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The Top Winners and Losers of 2009
Without a doubt, 2009 has been one of the most entertaining years in online high-stakes poker. With everything from the durrrr Challenge, to the story of Isildur1, there has always been something going on worth talking about.
Below are summaries of the top five money earners, and top five losers of the year, including a month-by-month graph of their results.
To see more stats and hand replays from throughout the year, head to MarketPulse.
It only makes sense to have the year’s top earner at the top of the list, so without further ado, we bring you the 2009 story of Patrik Antonius.
Patrik Antonius just might have hit the life jackpot. He was at one-time a model and tennis pro, before becoming one of the most respected, and feared, poker players in the world. He made the list of the top 10 top profit earners in 2007 under the username FinddaGrind with over $1.3 million earned.
In 2008, he made another $1.3 million, this time as part of Team Full Tilt.
This January Antonius made over $2 million and never dropped below that point. His year was filled with million dollar swings, but in the end, the Finnish pro always found a way to come out good.
On top of being the most profitable player on the year, Antonius was also busy breaking the records for the largest pots ever played online. Despite all of his profits, Antonius has fallen behind in the durrrr Challenge and needs to make close to $1 million in the second half to have a chance.
However, he finished 2009 as the top earner with a massive profit of over $8.9 million.
This year Phil Ivey has done exactly what Phil Ivey does every year: Win. In 2008, Ivey was the top online earner with over $7.3 million in profit. In 2007 he was the third largest earner with $1.9 million and this year he ends in second place with $6.3 million.
His story is the same every year: Any players, any game, any stakes. He’ll sit, and most of the time he’ll win. But even Ivey isn’t immune to the swings, starting off the year in the red he had to spend a couple of months getting back to even.
After an $800k loss in May, it was pretty much profit from that point on. Add these winnings to his two WSOP bracelets, Main Event final table appearance and prop bets won, and you have one hell of a good looking year.
CardRunners pro Brian Hastings has had one of the most interesting years out of anyone online. He started the year with a backing deal for playing the nose-bleed stakes against Gus Hansen.
Even with Hansen bleeding chips for months, Hastings struggled to get even for the majority of the year, finally showing a profit come August.
Come the end of November, it started to look as though Hastings would be having a positive year, but nothing too spectacular, or worth talking about. That was until he sat down with Isildur1 for possibly the biggest session in online poker history.
By the end of the single session with the game’s most explosive player, Hastings had made $4.2 million in profit; effectively ending Isildur1’s run at Full Tilt’s high-stakes tables.
The win was steeped in controversy when information came to light that Hastings, along with two fellow CardRunners pros Brian Townsend and Cole South, merged their hand history databases together to allow for an in-depth study of Isildur1’s heads up game.
For the full scoop on this controversy, head to: Full Tilt Suspends Brian Townsend.
Ashton “theASHMAN103” Griffin is only 20 years old, and began playing poker seriously in high-school. His downfall has always been bankroll management and tilt issues.
After a series of massive swings he went broke right at the beginning of the year, but Griffin finally got his head in the right spot coming in to April of 2009 when he was forced to get a stake to get back in the game.
Thanks to winning a prop bet for making $500k playing nothing higher than $25/$50 No-Limit immediately before the event was set to start, Griffin was able to enter into the $25k heads-up shootout, which he went on to win for another $500k.
Griffin’s heater continued over the next two months going from broke to the fifth most profitable player on the year. To read a full interview with Griffin about his heater, and life in poker, head to: Ashman103: The Interview Transcript.
Ilari “Ziigmund” Sahamies is one of the most well-known and entertaining online players in the world. Above all else he seems to have a love for gambling with sick amounts of money.
For a few days, Sahamies had convinced a few of the nosebleed players to convert the $500/$1,000 Pot-Limit Omaha tables into $3,000/$9,000. Along with all the massive flips Sahamies played over the year, it’s safe to say he is the biggest gambler at the tables.
But despite his love for gambling, Ziigmund is still one of the most profitable players in the world. The occasional swing aside, Ziigmund’s graph is mostly un-eventful, hovering around the $2-$3 million mark for the majority of the year.
It wasn’t until Ziigmund set his sights on Isildur1 that his graph took a violent swing upwards. After taking a few million from the unknown player, Ziigmund finished his year up an impressive $3.2 million.
True identity still unknown, Isildur1 showed up on the poker scene Sept. 16. He splashed around in medium to high-stakes for about a month before starting to take shots in the nosebleed games.
The true story of Isildur1 started on Nov. 7 when he began his first serious upswing by crushing well known players like Haseeb Qureshi and UgotaBanana. After these wins, Isildur1 seemed fearless, willing to play anyone at any stakes.
