Every poker aficionado will have their own opinion on who the greatest poker player of all time is. Greatness cannot be measured in tournament winning alone. Poker is such a complex, versatile game, which brings together players with such differing personalities and from all kinds of social backgrounds – it would be unfair to call someone the greatest of all time, simply because they have cashed the most cheques.
Do you go for the celebrity stature of Phil Ivey, female pioneers like Barbra Enright or Venessa Selbst, the unhinged genius of Stu Ungar, a student of the game like Daniel Negreanu, successful foreign imports like Scotty Nguyen, or elder-statesmen like Doyle Brunson or Johnny Moss – who have shown such longevity at the highest level.
There are a whole lot of factors that need to be taken into account when determining who the best of the best really is. However, PartyPoker think they’ve found a formula to figure it out.
PartyPokeranalysed this very debate earlier this year. Theyreleased this infographic - which uses an algorithm they designed themselves - in the hope of putting their finger on a definitive answer. Tournament earnings were taken into account, but so were versatility, years active, WSOP main event wins and poker books published, amongst the 11 judging criteria. This algorithm was used to assign points to all the poker stars involved in the debate. Who came out on top of the pile? The “Poker Brat” himself, Phil Hellmuth.
Whether you love him or you hate him, the stats on the infographic certainly make a good case for Hellmuth as the greastest poker player ever. As a fresh-faced, brash 24 year old, Hellmuth became the youngest player ever to win a WSOP Main Event, when he snatched the big prize from under Johnny Chan’s nose, at Binion Horseshoe in 1989. In the 27 years since, the California native has won a record 14 WSOP bracelets, including that historic win in ’89. He’s tried his hand at three other forms of poker – along with his favoured Texas Hold’em – he’s written four books on the sport he has mastered and he will go down as one of the biggest and most recognisable characters the game has ever produced.
There have been many incredible “Phil Hellmuth” moments, during his almost three decades at the top of the pokering world, moments which have helped him amass almost $20m dollars in tournament earnings. If judged on winnings alone, Hellmuth would sit fifth on PartyPoker’s infographic, with Daniel Negreanu leading the field by quite a distance. But Hellmuth boasts the whole package, with boast being the optimum word for one of the worst winners and sorest losers the game has ever created. However, there’s no doubting his style and quality on a poker table.
Hellmuth has always wanted to go down as one of the greatest poker players. Whether you agree with his number one ranking or not, he has given so much to the sport and provided viewers with such an incredible amount of entertainment, that there is no doubting his presence amongst the pantheon of poker’s elite.