We’ve asked the pros, searched our addled memory banks and put together the best of British poker for you, from blogs to casinos to money winners and top moments. Dive in and enjoy the best of British.
PokerPlayer Top 10 all-time money winners
1. Sam Trickett $16.47m
When Sam Trickett had his breakthrough win at GUKPT Luton in August 2008, he talked about how he’d got his Corgi registration as a gas fitter just in case the poker thing didn’t work out. With over $16 million in tournament winnings alone since he won’t be installing boilers anytime soon. The man from Retford has had a phenomenal rise to the top over the last four years, kicking off with a fourth spot at the $5k no-limit hold’em event at the WSOP in 2008 followed by the aforementioned GUKPT win to put him above $500,000 in lifetime earnings that summer.
He had to wait another two years before his next major cash when he was runner-up in the $5k no-limit hold’em event at the 2010 WSOP. This was the start of an amazing run that saw him finish fourth in EPT Vilamoura then win the A$100k high-roller at the Aussie Millions and finish second in the A$250k event for a total of A$2.925m. He then went on to smash up the Macau cash games before returning to Europe to win the Partouche Poker Tour main event for a cool €1m. By this point, Trickett was already with UK’s most successful tournament player in history, but his summer of 2012 sealed that spot in comprehensive style with a $10m win at the Big One for One Drop at the WSOP.
Can he be caught? It seems pretty unlikely. Can he extend his lead yet further? That depends on how many more high-roller tournaments he plays. A true poker phenomenon. And he can also install your central heating. You can’t get more British than that.
2. Dave Ulliott $6.01m
If you don’t know who Dave ‘Devilfish’ Ulliott is you’ve probably picked up the wrong magazine. The UK’s first poker superstar was little known outside the live poker circuit when he won his WSOP bracelet in 1997, and it was Late Night Poker that thrust him into fame two years later. The man from Hull, decked out in John Lennon shades and a smart suit was a cool, calculating villain on the way to victory in the first series. Since then he’s rarely been out of the spotlight, even if these days he’s taking a back seat to the new generation of online kids. Amazingly, despite his $6m in winnings he’s never had a seven figure score, with his best result back in 2007 when he finished third in the WPT Five Diamond for nearly $700k. He’s not had a six figure score since 2010, but remains one of the UK’s true poker greats and we’d love to see him make one more comeback. Maybe he needs to rediscover the suit and the shades. It’s got to be better than dressing like a colour blind teenager.
3. Roland de Wolfe – $5.33m
It’s hard to explain how absurdly hot Roland de Wolfe ran between 2005 and 2007. After leaving a job writing for PokerPlayer’s now defunct sister magazine InsideEdge in 2005 he quickly notched up his first big win at WPT Paris in July 2005 and a seat in the $25k WPT World Championship. He went on to finish third for $1m the following April and then won the EPT Dublin a few months later. Incredibly, he then went on to runner-up the Irish Open in April 2007. The only thing remaining to be won was a WSOP bracelet, which he duly notched up in 2009 to be Britain’s first Triple Crown winner. These days he mainly sticks to super high-stakes cash games, although he did pop up at the One Drop this summer.
4. Surinder Sunar – $4.59m
One of the legends of the game, Surinder Sunar has racked up millions in a career that stretches back more than 25 years. But it’s the infamous encounter with Tony G he will be remembered for, when he took a barrage of abuse at the WPT Paris. Sunar had the last laugh that time as he took the title. And he’s still got the game as he proved when finishing runner-up in the 2011 Irish Open.
5. Marty Smyth – $3.88m
The man from Belfast won the vast majority of his money in a two year burst between 2007 and 2008 when it looked like he had the game cracked. In the space of 20 months he notched up an Irish Open win, second place in the Poker Million VI, victory in the $10k PLO bracelet event at the WSOP and a win at Poker Million VII. Since then he’s not managed another major result, but you can’t help hoping he does soon. Smyth is one of the nicest guys you will meet at the tables.
6. Ram Vaswani – $3.48m
The most enigmatic player in UK poker history. The Hendon Mobber is a man of (very) few words, with a playing style that was way ahead of its time. His aggressive, fearless approach has won him a lot of fans and even more cash over the years. He won the third EPT in 2004, a WSOP bracelet in 2007 and very little since. He’s a rare sight on the circuit these days, but will always be a legend of the game.
7. Neil Channing – $3.33m
The Godfather of UK poker is one of the most charismatic characters on the circuit and a featured cash game player alongside his tournament success. He’s also well known as a shrewd staker having invested in November Niner James Akenhead among many others on the UK scene. His breakthrough win was his Irish Open victory in 2008.
8. Tony Bloom – $3.31m
Pro sports bettor Tony Bloom is a rare site on the tournament circuit these days, but was once a regular fixture. He has recorded over $3m in tourney winnings thanks in no small part to a phenomenal record at the Aussie Millions. He’s won it once and twice finished runner-up in the $100k high-roller event.
9. John Gale – $3.30m
John Gale’s biggest win was actually his first major live cash when he took down the 2005 PokerStars Caribbean Adventure. Between 2005 and 2010 he recorded a number of major scores in the US, including a WSOP bracelet win in 2006.
