The Biggest Poker Losses in History

March 24, 2021

Usually, new poker players can’t help but have stars in their eyes as they dream of winning life-changing sums of money. They see their idol poker players raking in millions during events and tournaments, but most rookie players don’t see the massive losses that some of these players suffer. Every great poker opportunity often comes with the risk of losing a considerable chunk of change.

Many casual players adhere to a budget. Free online play is the way that players keep it simple, but professional players who have given years to mastering poker are the ones that are prone to putting enormous sums on the line. Let us look at the experienced players who have endured significant losses.

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Ben Sulsky

Ben Sulsky initiated competing in online freeroll tournaments and did not involve cash when he first started playing. He then went out to build a bankroll of $3,000 and lost $1,200 in a single night. This loss hit him hard, due to which he stopped playing.
Sulsky returned after two years only to lose $1,000. He then put in a $1,000 deposit and started playing $0.10/$0.25 with bankroll management rules of 25-30 buy-ins. His winning streak started from this point on.
He became one of the best players in No-Limit Hold ’em and Pot-Limit Omaha and started having trouble locating action as other players denied competing with him. He won at the 2013 World Series of Poker $10,000 No-Limit Hold ’em heads-up event.
Sulsky excels in online cash games. He rarely played live tournaments. In the 2015 World Series of Poker, Sulsky started playing more of a live tournament circuit. He finished 4th in the $100,000 One Drop Tournament and the $50,000 Poker Player’s Championship with winnings of over $1,400,000.
In 2012, Sulsky had a successful year with approximately $4 million in winnings, but the succeeding year was quite the opposite. In 2013, he lost almost all poker earnings with a net loss of around $3 million in just two months.

Also Read – Top 20 All-Time WSOP Money list

Paul Phua

Paul Phua is a Malaysian Chinese businessman and a professional poker player. He is a casino VIP party promoter organizing high venture gambling in Macau. He is also known as “A Legend in the Gambling World” and “World’s Biggest Bookie.” He allegedly made a net worth of $400 million. In 2006, he worked with Steve Wynn, Wynn Macau’s owner, to make Wynn’s businesses successful.

Phua started playing Texas hold ’em in his 40s. Las Vegas cash games began transferring to Macau, and big players like Tom Dwan, Phil Ivey, John Juanda, Patrik Antonius, and Chau Giang started to play there. In 2011, other great professional poker players began to join Macau’s games that helped Paul learn. In 2012, he joined the World Series of Poker and won $1,000,000 in the Big One for One Drop event.

In the same year, he also won the £100,000 High Roller in London in heads-up play, which earned him $1,621,297. In 2016, he won the One Drop Extravaganza €100,000 Super High Roller in heads-up play, which made him $827,722.

Paul has played over 49,000 hands in online gaming, and his current online losses amount to almost $4.6 million


Ilari Sahamies

Ilari Sahamies is a professional poker player specializing in high-stakes pot-limit Omaha cash games. He used to compete in live poker tournaments in Finland before transitioning to online poker.

Sahamies is famous for his aggressive play and encountered one of the biggest poker turnarounds in history. His winnings reached $7 million at some point in 2010 but lost about $6 million by the end of that year. According to the critics, his frequent inebriated state might be the cause for his nemesis.

Also Read – Names you will find on Poker Hall of Fame

Chun Lei Zhou

Chun Lei Zhou ranked third in the biggest winners for 2016 with $748,018. Playing 166,226 hands made him one of the most active players online at the highest wages. One of Chun’s accomplishments is that most of this money was won playing an eight-game, a real versatile test for poker players. 

Chun Lei has been playing high-stakes poker for several years. He is not new to losing significant amounts of money. He is one of the losing regulars at the highest stakes.

Chun Lei’s losses on PokerStars total $2.06 million. On Full Tilt, he lost $2.61 million. He also lost $10 million under his other Full Tilt account. His total losses online are estimated to exceed $10.2 million.

While one of the accounts called the Samrostan has winnings of $460,000 on PokerStars, it is still far from recovering the online losses. Despite the losses, his passion for the game and dedication to work on his game is undeniable.


Gus Hansen

Gus Hansen is a very respected poker player. Every time he plays online, he makes it a point that he only sits against the very best in the game. 

Many people think that Hansen is a terrible poker player with losses of over $22 million. But keeping in mind the number of hands he has played, the breakdown of his numbers, and the stakes he is playing at, his average would only be a minimal negative number.


Guy Laliberté

Guy Laliberté is a poker player and the founder and former CEO of Cirque Du Soleil. At the WSOP, he helped organize the “Big One for One Drop” tournament and profited for the One Drop Foundation. Laliberté’s wealth is estimated to exceed $2 billion.

Laliberté is believed to have different aliases online, such as Lady Marmalade, Noataima, Zypherin, and Patatino. His combined losses of these aliases are almost over $26 million.

Laliberté was wronged by the Full Tilt policy of borrowing vast amounts of money to their sponsored financers, as it deemed freerolling in games against him. He is considered to be the biggest loser in poker to date.


Written By
Anshula Pattanayak

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