Daniel Negreanu. Phil Ivey. Gus Hansen. These names are all very familiar to aficionados of the Travel Channel's World Poker Tour, which each week brings a $10,000 Poker Tournament from anywhere in the world into the living rooms of poker fans everywhere. But who are the very best players on the World Poker Tour?
The player who has made the most money on the World Poker Tour to date is Tuan Le, a Vietnamese pro in his late 20s who won the third World Poker Tour Championship. Tuan Le's WPT winnings total nearly four and a half million dollars. Other players with impressive money records on the World Poker Tour include Daniel Negreanu, with over four million in winnings to his credit, Martin De knijff, with nearly three million, and Hasan Habib and Michael "The Grinder" Mizrachi, both with a little over two million in WPT cashes.
But pure financial numbers are not the best indicator of who is the strongest player. Some of these events have more expensive buy-ins than others, yielding a bigger prize pool, and hence, more money. Others have more players, and not necessarily better ones, contributing to a larger prize pool. There are probably better ways to determine who the best is.
The World Poker Tour has its own system for determining who has had the most success. They award WPT Player Points based on how many times a player has made the final table and how they finished. According to this system, Gus "The Great Dane" Hansen, a famously aggressive Danish player, is the top dog, with 4,200 points, as a result of a record three first place World Poker Tour event finishes. Popular Canadian star Daniel "Kid Poker" Negreanu had a brilliant 3rd season on the World Poker Tour to move into second position with 4,100 points. Following Daniel is Phil Ivey, a high stakes cash game player who many regard to be the best poker player on the circuit, with 3,000 points. Also with 3,000 points is the aggressive Erick Lindgren and respected pro John Juanda is not far behind with 2,700.
How did they come up with these numbers? Well, part of it is a function of who has made the most final tables; who has dodged the hundreds of players vying to be World Poker Tour Champions to make it to the end the most times. The honor of the most final tables reached on the World Poker Tour goes to Phil Ivey, with six. Phil, with over a million dollars in WPT winnings, came in 4th at the first Foxwoods World Poker Finals, 2nd at the Gold Strike World Poker Open, and 3rd in the Season One World Poker Tour Championship. In Season Three, he made the finals of the Championship again, finishing 6th. He also finished 6th in the Borgata Poker Open and 3rd in the Reno World Poker Challenge that year. Four players have five final tables to their credit: Gus Hansen, John Juanda, Daniel Negreanu, and 1998 World Champion Scotty Nguyen. Hansen's feat is the most impressive, with 1st place finishes in the Bellagio 5 Diamond World Poker Classic, the L.A. Poker Classic, and the Pokerstars Caribbean Poker Adventure.
Which player is the best? Purely based on performance, you have to give it to Gus Hansen. If you feel that making a final table is harder than winning one, you might give it to Phil Ivey. Some others feel that three seasons is not enough to make an informed judgment and believe Daniel Negreanu is still making his move. One thing's for sure: If you find yourself sitting down at the table next to any of these guys, look out!