Soon Isildur1 set his sights on Tom “durrrr” Dwan and over the next three days he absolutely destroyed him for over $4 million. At his highest point on Nov. 15, Isildur1 sat with over $5 million in profit, only to lose it all, mostly to Ivey and Antonius, by the 21st.
After making another quick run back up to almost $3 million in just one week, Isildur1 began his largest downswing.
It was during the downswing where Isildur1 shattered all the records for the largest pots of all time. He first broke the record with an $878k pot versus Patrik Antonius, only to break that record a few days later losing the first pot worth over a million at $1,356,947.
Mostly a result of losing over $4.2 million in a single session to Brian Hastings, Isildur1 saw his roll get almost entirely crushed, sitting down over $2 million for the remainder of the month.
With his only hands being played at the medium stakes tables, it appears at this point as if Isildur1’s run at the highest stakes games online is through.
In 2008, David Benyamine was the sixth most profitable online player in the world. He finished the year having made almost $3 million profit and had snagged himself one of the most beautiful girls in poker, Erica Schoenberg.
At the very end of 2008, Full Tilt Poker dropped Benyamine as a red-name pro. As a result, he began 2009 playing under the username “MR B 2 U SON”. He played under that username until July of 2009 when his Team Full Tilt status was re-instated.
At the time of the username switch, Benyamine was down $731,128 on the year. Things continued to get worse for the French pro as he struggled throughout 2009, finishing down $2.9 million. To top it all off, many sources have reported an end to his relationship with Schoenberg.
All in all, 2009 might just have been the worst year in Benyamine’s career.
Sami “LarsLuzak” Kelopuro is a 22-year-old Finnish poker pro who showed up on the high-stakes scene in 2007. He made over a million dollars in both 2007 and 2008, plus a rumored large profit from $250/$500 No-Limit sessions played on Betfair poker.
Despite hopes of cementing his name as one of the top players in the world, 2009 turned out to be a complete disaster for Kelopuro.
Starting the year with an $810k loss, Kelopuro was almost able to grind his way back to even in February before beginning a landslide of losses.
At no point in 2009 did Kelopuro show a profit, despite his continued efforts at the games highest stakes. After reaching nearly $4 million in losses on the year, Kelopuro disappeared from the high-stakes games, sparking rumors of a busted bankroll.
With a laundry list of impressive results from both cash games and tournaments, it’s safe to assume the poker world will hear more from Kelopuro in 2010.
Tom “durrrr” Dwan
Tom Dwan has to be considerd one of the most entertaining poker players in the world. As a result, there has been more time spent talking about Dwan in 2009 than any other online player.
His year began by losing over $4 million in the first two months, only to grind back up to over $1.4 million in profit just four months later. However, the massive swings were only one of Dwan’s many stories on the year.
The first came with the introduction of the durrrr Challenge. After almost two months of speculation and rumors, Patrik Antonius stepped up as the first competitor, and the challenge was underway.
After a short period of consistent play between the two competitors, the Challenge took a hiatus as both players chose to focus on busting a new fish splashing around at the highest stake tables available.
It didn’t take Dwan, and the rest of the online regulars, long to bust a new fish calling himself Martonas, and the challenge seemed as if it would resume.
But it wasn’t long before another new face showed up on the scene and began stirring the pot. Luke “fullflush1” Schwartz proved to be as strong at the table as he was mouthy, focusing the majority of his insults at Dwan, including the now infamous “cork it durrrrballs”.
Schwartz successfully made over $700k at the tables before cashing out, and buying a house with his profits.
The next big story for Dwan came with the third unknown player to splash around in the big game. Unfortunately for Dwan, this player, Isildur1, would end up taking him for over $5 million, before giving it all away to everyone else.
Shortly after losing the majority of his online roll, Dwan became the newest member of Team Full Tilt, and began grinding his way back towards even. By the end of 2009 Dwan had brought himself back to -$4.3 million from his November low point of -$6.8 million.
On the bright side, he is ahead in the durrrr Challenge by over $937k.
This year’s story for Gus Hansen is simple: He made $3 million in the first month, mostly off Tom Dwan, then proceeded to lose almost exclusively for the remainder of the year. Although there were months in which he showed a profit, Hansen’s graph on the year is anything but encouraging.
Due to his consistent negative results, Hansen has become one of the most popular online players amongst the other regular high-stakes grinders. As he explained in an interview with PokerListings, the high-stakes games on Full Tilt simply follow him from table to table.
As a result, Hansen chose to play almost exclusively 7-Game for the remainder of the year, at times killing absolutely all high-stakes action for all other variants.
For a look into high-stakes, and how some of the other players in the game view Hansen, head to: State of the High Stakes Poker Nation.
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