The Biggest Poker Hand Wins of All Time
26 October 2020
Poker, at least in the form we know today, has been around since the 19th century. It slowly began to flourish in the 20th century, moving from a rather recreational pastime to a planetary popular activity for both participants and spectators. The game was turned into serious business as popular TV stations make highly entertaining shows featuring some of the most famous players in the world.
The majority of these famous players will be mentioned in this article. As the title says, we are about to discuss some of the biggest pots ever seen in the history of the game. We can say poker is one of the most popular card games in the world.
You can imagine how many hands have been played since it was originally introduced in the United States in the 19th century. However, the hands you are about to see are the most extraordinary hands of them all. You may have heard about some, but if you are into poker, there is no way you will find this article boring.
From dreadful bad beats to phenomenal calls on bluffs, here is the list of the ten largest poker hand wins in the history of the game. We will include both live and online pots and discuss how they were played out.
10 – Ivey Catches an Unlikely Full House to Scoop almost a Half-million Pot
We will begin the adventure with an online No-Limit Hold’em hand heads-up game between Phil Ivey and Viktor Blom. It was a true clash of the titans in November 2009. Back then in the late 2000s, these two guys got involved in some colossal duels that have left a deep mark in the online poker history. So, it was a heads-up game with $500/$1,000 blinds. These were the most common blinds between highrollers back at the time.
Blom entered the hand with A♥6♥, while Ivey held 5♦7♣. Ivey raised to $3,000 on the button and got a call from Blom, popular as Isildur1. The flop came in with 10♦5♣3♥. As Blom missed the flop, he checked and then decided to call a $5,000 bet from Phil.
Ivey made it a $14,000 bet on the turn, but Blom wouldn’t miss a call after the second heart appeared (7♥). You can guess what the river card was. Yes, you are right, it was indeed 5♥, making an unlikely full house for Ivey and a nuts flush for Viktor. The action was inevitable. Ivey bet $32,000, Blom went all-in (had $342,485), and Phil snap-called to get his hands onto a massive $460,997 pot.
Nothing suggested such an action after the flop, but turn and river brought two fatal cards for one of the most popular online players in history.
9 – Dwan Gets His Hidden Straight to Claim a half-million Pot Online against a French-Canadian Businessman
Next up is Tom Dwan, a man whom we will see a lot on this list. He was very active in both online and live highroller games of all kinds. Tom is known as one of the best cash game players ever.
He claimed an enormous half-million pot in a five-seated $500/$1,000 online NL Hold’em game. The action starts with a raise to $3,500 from a French-Canadian businessman Guy Laliberte. “Patatino” (His nickname) opened it up with A♣9♣, a standard move.
He got a re-raise to $11,500 from Tom Dwan. Now, Tom’s plays are impossible to read. He could have made this move with literally any two cards in his hands. He indeed had “any” two cards in the shape of 5♠6♦. Everyone folded except from the initial raiser who caught his ace on the flop (4♠A♠3♣).
Dwan made a continuation bet of $15,600 to get a strong re-raise to $70,300. Tom would have never folded such a hidden open-ended straight draw as the value was just too good. The turn paired 4, this time in hearts, and Dwan went all in for over $233,000.
Laliberte had $115,000 remaining and had nowhere to go but to call the top pair having already invested a lot in the pot. Of course, the river was fatal for the French-Canadian entrepreneur as 7♦ completed Dwan’s straight.
You can only imagine how Patatino felt after losing a $512,455 pot in that fashion.
8 – Quads over Full House in a High Stakes Poker Classic
We’ve come to the maiden live cash game hand on the list. “High Stakes Poker” was a super-popular television show watched by masses from all over the globe.
It featured the most famous poker highrollers in the world, including Gus Hansen and Daniel Negreanu, our next two protagonists. Several years ago, the two men got into a very exciting hand having been dealt pairs each.
Gus made the first move, opening up with a $2,100 raise with 5♦5♣. Daniel decided to three-bet to $5,000 with 6♠6♥. Antonio Esfandiari could have added even more flavor to the pot had he not folded A♦Q♣ before such action to him.
Obviously, both remaining players saw their sets on the flop which came in the shape of 9♣6♦5♥. Hansen wanted to trap his rival by checking, Daniel bet $8,000 and the Dane then re-raised to $26,000 thinking he had the best hand. Negreanu just called.
