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Poker Leaderboard: Biggest Year On The Tournament Circuit

by Card Player News Team |  Published: Feb 23, 2022

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Jamie Gold became the first player to ever cash for eight figures in a single year, thanks to winning the largest-ever (8,773 entries) World Series of Poker main event at the apex of the poker boom for an unprecedented $12 million payday. While Gold was the first player to break the eight-figure annual earnings mark, he was far from the last. The debut and subsequent growth of the super high roller tournament scene over the past decade has resulted in 20 additional instances of players cashing for ten million dollars or more in the course of a calendar year.

Incredibly, Gold’s pioneering performance is no longer even among the top 10 in terms of the most money won playing poker tournaments in a single year. Bryn Kenney set the gold standard in 2019, when he earned the single largest payout in poker history, negotiating a heads-up deal with Aaron Zang that saw him earn $20,606,421 in the largest buy-in tournament ever held: the £1,050,00 ($1,321,950 USD) buy-in Triton Million Charity Invitational. Kenney went on to cash for almost another $10 million that year, ending with a record-setting $30.5 million.

The majority of the players in the top 10 earned their way onto this list as a result of a strong showing in a seven-figure buy-in event. Second-ranked Justin Bonomo accrued $25.4 million in 2018, with all three of his largest career scores coming that year. He took down the million-dollar buy-in Big One For One Drop at the WSOP for $10 million, as well as the Super High Roller Bowl for $5 million and the Super High Roller Bowl China for another $4.8 million.

Daniel Colman joins Kenney and Bonomo as the only three players to have cashed for more than $20 million in a single year. Colman put together an unbelievable run in 2014, winning that year’s ‘Big One’ for $15.3 million and combining that with more than $7 million in additional scores to bring his total to $22.4 million.

Antonio Esfandiari won the first-ever seven-figure buy-in poker tournament in 2012, taking home $18.3 million as the champion. He and Sam Trickett, who finished runner-up in that event for more than $10 million, were the first players to break the eight-figure barrier after Gold did back in ‘06.

Mikita Badziakouski is the highest-ranking player on this list who has never cashed in a seven-figure buy-in event. He banked $14.7 million in 2018, with four separate seven-figure scores, including a $5.2 million win in the $2 million HKD ($254,839 USD) buy-in Triton Super High Roller Series Jeju main event.

Stephen Chidwick is the only player in history to accumulate eight figures in a year on two separate occasions, doing so in 2018 ($10.2 million) and 2019 ($13.6 million), the year he won the Card Player Player of the Year award.