Where Are the Top Poker Players From?

Ever wonder where the top poker players in cash and tournament history come from? What about how they got into the game of poker? Casino Channel Network details some of the most famous and winning poker players in history with their histories.

Justin Bonomo

Born in Oakton, Virginia, in 1985, Justin Bonomo began playing poker online when he turned 18. He sold an online gaming character and bought into his first online site to play for $500. Justin succeeded almost immediately and was the youngest player to ever be televised in a major event in France.

In the USA, you can’t gamble in a casino in most jurisdictions before 21. However at 19, Justin was already making a name for himself while in France, where the legal age to play is 18. Now the #2 earner in live poker tournaments all-time with over $40 million in cash, Justin got into card games with Magic the Gathering.

Daniel Negreanu

Born in 1974 in Toronto, Canada, to immigrant parents who came from Romania, Daniel showed little to no interest in school. As a teenager, Daniel played poker, pool, and was a regular sports bettor. He played in charity poker games across Canada before finally going to Vegas in his early 20’s.

Like so many others before and after him, he went broke and moved back to Canada. He kept grinding, however, and won his first World Series of Poker bracelet in 1998, beating Todd Brunson heads-up for $170,000. His first TV appearance came in the 1999 US Poker Championship, where Daniel won and came out looking like a star.

Phil Hellmuth Jr.

Born in 1964 in Madison, Wisconsin, the “Poker Brat” went on to attend the university there. This is where Phil was introduced to Texas Hold’em. He played his first poker tournament, a $5 buy-in, and was hooked. Hellmuth then played against anyone in town and tried to build his bankroll. 

After several attempts to move to Vegas only to lose his roll, Phil moved back to Wisconsin several times to build back up enough money to try again in Vegas. Phil finally did drop out of college and made his move to Vegas in 1988, when he had his first cash in the World Series of Poker. He won the Main Event in 1989, and there was no turning back.   

Tom “Durrrrrrr” Dwan 

Born in 1986 in Edison, New Jersey, Tom Dwan was a regular kid growing up who played soccer and tennis. He beefed up his Hold’em experience in high school playing free money sit n go online. At 17, Tom got $50 for his birthday from his parents and began playing online for real money.

His screen name, “Durrrrrrr,” was to agitate his opponents when they were beaten. Tom then began playing Limit Hold’em Online and multi-tabled games, usually sitting in on four at once. He then attended one year at Boston University, playing poker against his roommates. Tom only stayed one year and was making so much money at 5/10 No Limit that he realized poker was a career path. Unable to play live until he turned 21, Tom Dwan was already playing in the biggest online games, which he still does to this day.

Phil Ivey

Phil was born in 1977 in Riverside, California but moved and grew up in New Jersey. Phil Ivey’s grandfather taught him poker at eight, with the game of five-card stud. At 16, he began a weekly game at his friends’ house. From there, he then went and played in Atlantic City, at age 18, illegally with the name Jerome on his fake ID.

Phil was noted for his talent at an early age, and fellow pros Barry Greenstein and Daniel Negreanu helped teach Ivey winning strategies. He won his first bracelet in Pot Limit Omaha and beat Amarillo Slim heads-up. Phil is now seen as one of, if not the best, cash game and tournament player.

We hope you enjoyed learning more about some top poker players.