Phil Hellmouth

phil-hellmuth-300x269Phillip ‘Phil’ Hellmouth Jr., still known to many as ‘The Poker Brat’, despite turning 55 in 2019, was born in Madison, Wisconsin. He went to college locally, at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, before dropping out to focus on his poker activities. In the World Series of Poker (WSOP), Hellmouth earned his first cash as long ago as 1988, when he finished fifth in a Seven-Card Stud Split event at Binion’s, Las Vegas. However, the following year, at the age of 24, he won the WSOP $10,000 No Limit Hold’em World Championship at the same venue, making him, at the time, the youngest player to do so.

That record was beaten by Peter ‘Icegate’ Eastgate, aged 22, in 2008 and again, by Joe ‘The Kid’ Cada, aged 21, the following year, but Hellmouth still holds several WSOP records, including the most WSOP bracelets (15) and the most cashes (137). His victory in the WSOP Europe Main Event in 2012 also made him the only player ever to win the WSOP Main Event and the WSOPE Main Event. Hellmuth was inducted into the Poker Hall of Fame in 2007 and currently lies nineteenth in the all-time money list, with just shy of $23 million in live earnings.

For all his success in Texas hold’em and other poker variants, Hellmuth is still prone to foul-mouthed temper tantrums, particularly after a bad beat, and fully deserves his derogatory nickname. He was widely criticised for launching a verbal assault on James Campbell at the 2018 WSOP Main Event, simply because Campbell re-raised, all-in, after – at the time, unbeknown to Hellmuth – flopping a flush draw. As it turned out, Hellmuth folded, but Campbell failed to make his flush and lost the hand to the third player in the hand, Alex Kuzmin.

John Juanda

john-juandaJohnson Juanda, usually known as ‘John’ or by his nicknames, ‘J.J.’ or ‘Luckbox’, was born in Indonesia, but has resided in the United States since 1990 and is currently based in Marina del Rey, California. He currently lies fourteenth in the all-time money list, with $25.2 million in total live earnings.

Since turning professional in 1997, Juanda has won five World Series of Poker (WSOP) gold bracelets in poker variants including Texas hold’em, Omaha hold’em, stud and draw lowball, a European Poker Tour (EPT) title and numerous other tournaments worldwide. Indeed, he won his last tournament, a Triton Poker Super High Roller Series event in Budva, Montenegro – for which he collected HK$4,720,000, or $601,358 – as recently as May, 2019. His biggest payout, though, came in another event in the same series in Macau in 2017, when he claimed the first prize of HK$22,410,400, or $2,870,092, by defeating Fedor Holz heads-up.

Juanda, who turned 48 in July, 2019, has a reputation as a conservative, low-profile player and a man of few words; in fact, he is known, in some quarters, as the ‘Silent Assassin’. Nevertheless, he is one of the most successful and consistent players, online and live, of the last twenty years or so and was, quite rightly, inducted into the Poker Hall of Fame in Las Vegas in 2015. Fellow professional Daniel ‘Kid Poker’ Negreanu, who introduced Juanda at the Hall of Fame ceremony at Binion’s, once called him ‘the most underrated and neglected superstar’ in poker.

Fedor Holz

Fedor_Holz-683x1024Still only 25, Saarbrücken-born Fedor Holz has already enjoyed an extraordinary poker career. So far, he has won just one World Series of Poker (WSOP) bracelet, in the High Roller for One Drop event in 2016, but collected $5 million for his trouble and enjoyed his biggest payout yet, $6 million, when finishing runner-up to Justin Bonomo in the WSOP Big One for One Drop event in 2018. In his short, but highly lucrative, career, Holz, who specialises in high roller tournaments, has pocketed seven-figure earnings on five other occasions. Currently ranked sixth on the all-time money list, with $32.6 million in live earnings alone, he is, unquestionably, one of the most talented and, arguably, luckiest tournament poker players of his generation.

Holz started playing poker, informally, as a 17-year-old student, before turning to online poker once of legal age. Subsequently, under the auspices of a prominent multi-table tournament (MTT) player, he received the instruction, and stake, required to progress his career as a professional poker player, both online and live. Holz won his first cash prize, €15,320 , or $19,288, for finishing runner-up in the GPT II Deepstack Series Main Event at the King’s Resort Live in Rozvadov in the Czech Republic in 2012. He became a full-time professional poker in 2013, settled in Vienna, Austria – where he still resides – in 2014 and, later the same year, under the moniker ‘CrownUpGuy’, saw off 2,141 other players to claim the $1.3 million first prize at the World Championship of Online Poker (WCOOP) Main Event.

Justin Bonomo

Justin-Bonomo-1024x684

Like several of his fellow professionals, including Bryn Kenney, Justin Bonomo graduated to poker from ‘Magic: The Gathering’ at any early age. He frequently played poker online in his teenage years, but first came to worldwide attention when, in 2005, age the age of 19 – that is, still not of legal age to play live poker tournaments in the United States – he finished fourth in the European Poker Tour (EPT) French Open in Deauville, making him the youngest player to make the final table in a televised poker tournament.

Bonomo won his first of his three World Series of Poker (WSOP) bracelets in 2014, but his second and third in 2018, a year in which he won nine tournaments and over $25 million in prize money. Highlights of his ‘annus mirabilis’ included a Super High Roller Bowl China event at the Babylon Casino in Macau, worth HK$37.8 million, or $4.8 million, to the winner and, of course, the WSOP Big One for One Drop event at the Rio Casino in Las Vegas, worth a staggering $10 million. Bonomo has definitely benefited from the rapid increase in the number of ‘high roller’ poker tournaments in the last decade but, even so, his unprecedented winning streak in 2018 took him to the top of the all-time money list, ahead of Daniel Negreanu, with just over $45 million in live earnings alone.

Formerly a frequent and successful online poker player, under the moniker ‘ZeeJustin’, Bonomo has courted his fair share of controversy over the years and was, in fact, banned by PartyPoker for operating multiple accounts at the same time. However, in recent years Virginia-born Bonomo, 33, has focussed solely on live poker tournaments and, if 2018 and the early part of 2019 are anything to go by, appears to have made a wise decision.