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The Railbird Report: The Top 10 "Recreational" Poker Players

Railbird Report


  • Who are the top 10 best recreational poker players? @Dan_Shak leads our list.

In just a week's time, the One Drop Extravaganza kicks off at the Casino Monte Carlo. Guy Laliberté came up with the idea for the event and organizes the tournament in conjunction with the World Series of Poker. PokerNews will be on site to report everything live from Monte Carlo.

The Big One for One Drop at the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas in 2012 and 2014 attracted the biggest names in poker and the results of those two tournaments still dominates the all-time money list. This year, though, there's a twist; no professionals are allowed to play. Laliberté said in the announcement video that "the event is for recreational players only."

The question we need to look at is what makes someone a poker professional? My colleague Marty Derbyshire defines being a professional as "[people] who undergo specialized training and contribute something to society, practicing what they've learned professionally." I, personally, have a much less strict definition. For me, a poker professional is someone who relies on poker for (the most part) of their income.

That still isn't as strict a line as one might want when deciding who's a recreational player and who's a professional player. In the end, it doesn't really matter. As far as we know, it's up to Guy Laliberté himself to decide if you can play or not. It's as Daniel Negreanu said in an interview with PokerNews;

"Basically, if Guy wants to let someone play, he can let them play. It's that simple. People are like 'Well, are you gonna let Talal [Shakerchi] play? Do you consider him an amateur?' But really, it's up to Guy. It's as simple as that."

That doesn't mean we can't take a look who we think is eligible to play, and who's likely to compete. To start we've taken a look at the entrance list for The Big One for One Drop 2012 and The Big One for One Drop 2014. Everyone we know that has a different main job or is retired and plays poker as a hobby, and players we think Laliberté might consider playing, we listed underneath:

The Big One for One Drop 2012The Big One for One Drop 2014
● Bill Perkins● Rick Salomon
● Paul Phua● Tom Hall
● Chamath Palihapitiya● Gabe Kaplan
● Ilya Bulychev● Cary Katz
● John Morgan● Paul Newey
● Haralabos Voulgaris● Bill Klein
● Talal Shakerchi● John Morgan
● Cary Katz● Talal Shakerchi
● Dan Shak● Guy Laliberté
● Paul Newey● Rono Lo
● Rick Salomon● Stanley Choi
● Richard Yong● David Einhorn
● David Einhorn 
● Phil Ruffin 
● Bob Bright 
● Brandon Steven 
● Guy Laliberté 
● Frederic Banjout 
● Bobby Baldwin 
● Mikhail Smirnov 
● Giovanni Guarascio 

As you can see, there are recreational players that play just about full time these days, and you have recreational players that only play so often. While someone like Paul Newey plays a big slate of events every year, someone like David Einhorn or Chamath Palihapitiya really only show up for an event once a year.

But there are more recreational players in the world that might give this €1,000,000-buy-in event a try. There have been numerous other big events in the world besides the two One Drop tournaments, including the $250,000 reentry 2012 Macau High Stakes Challenge Super High Roller and $300,000 Super High Roller Bowl.

To get a feel for who might be competing, we've taken the all time money list on and filtered out all the players we know that play for a living and players that have never competed in big buy-in events. That doesn't leave a whole lot of players. So who are the best rich recreational players in the world, judging by their results?

1) Dan Shak

The Railbird Report: The Top 10 "Recreational" Poker Players 101
Dan Shak
Live earnings:$8,638,844
Position all time money list:60th
Biggest score:2nd place ($1,178,980)
 PCA 2014 $100,000 Super High Roller
Country:United States
Profession:Commodities Trader
More info:PokerNews profile
 Wikipedia profile

2) Stanley Choi

The Railbird Report: The Top 10 "Recreational" Poker Players 102
Stanley Choi
Live earnings:$7,104,152
Position all time money list:82nd
Biggest score:1st place ($6,465,574)
 2012 Macau High Stakes Challenge Super High Roller
Profession:Founder YunFeng Capital, largest shareholder Simsen International Financial Group
More info:Bloomberg profile

3) Cary Katz

The Railbird Report: The Top 10 "Recreational" Poker Players 103
Cary Katz
Live earnings:$7,114,113
Position all time money list:83rd
Biggest score:8th place ($1,306,667)
 2014 The Big One for One Drop (WSOP)
Country:United States
Profession:Former Board Chairman College Loan Corporation, Founder Poker Central®
More info:Bloomberg profile

4) Richard Yong

The Railbird Report: The Top 10 "Recreational" Poker Players 104
Richard Yong
Live earnings:$5,973,913
Position all time money list:114th
Biggest score:1st place ($1,477,560)
 Aussie Millions 2015 $100,000 Challenge
Profession:Gambling related business man
More info:PokerNewsPokerNews Top 10 Stories of 2014
 Richard Yong twitter

