Top 10 Highest-Earning Canadian Poker Players of All Time

Top 10 Highest-Earning Canadian Poker Players of All Time

People have been asking for years, is poker a game of skill or luck? As anyone who has ever played the game for any length of time certainly knows, the answer is a little of both, but it is certainly a skill game. There is a reason Phil Hellmuth has 16 World Series of Poker bracelets while most players have none. Why do you think Phil Ivey lives in a mansion as many cash game pros struggle to make rent? Doyle Brunson is 88-years-old, and he’s still winning. Would you explain away his longevity as being lucky? Of course not.

Skill Vs. Luck

The truth is, like any game, it takes dedication and devotion to be good at poker, not to mention hours upon hours of practice and study. It would be foolish to suggest Hellmuth, Ivey and Brunson have just been lucky. They’d have to be three of the luckiest people alive to achieve what they’ve achieved. No, they’re just that good. Hellmuth alluded to it himself when he uttered one of the most famous lines in poker history in 2005 after being eliminated from a tournament at the WSOP.

“If luck weren’t involved, I’d win every one,” he said, almost in tears, and distraught.

Just ask the ‘Poker Brat’, poker is a game of skill.

Phil Hellmuth holding cards and a bracelet

 

Canadian Poker Players

There’s no shortage of skilled poker players here in Canada. In fact, we are home to some of the greatest in the world. Everybody knows Daniel Negreanu, but how about Timothy Adams, Daniel Dvoress or Mike Leah? Combined, that trio has won more than $50 million at the card table. Sure, they’ve had some luck along the way, everybody needs that, but they’ve also proven time and again they’ve got the chops. Plain and simple, they’re just more skilled than your average player.

As we head into a new year, let’s celebrate the poker skill in this country, there’s plenty of it. Team Maple has compiled a list of the ’Top 10’ all-time Canadian poker players money winners:

1. Daniel Negreanu

Daniel Negreanu Playing Poker

Simply put, he’s done it all. Daniel Negreanu is one of the greatest players to ever grace the felt, and perhaps the most famous poker personality on the planet.  The winner of six WSOP bracelets and two WSOP ‘Player of the Year’ awards, the Toronto native was inducted into the Poker Hall of Fame in 2014, and has become an icon of the game.

Negreanu, who resides in Las Vegas and has dual citizenship, first started playing poker in Ontario charity tournaments in his late teens, and has been working tirelessly to hone his skills ever since. The effort, coupled with some natural talent and gut instinct, has been a recipe for success, and one that’s led to a litany of titles over the course of his career.

According to the Hendon Mob, the world’s largest live poker database, Negreanu has won a mind-boggling $45,175,426 playing poker, placing him third on the all-time money list. His largest cash came at the 2014 World Series of Poker when he placed second to Daniel Coleman in the $1 million Big One for One Drop for more than $8.2 million ($8,288,001).

“The World Series of Poker vlogs are back,” Negreanu said on Youtube, to his 507,000 subscribers, in advance of the 51st annual WSOP a few months ago.

Successfully parlaying his poker accolades into a huge brand, Negreanu has a built a massive fanbase on Youtube, more than half-a-million strong, and he’s got just as many followers on Twitter @RealKidPoker. He’s written books, appeared in Hollywood movies, and is the face for a number of products, including the online poker site GG Poker.

At just 47, Negreanu has already cemented his poker legacy, amazing considering he can’t even play the seniors event yet.

2. Timothy Adams

Timmothy Adams Winning

Not too many players can brag about having two $3 million scores, but Burlington, Ontario’s Timothy Adams can.

“Timothy Adams wins back-to-back Super High Roller Bowl titles and $3.600,000,” screamed the bold print at PokerGo, after the 35-year-old crushed the competition in Sochi, Russia.

A year earlier, Adams took down the $2 million buy-in Super High Roller Bowl at the Triton Poker Series in Hong Kong for $3,608,865.

Three other notable results:

  • 2019, $1,321,950 Charity Invitational, Triton Poker Series (8th, $1,708,000)
  • 2020, AU$250,000 Super High Roller Bowl Australia (1st, $1,490,400)
  • 2021, $250,000 Super High Roller Bowl Europe (4th, $1,127,500)

Along with a World Series of Poker bracelet, Adams has won $25,458,301 lifetime, good for 20th position on the all-time money list.

3. Sam Greenwood

Sam Greenwood Winning

A stock trader is his former life, Toronto’s Sam Greenwood likes to push edges. And, since transitioning to poker in 2015, he’s been doing exactly that, pushing edges. To say it was a good career move is an understatement.  In just six years, the 33-year-old has already recorded nine million-dollar scores. NINE!

“Sam Greenwood keeps momentum going,” reads an article from Poker News, after Greenwood remarkably won his third high roller event in the span of a month on the European Poker Tour in 2018.

Think about that for a second, three titles in one month. Impressive. Worth a pretty penny, too. For his victory at EPT Monte Carlo alone, Greenwood received $1,839,200, and that’s a mere pittance compared to his overall total. He’s made $22,534,201 playing cards.

