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Biggest Poker Losses in History

We all remember the biggest winners, but who have been the biggest losers?

When it comes to poker, both wins and losses come hand in hand. We all dream of that big win, envious of those that succeed, but we forget that there are losses too. Players that win big are also statistically likely to lose big too. However, unlike many of us, they can often make this money back. But that doesn't mean some of those losses aren't truly epic. Read on to find out some of the biggest losses in poker history and how to avoid making the same mistakes!

Avoiding a loss

For most of us, when we get playing, we at least try to stick to a budget. Generally, this isn't the case for high rollers with cash to spare. If you are planning on playing poker at somewhere like, we do recommend that you put a budget in place.

If you don't set a budget, that's when the big losses can hit you. Chasing wins is another part of that problem, so we suggest that with your smaller budget you don't run this risk. Don't forget, too, that professional players also have years of experience up their sleeves.

As a final tip to not losing big, it's a good idea to pick one type of poker game and stick to it, learning all the tips and tricks before playing. We also suggest trying out free poker games first so that you get some practice without the risk of losing.

Just a couple of million!

There are a number of high profile poker players who have lost a couple of million when playing but have also made equally large amounts. Phil Galfond has made over $8 million when playing online poker, but that hasn't stopped him from losing too. In one instance, after choosing to play a new variant, he lost nearly $2.5 million.

Another player with a good win record is Di Dang. However, despite having one of the most consistent win records out there, he still suffered a slump. In just one year Di Dang lost over $2.6 million, and a few years later he stepped back from playing!

Brian Townsend is one of the sadder tales out there. After being relatively successful for many years, he hit a $2.5 million loss. Instead of walking away, Townsend chased that loss, losing an epic $2 million more. He hasn't played poker as much since then.

There's always a bigger fish

Players like Ben Sulsky are known for their massive wins. In fact, Sulsky was raking in yearly profits in excess of $4 million before he moved up a level in the playing field. His exposure to a higher level of player meant he was outplayed regularly, losing $3 million in just one sitting.

Another high earner, the Finnish player Patrik Antonius, was at the top of his game before things took a turn. After losing $4 million in a single game, the Finn blamed back issues for the loss. It might not have been just about saving face though; his fortunes did turn around once he recovered.

Phil Ivey is well known for being one of the best players out there, winning huge amounts regularly. But even he is not immune to a loss or two. With earnings of over $20 million at tournaments, a switch to 8-game tables wasn't so favourable, seeing him lose more than $5 million.

poker losses
The face of a man who just lost a big pot

Pros and Cons of Playing Poker Online


  • You can hone your strategy skills
  • It's affordable to play
  • You can play whenever you want
  • Lots of variety


  • You can't see other players' tells
  • Addiction is an issue
  • Big losses are still an issue

Even More Millions

As we move on, the list of losers gets even more impressive. Ilari Sahamies is known for his aggressive playing style, even playing while drunk on occasion - something we recommend you avoid! It didn't go his way, so it's no surprise that he's lost six of the $7 million he's earned.

One of the more mysterious online players out there, Noataima, has also made a lot of losses. Similar to Sahamies, Noataima has lost over $7 million, but it's unclear how much of that was their life's winnings so we can't make a complete comparison on that loss.

Victor Blom was a complete unknown when he won $7 million in a tournament. But this surprise win was to be his undoing, with players lining up to compete against him. Unfortunately, more experienced players were able to score some big wins and in the end, he lost a total of $7.5 million.

The Biggest Loser

However, if we're taking a look at the biggest poker loser out there, the prize has to go to Gus Hansen. Hansen, like many others on this list, has a long history of epic successes within the poker world. However, these were all in the live arena.

The transition to the online poker platform meant that he was unable to repeat such high-level successes - perhaps because he could no longer see the other players and judge their moves. Be that as it may, Hansen has now racked up some pretty impressive losses.

In fact, these losses are reported to be as much as $22 million, which makes him one of the biggest losers out there. However, if you look at his play, he only takes on the best and refuses to back down. Though a huge sum to lose, his previous successes mean that this man is still a winner.

Learn the lessons

There are a number of takeaway lessons to learn here. If you don't want to lose, don't be stubborn like Hansen. Know defeat when you see it and don't chase the loss in the hope that you will turn things around - it doesn't work for the pros either!

Think long-term

While you may lose one or two hands, the key is to think long-term and not get caught in the moment. Never let a bad hand affect you and, if need be, take a break from the table and walk away to reset. You'll be better for it.

Play smartly

A final recommendation is to remain clear-headed. In the heat of the moment, this can be hard. But by avoiding playing when you're angry, sad or just plain drunk, you can make sure you make rational decisions that will see you have a better outcome in the game.

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I avoid a loss in poker?

You can avoid losses by playing smartly and sticking to a budget.

Is there a best practice I can use?

You can make sure you understand the rules of the game as well as implement poker variant strategies.

Is it possible to win back losses?

It is, but we don't recommend that you chase losses as this can lead to further losses too.

Can I make money from playing poker online?

Yes, you can. But unless you are a professional, it's not recommended that you try. Just play for fun!

Which poker variant should I play to win?

All poker variants have their pros and cons. Find the version that you enjoy playing.

Should I chase a loss?

Absolutely not. Chasing losses has the potential to cause you more problems down the line.

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