5) David Einhorn

The Railbird Report: The Top 10 "Recreational" Poker Players 105
Live earnings:$5,152,863
Position all time money list:150th
Biggest score:3rd place ($4,352,000)
 2012 The Big One for One Drop (WSOP)
Country:United States
Profession:Hedge Fund Manager, founder Greenlight Capital
More info:Wikipedia profile

6) Tony G

The Railbird Report: The Top 10 "Recreational" Poker Players 106
Tony G
Live earnings:$4,826,341
Position all time money list:166th
Biggest score:3rd place ($552,239)
 €25,000 High Roller EPT Grand Final 2009
Profession:Member European Parliament, Business man
More info:Wikipedia profile
 MEP profile

7) Mark Teltscher

The Railbird Report: The Top 10 "Recreational" Poker Players 107
Mark Teltscher
Live earnings:$4,165,025
Position all time money list:205th
Biggest score:2nd place ($920,015)
 2007 EPT Barcelona Main Event
Country:United Kingdom
Profession:Trader, real estate investor
More info:PokerNews interview 2015

8) Roger Sippl

The Railbird Report: The Top 10 "Recreational" Poker Players 108
Roger Sippl
Live earnings:$3,770,381
Position all time money list:235th
Biggest score:2nd place ($1,344,420)
 2015 PCA $100,000 Super High Roller
Country:United States
Profession:Entrepreneur software industry
More info:PokerNews article
 Wikipedia profile

9) Paul Newey

The Railbird Report: The Top 10 "Recreational" Poker Players 109
Paul Newey
Live earnings:$3,337,703
Position all time money list:293rd
Biggest score:7th place ($1,418,667)
 2014 The Big One for One Drop (WSOP)
Country:United Kingdom
Profession:Former Venture Capitalist, former owner Ocean Finance
More profile

10) Talal Shakerchi

The Railbird Report: The Top 10 "Recreational" Poker Players 110
Talal Shakerchi
Live earnings:$2,711,458
Position all time money list:406th
Biggest score:1st place ($656,599)
 2013 EPT London £10,000 High Roller
 1st place ($1,468,000.88)
 2016 SCOOP Main Event
Country:United Kingdom
Profession:Hedge Fund Manager
More SCOOP report
 Poker Life Podcast with Joey Ingram

The organization announced last week that 35 players have signed up, but no names were in the press release. Dan Shak leads the Top 10 we composed and intends on playing the event. He has poker pro Scott Seiver as his mentor and sells shares online:

Besides Shak we know Guy Laliberté is playing himself, coached by Daniel Negreanu:

Who's your money on from the Top 10 above?

Last Two Week's Biggest Pots Online

The three biggest pots of the last two weeks, all came from the $200/$400 pot limit Omaha tables. All of them were six-handed and all of them featured multiple people in the pot. All three times, the pot was chopped between two players while a third ended up losing all of it.

1) "Grazvis1" and "Ravenswood13" Chop a $206,872-Pot (517 big blinds) versus "EEE27"
($200/$400 PLO 6-Handed)

The Railbird Report: The Top 10 "Recreational" Poker Players 111
click for replay

"EEE27" opened under the gun for $1,880 and got called by "Grazvis1" on the button and Sergey "St1ckman" Vasiliev in the small blind. Big blind "Ravenswood13" squeezed to 9,880 and everyone called, growing a massive $40,080 pot going into the flop.

Vasiliev checked on {2-Clubs}{6-Hearts}{J-Diamonds} and "Ravenswood" bet pot, leaving himself $36,261.06 behind. "EEE27" called all in for $14,289.41 total and "Grazvis" pushed for $91,786.85, prompting a fold by Vasiliev. "Ravenswood13" called all in for $76,256.06 total.

(user)namehandequity on {2-Clubs}{6-Hearts}{J-Diamonds}

The three of them ran the turn and river twice. The first time it came {6-Clubs}, {4-Hearts}, making "Grazvis1" a full house and granting him half the pot. The second time it came {3-Clubs}, {5-Clubs}, giving "Ravenswood13" a flush and the other half.

2) "Aron0621" Wins in a $166,672-Pot (416 big blinds) versus "bajskorven87" and David "Bullitos" van der Weele
($200/$400 PLO 6-Handed)

The Railbird Report: The Top 10 "Recreational" Poker Players 112
click for replay

From the cutoff, "bajskorven87" raised to $1,200 and "Aron0621" three-bet to $4,680 from the button. Big blind David "Bullitos" van der Weele four-bet to $15,920 and both of his opponents called, growing the pot to $48,920.

