What are the Single Biggest Poker Winnings Ever?
Back from the brink with another eye-beer for you to down, then shake your head and shout ‘God, these are good.’
This week, we’re talking winning. Charlie Sheen style. Tiger blood. The warrior’s prize. Victory is glory is victory is glory.
Online searches yield numerous results for the single biggest poker win ever. If you want just the high-level data with graphs, bells and stats, google is your friend, but you’re in Miketown now going down and dirty into the biggest tournament wins in poker history.
You can play for rent. You can play for love. You can play to wile away the shadowed hours and the horned things which form and strengthen in gloom. Mostly though, you play to win. Whatever your initial intentions, money is the main goal. If not riches, why not play snap instead?
Edgar Allen Poe wrote of an old knight, Gaily Bedight, greying on his quest to find El Dorado, the legendary Aztec city of gold rising like steel fire from the jungle mists. In microcosm, the knight’s plight is the same as the poker player’s. All the way he skips with a whistle, until one day, feeling old and tired, he slumps forward on his horse, realizing his energy is lost, and no matter how his heart did thumb its urgency against the walls of his chest, like a wardrum played in the cave mouth, if El Dorado was to appear across the next rise, he could not summon the vigour to sprint.
What can all this mean, Mike? Do I really have to know Edgar Allen Poe to understand poker? No, not really, but it can’t help. The point I’m making is that everyone wants to be the winner in the end, whether you’re appearing humble for the sake of others or genuinely low on ambition, the gold is still somewhere in your mind, a glinting nugget whose shimmer keeps your sails full, even when the lungs of the earth empty.
You can spend your whole life in pursuit of a goal and never reach it, and like old Gaily Bedight you wake up one morning and realize it’s another dog’s day.
We can’t all win the big ones all the time. That’s the facts. If everyone had El Dorado, it wouldn’t be special. In the world of golden houses and multivallate earthworks like dryad kingdoms, the king’s coin goes far as the wingless bird. But some people, knights perhaps or unlikely daring pageboys, summit that mountain, slay the dragon and pocket the gold, while we’re left reeling and wondering what we’d spend that share on.
There’s levels to prizes. Winning ten quid from each of your mates, while not particularly equitable, is unmatched in good feeling. Perhaps your ambition grows with victory. Why not 100, why not 1000? Why only people you know? Surely there’s other like-minded players out there willing to donate their bankroll to your will, right? Damn right there is, and when you finally find them and reach the top-tier of winning, the zeros start to arrive like premature party guests.
Let’s into the meat of this thing and find out what are the single biggest poker winnings ever.
5. World Series 2014 Main Event
This auspicious game began July 4, in the wake of Bastille day, the air presumably humming with latent possibility. While the 2006 Main Event boasts the accolade of largest tournament in poker history, the 2014 event saw nine players returning in November to determine a winner. Beating 6,683 entrants for the luxury, Martin Jacobson from the land of flaxen-haired giants took the $62.8 million prize, plus $10M and a bracelet a thrift shop would gladly pay a dime for. All in all almost $80 million total winnings, not a bad start from the year that brought us Megan Traynor, Atlas Shrugged Part III and McGregor manbuns.
4. World Series 2006 Main Event
Aforementioned, the largest tournament in poker history. $82,512,162 on the line — one hot tamale. Jamie Gold made good on his name and put his Lannister similarities to good use. I don’t know if hands of gold are always cold, but I’d rather that than a hand of cold longing for gold. Gold himself won $12 million at the 2006 ME, enjoying a substantial chip lead from Day 4 onward.
3. 2014 Big One for One Drop
Big One for One Drop is not a Lithuanian techno festival as the name implies, but a $1 million buy-in event held every second year as part of the World Series, unmatched by any other tournament in entries and payouts, drawing the sharkiest sharks from this pool of Great Whites. It will come as no surprise that the top 3 largest single wins in poker history all happened at the Big One, how apt.
2014 was a big year for the WSOP. $65.8 for Jacobson, $15.3 million for Dan Colman, winner of the Big One, triumphing over 42 game stalwarts like Negreanu to the finish.
Let the video do the talking. Action isn’t the word.
2. 2018 Big one for One Drop
World Series 2018 brought the excitement like never before as Fedor Holtz lost to Justin Bonomo heads up, snatching a whopping $10 million first prize (lower than our current GGS2 guarantee, wink wink) which sent Bonomo like a broken rocket fizzing uncontrollably toward the all-time money list, sitting like a dragon atop $43 million in live career earnings.
1. Big One for One Drop
48 entries, $46 million in the prize pool. Have mercy. Antonio Esfandiari took home, presumably by wagon train, an eye-watering $18.35 million dollars, the largest single poker tournament payout in the history of the game. That’s right, from cowboys betting their shoes for the next drink, to the mafioso days of early Vegas, right through to 2018, these pots are getting bigger.
Auspicious omens for those eager to attend 2019’s festivities. Who knows, maybe you’ll be on next year’s list?
Well, I hope you’re as jealous as I am. Back to my cupboard for another week.
Until the next time,
Mike at GGPoker