Poker Coverage:

The Best Players Without A World Series of Poker Bracelet

A Look At The Top Tournament Stars Who've Yet To Capture A Title At The WSOP


The live poker world has been effectively shut down for a month due to the coronavirus outbreak, but as of now, the 2020 World Series of Poker is still currently expected to be held this summer. With this year’s series on the horizon, a number of top players are likely looking forward to another opportunity to remove their names from the list of the ‘best players without a bracelet’.

While winning some WSOP hardware is hardly the only measure of success for a tournament professional, it is still one of the most highly regarded achievements by the general public. With that being said, many of the very best players in the world have put together incredible resumes despite having not yet won an event at the series. In fact, there are three players who have accumulated more than $30 million in lifetime live tournament earnings without yet securing a bracelet: Dan Smith, Jason Koon and Steve O’Dwyer.

There are a total of ten bracelet-less players who have over $20 million in career cashes, and all of them are frequent participants in the highest-stakes events around the globe. Perhaps 2020 will be the year for a number of these fantastic players to get the monkey off their back. Before the action kicks off, here is a look at the top tournament poker players without a WSOP bracelet.

1. Dan Smith

Dan SmithDan Smith has earned $36,835,392 in live poker tournaments, with nine career seven-figure scores and 22 titles won along the way. The 31-year-old poker pro currently sits in fifth place on poker’s all-time money list, and is the only player among the top eight on that list without a win at the series.

Smith has more than $9.8 million in cashes in WSOP events. With six third-place finishes at the series, he is part of a five-way tie for the second-most third-place finishes in WSOP history. His largest payday for a third-place showing was for $4,000,000, which he earned for a podium finish in the 2018 Big One For One Frop $1,000,000 buy-in event.

Smith’s lone runner-up finish in a WSOP event came in the 2016 One Drop High Roller $111,111 buy-in event. Smith outlasted all but one opponent from a field of 183 entries, earning $3,078,974 after Fedor Holz emerged victorious from the final heads-up showdown.

2. Jason Koon

Jason KoonWith $30,970,030 in total career cashes, Jason Koon currently sits in ninth place on the all-time money list. The 34-year-old West Virginia native has eight seven-figure paydays on his resume, all of which have come in the last four years.

Like Smith, Koon has 22 career titles won in live events. His two largest victories have come in ultra-high-stakes short deck events. He took down the Triton Super High Roller Montenegro $1,000,000 HKD (~$127k USD) buy-in short deck event for $3.6 million in 2018, and won the same event at another Triton event in Jeju, South Korea the following spring for another $2.9 million.

Koon has accumulated 42 in-the-money finishes at the series, contributing $1.7 million to his lifetime total. He’s made eight WSOP final tables, with his highest finish being a runner-up showing in the $3,000 heads-up no-limit hold’em and pot-limit Omaha event, with Leif Force ultimately winning the final match to deny Koon his first bracelet.

3. Steve O’Dwyer

Steve O'DwyerSteve O’Dwyer is the final player on this list inside the top ten of the all-time money list. With $30,329,542 in career cashes, he currently occupies the tenth-place spot on that leaderboard. The 38-year-old originally was born in Colorado Springs, but now calls Ireland home.

O’Dwyer has primarily focused on live poker tournaments outside of the United States in recent years, finding particular success on the European Poker Tour. With over $12.4 million in cashes on that tour (including side events and high rollers), he is currently the EPT’s leading money earner.

All told, O’Dwyer has $711,592 in WSOP earnings from 19 career cashes. He has recorded just one cash at the WSOP in Las Vegas since 2013, but has two in-the-money finishes at the WSOP Europe in the second half of the past decade.

4. Mikita Badziakouski

Mikita BadziakouskiBelarus’ Mikita Badziakouski has cashed for $28,688,601 in live poker tournaments, with 13 career titles and seven scores of $1 million or more. His biggest win came in a $2,000,000 HKD (~$254k USD) buy-in no-limit hold’em event at the Triton Super High Roller Series Jeju. He defeated a field of 55 entries in that event to win $5,255,077 USD.

The 28-year-old poker pro has only made five cashes in WSOP events, but those handful of scores alone were enough to bring his earnings in WSOP events to $3,713,342. All five of his cashes have come in high roller events, with buy-ins of $25,000 or higher. His largest score in a bracelet event came when he finished third in the 2017 WSOP Europe €111,111 buy-in One Drop High Roller for $1,766,608 USD.

5. Cary Katz

Cary KatzCary Katz may technically not be a poker pro, but the 50-year-old businessman’s results place him among the most successful players in the game. Katz has cashed for $28.4 million in live poker tournaments, with 202 career cashes and 23 titles, including his win in the 2019 Super High Roller Bowl London_ for $2,541,000.

Katz has $5,180,596 in WSOP scores accumulated across 42 cashes in gold bracelet events. He has made it down to heads-up twice, finishing runner-up in both the 2013 $5,000 pot-limit hold’em event and a $1,500 no-limit hold’em event in 2017.

Katz has also made the final table of two separate Big One For One Drop million-dollar buy-in events, finishing 8th in 2014 and fifth in 2016.

Honorable Mentions: Five More Braceltless Players With >$20 Million In Earnings

Player Live Tournament Earnings WSOP Earnings Best WSOP Finish
Isaac Haxton $27,929,614 $2,923,424 2nd – 2009 $40,000 NLH for $1,168,566
Jake Schindler $25,290,752 $1,050,644 3rd – 2014 $3,000 NLH for $212,373
Christoph Vogelsang $24,977,615 $8,668,735 3rd – 2014 $1,000,000 Big One For One Drop for $4,480,001
Sam Trickett $21,753,517 $11,772,085 2nd – 2012 $1,000,000 Big One For One Drop for $10,112,001
Rainer Kempe $21,447,162 $1,142,997 4th – 2019 $600 NLH/ PLO for $65,482