The turn brought in the most shocking card as Gus Hansen hit quads with another 5♠. The Dane bet $24,000 to receive a call from Daniel who clearly slow-played his full house. Little did he know that he had just one out on the river (the remaining six in the deck).
The river came in with 8♠. Gus Hansen checked the nuts, hoping to get a big bet which eventually came as Negreanu blew in $65,000. It was a no-brainer for Hansen who went all-in with $167,000. Although Daniel probably knew he was outplayed by the nuts at that point, he simply had to make the call to see a cooler.
7 – Aces Versus Kings for $697,100
“Poker After Dark” was another significant TV show that had a major influence on the popularization of poker worldwide. The seventh place on the list is reserved for a familiar face, Tom Dwan.
He was once again on the winning side, with the difference that this was a live game, not online. It was $200/$400 No-Limit Hold’em. The period was August 2017. Three amazing players were in action, having all been dealt big pairs pre-flop.
Negreanu began the action with a $3,500 raise on the button. We talked about the impossibility of reading Tom Dwan’s hands earlier. Well, the legendary American held A♠A♣ this time. He four-betted to $14,000 only to be shocked and see a five-bet from out-of-position Esfandiari who went all the way to $41,000 with K♥K♣.
Daniel just called, but Tom went all-in for $328,000. Although in theory, you can fold kings in such a situation, Antonio knew it was Tom Dwan. Against him, you can never fold kings pre-flop. Unfortunately for the Spaniard, he made the call. Daniel, expectedly, folded his queens.
Although they ran the hand two times, there was no help for Antonio on either occasion as Tom Dwan clinched a huge $697,100 pot.
6 – Luck Switches Back and Forth in a Shocking 743,500 Pot
We stick to the same live high-stakes cash game action. This one happened a few years ago. Patrik Antonius and Jamie Gold were the main figures. Patrik made the maiden move with a $4,000 raise with A♠J♦. He was re-raised to $14,000 by Gold who held kings in his hand. Antonius called. The flop 3♠Q♦10♥ brought a gut-shot straight draw for Patrik who needed a king not knowing that his opponents had two kings in his hand. There was just one left in the deck.
Gold bet an over-pair $15,000, but Patrik called in hope of snatching that one remaining king. You don’t have to guess, it came on the very turn, giving super-strong trips to Jamie and a Broadway straight to Patrik. Antonius lifted the pot to a whopping $106,000 with a strong $45,000 bet.
Gold did not trust his rival and pushed his trips all-in to $341,500. It was a quick call for Patrik who then accepted to run the river three times for almost $250,000 apiece. Unbelievably, it was Gold who won it two times for almost half-million bucks hitting a queen and then a three. The third run brought Patrik only consolation of $250,000.
5 – Antonius v Blom in Online Pot-Limit Omaha – Part One
We resume to the online game, this time a Pot Limit Omaha heads-up. We have two familiar faces in this one. Patrik Antonius was not only a live cash game player. He, much like a vast majority of his fellow highroller poker admirers fancied online Pot-Limit Omaha.
Patrik played a lot of high-stakes Omaha online in 2009, most frequently against Viktor Blom. Remember, the Swedish player was already mentioned in the 10th place on our list. Do not worry, we will see him again in even greater pots.
In this particular $500/$1,000 game, Blom opened up to $3,000 with A♠K♠Q♦T♥. Antonius held A♥Q♣9♠6♥ and made a call. Both players hit something on an exciting 5♥7♥Q♠ flop. Antonius decided to check/raise to $21,000 after Blom initially bet $5,000. Viktor called and the A♦ appeared on the turn. Both men hit the same two pairs. Antonius was the first to act and bet $48,000 before getting a $192,000 re-raise.
All-in, all-in is what happened next, even before the 8♦ came on the river to give Patrik a hidden straight and a victory in a hefty $878,959 pot.
4 – Dwan Wins the Biggest Pot in the History of a Televised Poker Game
The second-largest live cash game pot occurred in London back in 2010. Legendary figures Tom Dwan and Phil Ivey were among numerous famous highrollers who featured London’s Million Dollar Cash Game. The particular hand we are going to speak about occurred after 20 hours of play. Only three men left at the time. Patrik Antonius was remaining.