In terms of the stock market, that makes him a bull.

4. Jonathan Duhamel

Johnathan Duhamel in front of bricks of cash

Who can forget the gut-wrenching scenes of Matthew Affleck exiting the 2010 World Series of Poker main event in tears, heartbroken, after his pocket aces were cracked by the rivered straight of Boucherville, Quebec’s Jonathan Duhamel. It was hard to watch, unless of course you were a Duhamel fan.

“The river card, it’s an eight,” screamed commentator Lon Mceachern incredulously, when the eight of diamonds came off the deck on fifth street. “A crushing blow for Affleck,” he continued with his play-by-play aghast.

It truly was great theatre. Affleck stormed off in disgust in a departure that included an epic water bottle toss, but not before stopping to bury his head in his hands up against a wall in one of the hallways at the Rio. It was a picture of loneliness, the pure agony of defeat, and it was hard not to feel for him. His chance was forever gone.

At the other end of the table, Duhamel grinned sheepishly as he raked in the massive 41 million chip pot, despite being a four-to-one underdog to win the hand. The rest is history. He carried on to win the tournament, the close to $9 million ($8,944,310) up top, and became Canada’s first ever world champion. Not bad for a 23-year-old, eh?

Now 34, Duhamel has three WSOP bracelets to his name, and is one of poker’s household names. With $18,012,109 in lifetime earnings, he sits 39th on the all-time money list.

5. Daniel Dvoress

Daniel Dvoress playing poker

You may not have heard of this guy, and he likes it that way. The problem for this self-described “Vegas-averse” 33-year-old, who was born in the Soviet Union and emigrated to Canada at the age of eight, is that he continues to make headlines.

“Daniel Dvoress wins online high roller poker tournament for $394,853,” reported Card Player magazine this past May, when the Mississauga native outlasted a monster field of 6,299 players to win the GG Super Millions.

Just call it his latest in a string of six-figure paydays. Close to $400,000 is nothing to sneeze at, but it’s nowhere near his largest score. In 2019, Dvoress had a Caribbean party in the Bahamas after taking down the $250,000 Super High Roller Bowl for an incredible $4,080,000. It came just a few months after another major haul, when he placed fourth in the short deck championship at the Triton Poker Series for $1,179,100. That’s called letting the good times roll.

In 2020, Dvoress added a World Series of Poker bracelet to his resume, not to mention a third million-dollar score, when he took down one of the most prestigious events on the WSOP online calendar, the $1,500 Millionaire Maker. The tournament featured more than six-thousand entrants, and he pocketed $1,489,289 for his efforts.

He may want poker anonymity, but when you add everything up, Dvoress has won 15,904,694 overall, sits 46th on the all-time money list, and will top the $16 million mark in a matter of days. With earnings like that, he’s sure to attract a lot of attention.

6. Mike McDonald

Mike Macdonald Playing Poker

One word, crusher. In poker, business, and life, Waterloo, Ontario’s Mike ’Timex’ McDonald is a force to be reckoned with. While his latest business venture, PokerShares, the innovative poker and sports betting website that allowed fans to back their favourite players, make wagers, and get a piece of the action, has announced it’s shutting down for good, McDonald is still heavily involved in crypto currency and NFT trading. And, if all else fails, there’s always a little Texas Hold’em to fall back on.

In the Bank of Timex, at least in the poker account anyway, you’ll find a lifetime balance of $13,314,188. Staggering, when you consider the 32-year-old effectively retired from competitive poker more than five years ago, when he launched the site.

“18-year-old Mike McDonald becomes the youngest ever EPT winner,” blasted the headline at pokerstars.com, way back on February 2, 2008, the day he made history on the European Poker Tour.

In defeating Andreas Gulunay heads-up to win the €7,700 main event in Dortmund, McDonald announced himself to the poker world in the most spectacular way. He was young and wide-eyed, was sporting a poker face that struck fear into his opponents, and he walked away €933,600 (1,370,161) richer. Not exactly chump change for a teenager. He wasn’t done there, either. Are you ready for this? His top five results are all million-dollar scores:

  • 2014, Aussie Millions, AUD$250,000 No-Limit Hold’em (3rd, $1,697,460)
  • 2008, EPT German Open, $11,840 Main Event (1st, $1,370,161)
  • 2014, Aussie Millions, AUD$100,000 No-Limit Hold’em (2nd, $1,343,250)
  • 2015, Aussie Millions, AUD$250,000 No-Limit Hold’em (2nd, $1,237,373)
  • 2014, EPT PCA Main Event, (2nd, $1,064,865)

It should be noted, those three big paydays from 2014 all came within the span of two-months, January and February. Talk about a rush. Good cards, good play, good fortune, right?

7. Sorel Mizzi

Sorel Mizzi Playing Poker

Toronto’s Sorel Mizzi is surely kicking off the New Year with loads of confidence. The 35-year-old closed out 2021 with a couple of huge results at the 51st annual World Series of Poker in Las Vegas. First, he placed third in the $1,111 Little One for One Drop for $186,824. Then, just 10 days later, he finished sixth in a $100,000 High Roller event for another $331,806. More than $600,000 in the month of November alone? A good gig if you can get it.