The flop came {8-Clubs}{6-Hearts}{J-Diamonds} and Van der Weele pushed all in for $47,296. "bajskorven87" called all in for $23,160. "Aron0621" had them both covered and called the all-in as well.

(user)namehandequity on {8-Clubs}{6-Hearts}{J-Diamonds}
David "Bullitos" van der Weele{A-Clubs}{2-Clubs}{A-Spades}{Q-Spades}39.04%

The three of them ran it a single time, and it came {2-Hearts}, {10-Hearts} giving "bajskorven87" a winning backdoor flush. The side-pot went to "Aron0621" as the river ten gave him or her two-pair.

3) "Grazvis1" and Tom "tjbentham" Bentham Chop a $165,766-Pot (414 big blinds) versus Ben "Ben86" Tollerene
($200/$400 PLO 6-Handed)

The Railbird Report: The Top 10 "Recreational" Poker Players 113
click for replay

Ben "Ben86" Tollerene opened for $1,880 and his neighbor "Grazvis1" called from the cutoff. Small blind Tom "tjbentham" Bentham squeezed to $8,400 only to be called by Tollerene.

"Grazvis1" resqueezed for $36,360 and Bentham moved all in for $59,592.42. Tollerene had all of his chips all in as well, and so did "Grazvis1" soon enough.

Tom "tjbentham" Bentham{7-Spades}{A-Diamonds}{A-Clubs}{10-Diamonds}15.92%34.61%
Ben "Ben86" Tollerene{J-Spades}{8-Hearts}{J-Diamonds}{9-Spades}40.77%0.02%

They ran the entire board twice. The first time it came {Q-Spades}{3-Hearts}{K-Hearts}{8-Spades}{2-Hearts}, the second time around it ran out {K-Clubs}{5-Spades}{4-Hearts}{K-Spades}{2-Clubs}. Both times aces chipped the pot, leaving Tollerene the sole loser in the hand.

Online High Stakes Action Last Two Weeks

There was plenty of action online these last two weeks. After a somewhat slower week after WCOOP, the big names were back and several high stakes games started running. The biggest winner is Mikael "ChaoRen160" Thuritz, banking just over a quarter of a million, resulting in him being up over half a million for the year and almost $1.5 million lifetime. The biggest loser, according to HighStakesDB, was Isaac "philivey2694" Haxton.

 (user)namehandsprofit/loss last weekprofit/loss 2016profit/loss all time
 Winning Players    
1Mikael "ChaoRen160" Thuritz4,484+$251,444+$576,817+$1,437,365
2Dani "supernova9" Stern1,246+$244,373+$200,387-$234,073
4Jason Mercier3,659+$99,760-$73,650-$519,762
5Ben "Sauce123" Sulsky1,903+$89,753+$1,005,326+$5,042,529
6Phil "MrSweets28" Galfond839+$80,497+$216,893+$1,499,773
10Jens "Jeans89" Kyllönen299+$43,456+$211,372+$5,124,109
 Losing Players    
1Isaac "philivey2694" Haxton1,878-$179,485+$481,821+$692,372
3Daniel "KidPoker" Negreanu257-$131,057-$131,057-$492,733
4Scott "gunning4you" Seiver441-$111,196-$84,821+$143,175
8Jens "Fresh_oO_D" Lakemeier6,640-$50,519-$131,504-$345,756
10Mike "gordo16" Gorodinsky1,398-$38,961-$127,529-$463,611

The 2016 Leaderboard

With Isaac "philivey2694" Haxton losing almost $180,000 in the past two weeks, he slid down from the number 2 spot on the 2016 leaderboard to spot number 4. Mikael "ChaoRen160" Thuritz jumped into the spot left by Haxton, taking 2nd place in the yearly leaderboard.
Andres "Educa-p0ker" Artinano lost a bit but remains in third position.

 (user)namehands 2016profit/loss 2016profit/loss per hand 2016profit/loss all time↑/↓ this weekmost played game 2016
 Winning players      
1Ben "Sauce123" Sulsky72,107+$1,005,326+$13.94+$5,042,5298-game
2Mikael "ChaoRen160" Thuritz47,554+$576,817+$12.12+$1,437,365PLO
2Andres "Educa-p0ker" Artinano29,373+$561,801+$19.12+$982,789NLHM
 Losing players      
1Viktor "Isildur1" Blom163,726-$685,566-$4.18+$1,315,3948-game
3Alex "Kanu7" Millar27,382-$605,291-$22.10+$2,655,300NLHM

The above top three biggest winners and losers in online poker for 2016 and the top 10 biggest winners and losers online for the last week only consist of PokerStars accounts that haven't opted out with

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