The star faces of world poker

The history of poker, or rather, the personalities of poker that gave this game a face, have not only helped shape it as it transformed itself over the years into the game we know of today, but they also contributed substantially to its strategy.


The “true face of poker” or “the Godfather of Poker” is undoubtedly Doyle Brunson. In Las Vegas, one will surely find this elderly man in his seventies playing and competing. His book on “Super/System or How I Made over $1’000’000 Playing Poker,” published in 1979, is surely one of the first to highlight a whole philosophy behind poker and an aggressive style of playing.

Another second, well-known face is Johnny Moss. He was the first ever World Poker Champion since the World Series of Poker (WSOP) was established in the 1970s. He was an ardent player throughout the years until his death in 1995.

The story of Chip Reese is awesome. With a 400 dollar bank account and a weekend in Las Vegas shortly before he was supposed to start Law School, he ended up making sixty thousand dollars through low stakes poker. This changed the course of his life completely as he delved into poker and eventually won the WSOP three times over as well as the Superbowl of Poker Main Events for another three times.

The world of poker, however, has also some new and young faces. Stu Ungar, known as “The Kid” is the youngest winner of the World Series of Poker (WSOP) Main Event ever. His sharp wit, creativity at the game as well as aggressive and determined style eventually won him over thirty million dollars. He was a triple winner not only of WSOP but also of the Superbowl of Poker Main Events. Unfortunately, the drug habit got the better of him and he passed away at a very young age.

Phil Ivey is the latest discovery in the poker world that has built himself a public profile not only through live poker, but also through online and televised games. Also known as “No Home Jerome” or “Tiger Woods of Poker”, he started playing in Atlantic City and managed to win his first WSOP bracelet in 2000. To date, he won seven more bracelets, earning him the title of youngest player. With his fame and skill at online poker, he is America’s hope to finally have the online gaming industry fully legalized there.

Let us now take a look at the female world of poker stars, where names are also aplenty but the winning figures more modest. Vanessa Selbst, who has dominated the scene for the past 12 years, won WSOP three times in 2008, 2012 and 2014, earning her a fortune of around 11 million dollars.

Kathy Liebert managed to get to the WSOP final table in 1997 and won her first one million dollars in the Party Poker Million of 2002. But the very first woman to win the NBC National Heads-Up Poker Championship was Annie Duke. She won the WSOP Tournament of Champions for two million dollars in 2004 and a number of other wins in 2010 WSOP.

Annette Obrestad, a Norwegian, was the winner for the World Series of Poker Europe in 2007 with a fabulous two million dollars as a teenager. She had a number of wins at the European Poker Tour as well as the 2010 Aussie Millions. She was among the top 100 players in WSOP 2010, 2012 and 2014 as well as for the 2017 WSOP.

This is by no means an exhaustive list of poker stars but there will be more to come, especially in the field of online and televised poker. Stay tuned!