Tom just called 7♥6♥ from the button. Ivey had A♣2♦ on the small blind and raised it to $23,000($1,000/$2,000 + a $500 ante were the blinds). Dwan called. The flop showed J♣3♦4♣. While Tom was in better shape with an open-ended straight draw, Ivey hoped to make a straight of his own.
Phil acted first betting $35,000. Dwan called. Of course, the turn card brought the worst possible scenario for Phil who managed to hit his straight with a 5♥. Little did he know that his rival made a superior straight with just that card. Ivey bet, Dwan raised, and all-ins were inevitable.
The two guys eventually participated in the biggest pot in the history of a televised poker game as Dwan collected $1.1 million on the occasion.
3 – Isildur1 Scoops $1.1 million against Ivey
Viktor Blom, one of the most frequent figures of this list, has been featured in two highest-ever online poker pots. To make things even more spectacular, only a few days have passed between those two pots. On the bright side, the Swedish legend did not lose both. He won this one against Phil Ivey, returning a solid portion of the losses against Antonius.
Online Pot-Limit Omaha was the game. Blinds were set at standard $500/$1,000, heads-up action. Ivey, whose hand we will never know, raised to $3,000. Blom three-bet to $9,000 only to get a four-bet to $27,000 by Phil. Viktor’s hand was K♦K♣5♥4♦.
We can only imagine how he felt after seeing the J♠K♠J♦ flop. Interestingly, both players only checked it. The turn brought 10♦. Ivey bet $41,000, Viktor raised to $177,000. After Phil’s check, the dealer showed 5♦ as the river card. Blom went all-in with $408,000. Ivey called and instantly mucked his hand after seeing Viktor’s full house monster. The total amount of money in the pot went to a staggering $1,127,955.
2 – Antonius v Blom in Online Pot-Limit Omaha – Part Two
As mentioned above, Isildur1 featured the biggest online pot in the history of the game. It happened just a couple of days before the above-described victory against Ivey. This time he met with an old friend, Patrik Antonius, in the very same game.
The two men fired heavily at each other pre-flop. The action stopped when Blom called Patrik’s five-bet to see the flop. Antonius had A♥K♥K♠3♠, while Blom was dealt 9♠8♥7♦6♦. With a 5♣4♠2♥ flop, both players went all-in even before the turn to contribute to a shocking $1,356,946 pot.
Viktor had an open-ended straight draw, but Antonius had already caught a straight of his own. The 5♥ on the turn and the 9♣ did not quite help the Swedish highroller as Antonius grabbed the largest online pot ever seen in the game.
1 – Tom Dwan Loses a $2.5 million Pot on a Pre-Flop All-In
The aforementioned highrollers frequently flew to eastern Asia to play mega high-stakes games against local tycoons. They had a massive edge in skill, while the Asians had money. An ideal match for Dwan, Ivey, & company.
While some games were played under the closed doors, the one which won the title of having the biggest pot in poker history was open to the public. It was the Triton Poker Super High Roller held in Jeju, South Korea. The buy-in was a hefty $1 million.
The game was played in Korean Won, but we will translate it to dollars for you. The blinds were $2,600/$5,200 plus a $5,200 ante. The hand was opened with a $10,400 straddle. Dominik Nitsche raised it to $26,300 with K♥Q♣. Tom Dwan re-raised to $105,000 with A♠Q♥ in his hands. Such a pre-flop action was music to the ears of Paul Phua who re-raised to $280,000 with aces.
Tom took four minutes to think about his move. Sadly, he made the wrong one and went all-in. Phua snap-called and won almost $2.5 million in a single hand as neither flop, not turn, nor river brought any luck to Dwan. To the present day, this is still the biggest-ever poker hand win.
The Top Ten Winner Payout Game
- Paul Phua $2.5 million, NL Hold’em Live
2. Patrik Antonius $1.3 million, PL Omaha Online
3. Viktor Blom $1.1 million, PL Omaha Online
4. Tom Dwan $1.1 million, NL Hold’em Live
5. Patrik Antonius $878,959, PL Omaha Online
6. Jamie Gold $743,500, NL Hold’em Live
7. Tom Dwan $697,100, NL Hold’em Live
8. Gus Hansen $575,700, NL Hold’em Live
9. Tom Dwan $512,455, NL Hold’em Online
10. Phil Ivey $460,997, NL Hold’em Online