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Top 10 Stories of 2011: #5, The Year of Seidel

Erik Seidel

Remember when Erik Seidel was inducted into the Poker Hall of Fame in 2010? He was supposed to make his acceptance speech, receive a standing ovation from his peers and then slowly fade into obscurity, right?

Apparently Seidel didn't get that memo. The 52-year-old poker legend enjoyed a career year in 2011, cashing for more than $6.5 million in tournaments across the globe to claim the top spot on poker's all-time winnings list with nearly $17 million in lifetime earnings.

Seidel's memorable run began right off the bat in January with a pair of final tables at the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure. He took third place in a pot-limit Omaha event on Jan. 10, and three days later finished fourth in the $25,000 buy-in High Roller event for $295,960.

Those results helped fuel the fire inside Seidel. A week later, he flew to Melbourne for the Aussie Millions and turned the Crown Casino into his own personal playground. Within a span of five days, Seidel took third place in the $100,000 High Roller event and first place in the $250,000 Super High Roller event for a total of nearly $3.3 million. The $2.7 million score in the Super High Roller was the biggest of his career.

Now, most poker players would be delighted to cash for close to $4 million in their poker careers. Seidel had just done that in a month. But he wasn't done.

Not even close.

In February, Seidel made his way to the World Poker Tour's L.A. Poker Classic and made two more final tables, including a victory in another High Roller event to move past Phil Ivey for second place on poker's all-time winning list. A week later, Seidel was at it again. He overtook Daniel Negreanu for first on that prestigious list after outclassing the 64-player field at the NBC National Heads Up Poker Championship to add another $750,000 to his yearly earnings.

"It's a nice thing. I'm not going to throw it back," Seidel told PokerNews about passing Negreanu. "I don't get too obsessed with these things but it's nice. I'll enjoy it for the few months that I'm in front."

Did we mention he's also the most humble poker player on the planet?

Seidel's inconceivable hot streak was the talk of the poker world and even incited a music video from popular poker rapper "SrslySirius."

The "Year of Seidel" continued into the spring as the Hall of Famer took second place at the WPT Hollywood Poker Open for a paltry $145,000. He then traveled back home to Las Vegas for the WPT World Poker Championship and found himself back in the headlines. On May 17, Seidel defeated his friend Eric Lindgren heads-up to win the $100,000 High Roller event for $1,093,000. His yearly earnings had now eclipsed $5.5 million, and each of his four wins had buy-ins of more than $25,000.

Seidel's blazing run finally cooled in the summer as he played a limited schedule at the World Series of Poker and fell short of making a final table. However, he found his touch again at the new Epic Poker League in August, making the final table of the inaugural event and taking second place to Chino Rheem for $604,330. The world got to see how good Seidel truly is when he made a remarkable river call against Rheem at the final table. "He made like a sick soul read. That’s why he’s who he is,” Rheem later said about Seidel.

Seidel returned to the Palms in September and made a deep run in the second EPL Main Event, reaching another final table before handing his chips over to eventual champ Mike McDonald. Seidel's fourth place finish added another $184,000 to his seemingly infinite bankroll and brought his yearly earnings to more than $6.5 million. To give you an idea of how impressive that number is, take a look at Seidel's earnings over the past decade:

YearTournament Winnings

As if he hadn't already shown us what a true talent is already is, Seidel etched his name in poker history with his magical run in 2011. Amazingly, the run came after his accomplishments were already recognized with his induction into the Poker Hall of Fame. Who knows, maybe this is only the beginning of things to come for the man formerly acknowledged as one of poker's all-time bridesmaids.

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