4 Best Poker Players' Secrets of Success

When compiling a list of best poker players the most difficult task is to determine the criteria (major titles, cash winnings, longevity...). 

There has certainly been an abundance of players who have excelled in many different ways, both from a historical standpoint and also looking at the modern game.

Instead of giving you another list of the best players according to some arbitrary criteria, let us examine a list of some of the undoubtedly most successful players and try to figure out what exactly made them so successful.

Doyle Brunson

It's easy to justify adding Brunson's name to any list of excellent poker players: His resume and reputation in the poker world are unmatched. Brunson is a 10-time World Series of Poker bracelet winner, including two wins in the WSOP $10,000 Main Event.

Inducted into the Poker Hall of Fame in 1988, now at age 85 he still plays in some of the biggest cash games in the world. In 2018, Brunson even made a WSOP final table at age 84. A regular on televised cash games, Brunson is one of the most recognized players in poker.

But the thing that makes Doyle Brunson really special is his strategic mind! He was one of the definitive poker strategy authors from the pre-poker-boom era and his books Super System and Super System 2 are still two of the most famous poker books on the strategy of all time.

Brunson's usual strategy is to play very tight in the beginning levels of a tournament and then to kick in his trademark aggressive and positive poker in the later stages.

Daniel Negreanu

Always number one on the lists of the most popular poker players, Negreanu is the most famous poker player of the modern era. He was the face of PokerStars for more than a decade, serving as the company’s most high-profile ambassador from 2007-2019.

Negreanu's special power is his gregarious personality. “Kid Poker” is always quick with an opinion and has been one of the most prominent voices in the game. His career strategy includes a substantial multimedia presence through vlogs, podcasts, social media, writing, and more.

All of this, in addition to his unique ability to deduce his opponent’s cards, has made him be a definitive fan favorite.

Antonio Esfandiari

Esfandiari entered poker history on July 3, 2012, when he won the largest buy-in tournament in history, the Big One for One Drop, a $1,000,000 buy-in live event. After beating 47 other players, he earned $18,346,673, the highest single pocket payout in the history of poker tournaments.

This is how Esfandiari, a former magician from Iran, performed the biggest trick of his career - by making dozens of poker players disappear, leaving just himself with a gigantic pile of money. The spectacular win instantly catapulted Esfandiari to the position of the highest earner in live poker tournament history with over $23 million in winnings.

The story of Esfandiari is one of inspiration. His win was one of the reasons why poker became enormously popular in the Middle East in recent years. Unfortunately, as a resident of most countries in the region, you can’t just walk down the street and step inside a live poker room, which is why the demand for online poker there is on the rise and why the next Esfandiari might be hiding inside their house rather than out in the open. Moving poker games online comes with many perks, such as finding promotions on tournaments, or even playing for free, as well as being able to sit at multiple tables at the same time, as seen on arabianbetting.com - something quite impossible in real life.

Erik Seidel

Eight-time WSOP bracelet winner who has made an impressive 35 final tables and whopping 92 cashes - including his 2nd place finish in the 1988 Main Event behind Johnny Chan. Seidel was one of the original players from New York City’s Mayfair Club - the famous club that was the inspiration for the film Rounders and also hosted famous players such as Howard Lederer, Stu Ungar, Dan Harrington, and others.

Seidel grew up playing backgammon and while working as a stock trader he began seeking out the action as a poker player.

He is famous for being a kind of renaissance man. Maria Konnikova, the author of the book The Biggest Bluff, wrote this of Seidel:

“He may be the only poker pro to boast a membership to the Brooklyn Academy of Music, a willingness to fly across the country to see Dave Chappelle do stand-up, or a near-encyclopedic knowledge of the latest in the culinary scene from Los Angeles to Manila - His curiosity is genuine and boundless, his enthusiasm for life entirely contagious.”

Erik Seidel is also a great teacher – Konnikova knew nothing about poker before writing her book, but after Seidel mentored her and served as her coach, she soon scored a major win at the PCA!