No matter the sport or the activity, everyone wants to remember the winners and in the World Poker Tour, there have been some big winners. The WPT Championships have seen some players walk away with a big winner’s cheque and the kudos of beating the rest of the field.
There are many different poker players who have tasted success in the WPT but some players manage to stand out from the crowd. Whether it is through continual success, an impressive performance or just the way they carry themselves and mark themselves out as champions, some players will always rise above the rest.
The following 5 poker players are all rightly considered to be huge stars of the World Poker Tour and all deserve praise and adulation.
Carlos Mortensen, El Matador, was born in Ecuador in 1972 but now hails from Madrid in Spain. Mortensen may have been the first Hispanic star of poker but he can be rightly considered to be amongst the biggest poker players of modern times. Few can match his winnings or indeed his table finishes at the major events. When it comes to consistency, Mortensen is able to provide a greater degree of doing what it takes to win than most of his peers.
In the WPT events, Mortensen shot to fame in October 2004 when he picked up $1,000,000 in the Doyle Brunson North American Poker Championship Event which was held in the Bellagio in Las Vegas.
It was the same venue at the end of Season 5 where Mortensen won the WPT Championship on the 27th of April 2007. With a winning hand of the King and Jack of hearts, Mortensen defeated Kirk Morrison and helped himself to winnings of $3,970,415. In his career so far, Mortensen has already won over $10,000,000.
This figure was added to in Season 8 of the WPT tour when Mortensen picked up his third WPT title with a win in the Hollywood Poker Open, held in the Hollywood Casino in Indiana. By his standards, the prize of $391,212 was a small amount but taking his third WPT title placed him in rather exalted company and ensured that Mortensen is a name that resonates alongside the greatest poker players of the WPT so far.
Born in July 1974, Negreanu hails from Canada and can boast of 2 WPT Championship titles alongside the 4 WSOP bracelets he has picked up in his career. Negreanu has been so successful that as of March 2011, he was ranked in the list of all-time career earnings. When you think of the amount of money that has been won over the years and the exalted players that have been involved in the game, Daniel Negreanu manages to eclipse them all, which is no mean feat.
2004 was a major year for Negreanu with a 3rd place finish in the Poker Stars Caribbean Poker Adventure in January, a 2nd place finish in the Party Poker Million tournament in March and 2 first place finishes in September and October. Negreanu’s first win came at the Borgata Poker Open in Atlantic City where he picked up over £1m and the second came at the Five Diamond World Poker Classic where over $1,770,000 was the prize.
Negreanu has cultivated a fine media career around his poker playing skills and as well as many columns and books, has found the time to make cameo appearances in films such as ‘X-Men Origins: Wolverine’ and in a music video alongside Katy Perry. The money and kudos that goes with winning big tournaments is obviously of great value but the additional benefits that have come the way of Negreanu since his big wins will appeal to most people.
Born in February 1978 in Paris, Tuan Le is now a resident of Los Angeles and is one of the most recognised World Poker Tour players. 2004 was the year that Le shot to prominence in poker. Much of this recognition came from the fact that he was triumphant in the World Poker Finals event held in Connecticut. The final table was held on the 17th of November and Tuan Le overcame Temperance Hutter with a hand of 6-7. This meant that Tuan Le picked up the prize of $1,549,588 but better was to follow in April of 2005 when Tuan Le won the Series 3 WPT Championships final table.
A hand of K-J was enough to give Le victory over Paul Maxfield and picked up a cheque for $2,856,150 into the bargain. With over $4m in prize winnings from just one season, Tuan Le had announced his arrival on the major scene and at the time, he held the record for the all-time leading money winner.
By the end of 2010, Tuan Le had racked up a total of 7 money finishes in the WPT, making him one of the most prolific players on the circuit and an instantly recognisable name and face on the WPT.
Born in January 1981, Michael Mizrachi is a major name on the poker circuit, with a long history of winning and money finishes in a number of poker events, including the World Poker Tour. In total, Mizrachi has clocked up two WPT titles so far and a grand total of 11 money finishes. By September 2011, Mizrachi had earned over £11m in poker winnings and he shows no sign of stopping. The Mizrachi family has a legacy of poker playing but Michael has managed to develop a strong reputation and even before his first WPT win, he was noted for being a success at the poker table.
In January 2005, during season 3 of the WPT, Mizrachi finished in 5thplace at the World Poker Open in Tunica but then won the L.A. Poker Classic on February 22nd. These two successes endures that Mizrachi had picked up in excess of $2m in winnings in less than one month.
Mizrachi followed up this success in February 2006, season 4 of the WPT, by winning the Borgata Winter Poker Open in Atlantic City. This win presented Mizrachi with $1,173,373 and cemented his strong reputation for poker tournament play.
Born just outside Copenhagen in Denmark in February 1974, Gus Hansen has a fine sporting pedigree. Even before he started playing poker professionally, Hansen was a respected backgammon player and was also youth tennis champion. However, in 1997 Hansen turned his attention to poker, where he has been making a living ever since.
Two wins in Season 1 of the WPT, at the Five Diamond Poker Classic and the L.A. Poker Classic, followed by 3rd and 1st place finish in Season 2, for the Five Diamond Poker Classic and Caribbean Poker Adventure immediately marked Hansen out as one of the stars of the rising WPT.
Gus Hansen is one of the three men inducted to the WPT Walk of Fame, an accolade he shares with Doyle Brunson and James Garner. Hansen clearly stands apart from the other two men with regards to age but he has a fair claim to his position given that Hansen was the first player to triumph in three separate WPT tournaments. In addition to this, Hansen also won the WPT Bad Boys of Poker tournament.
Hansen was also runner up in season 6 of the WPT, finishing second to David Chiu. In total, Hansen has 9 money finishes in the WPT and there are very few arguments or criticisms of his place in the WPT Walk of Fame.