For the past year and a half, online poker has been in a state of flux. Before Black Friday, it was a well-known fact that Full Tilt Poker was home to the high-stakes cash games, and that PokerStars was best known for tournaments. When FTP was shut down, PokerStars picked up the slack and began to cultivate highs-stakes ring games fueled by Viktor “Isildur1” Blom and Ilari “Ilari FIN” Sahamies, among others. FTP will relaunch in November, and one can’t help but wonder — will the sites fall back into their old molds?
It certainly appears as though that will be the case as FTP is developing a team of high-stakes professionals that includes Gus Hansen, Tom Dwan, and the aforementioned Blom. Only time will tell, but in the meantime, PokerStars is primed to crown the biggest online winner for the second year in a row. Last year, Sahamies won $2.18 million on PokerStars to become the biggest online winner of 2011, but Sahamies is in no position to repeat because he’s down $1,174,061 in the first 10 months of 2012.
Instead, the race to become the year’s biggest winner is a five-man race, and the two frontrunners are Ben “Sauce123” Sulsky and Ben “Ben86” Tollerene, with the former holding a $173,135 lead over the latter through Oct. 17, 2012. Interestingly, the two took very different routes to the top of the leaderboard.
Sulsky, who is currently the biggest winner with $2,740,000 in profit, started off with a bang in January by winning $671,150. He went on to book small wins through both February and March, and then banked six-figure wins each month from April to June. He had his only losing month in July, down $220,000, but backed that up with $1.1 million in profit from August to September. At one point he was up to $3.29 million, but that number dropped a bit due to a poor October.
On the other hand, Tollerene got off to a slow start. In fact, it wasn’t until April when he won $1.3 million that he made his presence known at the high-stakes tables. Unfortunately, he followed that up with a nearly $500,000 loss in May before taking June off to play the World Series of Poker. When he returned in July, Tollerene proceeded to lose the vast majority of his profits, but then hit his stride when it counted. In August he banked a $1,299,110 win, and followed that up with a $500,000 win in September. Tollerene has kept the ball rolling and is already up $710,000 in October.
Here's a month-by-month look for each player for 2012:
Ben "Sauce123" Sulsky Ben "Ben86" Tollerene
|Month||Winnings||Running Total||Month||Winnings||Running Total|
While Sulsky and Tollerene are jockeying for position atop the leaderboard, a number of players are nipping at their heels. For instance, Jens “Jeans89” Kyllönen is just a few hundred thousand dollars behind, with $2,347,275 in profit, and Phil “MrSweets28” Galfond is right behind him with $2,331,192. Rounding out the top five, and the only other player over $2 million in profit, is “EireAbu”, who sat atop the leaderboard earlier in the year with as much as $3 million in profit.
All of these players are well-positioned to make a run at the title of Biggest Online Winner of 2012, but you can’t rule out the possibility of a dark horse coming out of nowhere to win the title. After all, that’s exactly what Sahamies did in 2011 when he booked seven-figure wins in the last quarter of the year.
Here is a look at the Top 10 Winner and Losers on PokerStars thus far in 2012:
Top 10 2012 Winners on PokerStars Through October 17
|Ben “Sauce123” Sulsky||1,909||167,783||$2,735,740|
|Ben “Ben86” Tollerene||3,364||199,909||$2,562,605|
|Jens “Jeans89” Kyllönen||4,765||307,936||$2,347,275|
|Phil “MrSweets28” Galfond||1,657||165,884||$2,331,192|
|Niklas “ragen70” Heineckerragen||866||75,458||$1,444,508|
|Alex “Kanu7” Millar||1,118||151,332||$1,303,477|
The race for biggest winner is tight, but the one for 2012’s Biggest Online Loser is not. For the second year in a row, “Zypherin” is primed to capture the infamous title as he’s already down nearly three times (-$3,108,535) as much as he lost in 2011 (-$1,054,638). It’s also worth noting that four men who finish in the top 10 winners last year are now among 2012’s biggest losers — Sahamies, Blom, Gavin “gavz101” Cochrane and Benny “toweliestar” Spindler.
Top 10 2012 Losers on PokerStars Through October 17
|Viktor “Isildur1” Blom||4,151||283,853||$2,400,395|
|Ilari “Ilari FIN” Sahamies||1,359||97,715||$1,174,061|
|Gus “broksi” Hansen||465||55,944||$1,085,191|
|Benny “toweliestar” Spindler||3,582||228,419||$1,031,413|
|Gavin “gavz101” Cochrane||1,392||121,899||$724,407|
There are still 10 weeks left for these rankings to change, and you can keep track of the race in our weekly Online Railbird Report.
Data and hands obtained from HighStakesDB.com