Mizzi’s largest payday came in 2013 at the GuangDong Asia Millions, where he placed third in the main event for $2,073,868. Overall, he’s banked more $13 million ($13,219,167) playing cards, and you can bet that suits him just fine.

8. Michael Watson

Mike Watson Poker Player

This guy’s so good they call him sir. Mike Watson, also known as ‘SirWatts’ thanks to his online screen name, is one of the most feared players on the planet. When it comes to tournament poker, whether online or in the casino, he is world elite.

“Ace on the river for Michael Watson,” read the second to last update of the 2008 Bellagio Cup in Las Vegas, the decisive hand as it turned out.

After navigating a star-studded final table featuring the likes John Phan, Ralph Perry, and Gabe Thaler, Watson found himself heads-up against David Benyamine, a legend in his own right. He got it all-in holding ace, king versus the Frenchman’s pocket queens. Watson hit his ace, doubled up, crippled Benyamine in the process, and it was all over a few minutes later. He took home the title, the bracelet and nearly $1.7 million ($1,673,770) for his efforts. He was in his mid-twenties, and just had announced himself to the world.

Now 38, Watson is still capturing titles, posting big numbers, and leaving an indelible mark on his chosen profession. He’s won $12,194,305 lifetime. For that we say, “Well done sir.”

9. Peter Jetten

Peter Jetten at a poker table

Scuba diving with bull sharks is scary stuff, especially without a cage, but what else would you expect from one of Canada’s great whites of the felt. Peter Jetten is an adventurous sort, and has made dives all over the world, from Mexico to Australia. He likes the outdoors, too.

“I went back to Toronto, enjoyed the weather for a little bit,” he said, in a 2011 Poker News interview. when asked about his activities following the World Series of Poker. “I went up to Algonquin Park, which is a camping area, and I did some Canadian stuff, got some canoeing in.”

You might say his opponents are up a creek without a paddle when they come face-to-face with him in a tournament. The guy can play. Success came early, too. In high school, with play money, he won $75 in freerolls, then quickly ran it up to $100,000 playing cash games, tournaments and sit-n-gos.

Fast forward a decade, and Jetten has continued running it up to the tune of $9,348,640 in lifetime earnings. According to Card Player magazine, his five largest paydays, including three million-dollar scores, all come from the Triton Poker Series in back-to-back years, 2018 and 2019.

10. Mike Leah

Mike Leah winning poker

He might sit in the number ten position, but when Mike Leah sits down at a poker table, he is number one most of the time. An avid sports fan, especially of the professional teams in Toronto, the Maple Leafs, Blue Jays and Raptors, Leah was an ultra-competitive wrestler in his younger days. That will and desire to win has carried over to the card table.

“I want to smash the all-time WSOP cash record,” he once told @HighRollerRadio, as he was gearing up for another long summer at the World Series of Poker, where he plays all the games, as many events as possible, and is the proud owner of a bracelet. It was a bold statement, and a true indication of how he approaches the game. All out.

According to the Hendon Mob, Leah has won just shy of $8 million dollars ($7,975,520) in live events, although Card Player magazine lists his total winnings at $8,259,096. His largest score came back in 2014, at the Seminole Hard Rock Poker Open, when he finished second to Daniel Coleman in the $5,300 main event for a cool $1,047,638.

If you run across him at your table, beware.

Honourable Mentions

As stated earlier, there’s no shortage of skilled players in Canada. They are littered from coast-to-coast, and many are working tirelessly to crack the top ten:

  1. Ari Engle, Toronto, Ontario ($7,546,388)
  2. Shawn Buchanan, Vancouver, BC ($6,934,037)
  3. Gavin Smith, Guelph, Ontario ($6,321,096)
  4. Pascal LeFrancois, Rosemere, Quebec ($5,346,275)
  5. Kristen Bicknell, St. Catharines, Ontario (5,344,935)
  6. Andrew Chen, Mississauga, Ontario ($5,112,251)
  7. Alexander Livingston, Halifax, Nova Scotia ($4,861,292)
  8. Taun Lam, Mississauga, Ontario ($4,851,424)
  9. Scott Montgomery, Perth, Ontario ($4,835,321)
  10. Lucas Greenwood, Toronto, Ontario ($4,735,571)

By the way, Justin Bonomo is the all-time money leader. According to the Hendon Mob, the 36-year-old from Fairfax, Virginia has now earned $57,194,647, and recently surpassed Bryn Kenny for the number one spot. Don’t feel bad for Kenney, though. The 35-year-old Long Beach, New York native has made $57,108,861. Incidentally, Bonomo scored his best live cash by winning the WSOP’s Big One for One Drop in 2018 for $10 million, while Kenney’s largest cash came in 2019 at the Triton Million when he finished second for more than $20 million.

Again, it’s a nice gig if you can get it.

Back To Top Back To Top
Close

Hello! Which language do you prefer?