10. Jake Cody – $3.16m
One of the UK’s hottest talents. With a Triple Crown already in the bag thanks to EPT Deauville and WPT London wins in 2010 and the 2011 WSOP $25k heads-up championship, he would be forgiven for taking it easy. But the PKR pro is a permanent fixture on the circuit and we wouldn’t bet against another major score soon.
PokerPlayer Top 5 Poker Rooms
1. Dusk Till Dawn
The biggest and arguably the best poker room in the country is the massive Dusk Till Dawn in Nottingham. With a propensity for running ambitious guarantees they also put on some of the best tournaments in the UK, not least of which was the £1 million guaranteed UKIPT earlier this year. Their own events are also impressive in scale with £100k and £250k guarantees not uncommon. Standard are high and the club is clearly run by people who love the game. Its location isn’t the best, sitting on an industrial estate in Nottingham, but for a pure poker experience it’s hard to beat.
2. The Vic
This is the home of UK poker, where some of the greats of the game learned their trade and most still frequent. Its inauspicious location off the side of the Edgware Road belies the quality inside. Most of the casino’s first floor is given over to poker with a huge array of tables at all stakes and we defy you to find a time day or night when a game isn’t running. The staff are great, the tables and cards are high quality and even the food is good. There is a good range of tournaments here and a number of excellent festivals around the year, but this is first and foremost a cash game haven. If you’ve never been, you owe it to yourself to check it out.
3. Grosvenor Casino Coventry
This is the most Vegas-like casino in the UK, from the waterfalls to the glass floors to the huge venue. The poker room is massive and plays host to one of the UK’s biggest tournaments in the GUKPT Goliath. But aside from that it is also host to some thriving cash games and tournaments for all stakes and is one of the best venues in the Midlands.
4. Grosvenor Casino Brighton
There are few casinos with a better location in the UK. While some may love an industrial estate, or pine for a side-road behind the train station, at PokerPlayer we think a casino on the seafront near some bars is about as good as it gets. Brighton’s Grosvenor Casino is opposite the pier, and gets a lively trade in late-night drinkers. And if you want to take a break you can step outside and breath in some sea air.
5. Aspers Newcastle
Not only is this one of the nicest looking casinos in the UK, it’s located in the centre of the UK’s biggest party town. It’s well-run with a good range of tourneys and cash games. And it’s the only poker room in the UK you can come out of at 7pm on a Sunday evening and see women in bikinis falling over a man dressed in a Superman outfit. Who doesn’t want that?
PokerPlayer Top 7 poker moments
1. Dave Ulliot on Late Night Poker
The first poker show with hole cards, a dark atmospheric set and whispered commentary from Jesse May. Late Night Poker was like nothing ever seen before, and one man epitomised the cool new world of poker. Dave ‘Devilfish’ Ulliott. He inspired a generation of poker players, and made poker look cool. For that, Dave, we thank you.
2. The Monte Carlo Millions and that hand
The Monte Carlo Millions was a short-lived attempt to add a touch of glamour to tournament poker, held in the Beaux-Arts Monte Carlo Casino. The 2005 edition saw a $25k buy-in and the UK’s Paul Jackson and Marc Goodwin at the final table alongside one Phil Ivey. It was a huge moment for UK poker and feature that famous Ivey vs Jackson hand that will go down in history.
3. Liv Boeree winning EPT San Remo
A defining moment for UK poker. When Liv Boeree emerged as EPT San Remo champion she found herself making headlines in all the major newspapers and even appeared on BBC Breakfast news. This was poker going mainstream and she remains the highest profile player in the UK. All because of a few coinflips going her way. Funny old game.
4. James Akenhead in November Nine
The first November Nine from the UK was British poker pro James Akenhead. He wasn’t the first Brit to make the WSOP Main Event final table, but he was the first to do it on the newly hyped stage of the November Nine. Akenhead’s achievement got the whole UK poker scene talking about him and got some mainstream press for poker. He also showed a generation of younger players they could do it too.
5. Jake Cody’s WSOP heads-up win
This was arguably the high-point for UK poker’s dominance of 2011, when the new generation came through and proved the UK was the new home of poker. The style of Cody’s win was something beautiful to behold as he destroyed one of the best fields ever assembled. A masterclass.
6. Sam Trickett winning $10 million
Ultimately poker is all about the numbers, and they don’t get much bigger than this. Trickett’s ten million dollar summer will not be forgotten in a hurry and it elevated him to another level of poker celebrity. The event shown live on ESPN in the UK was also a breakthrough moment for the game. Sensational stuff.
7. John Duthie winning the Poker Million
The coolest man in poker and the founder of the EPT took down the first ever Poker Million in the Isle of Man. This was back when $1m was a lot of money, and people would rather shave their head than four-bet light. Duthie smashed up the Poker Million live on TV and showed just how f%*!ing cool poker could be. Star.
Ross Jarvis’ Top 5 UK Poker blogs
1. Vicky Coren
Poker player, journalist, presenter and thinking man’s crumpet Vicky Coren is also the proud owner of the UK’s best poker blog. At times funny, moving and thought-provoking, it’s a must-read.
2. Lil Dave Nicholson
An essential read for any young wannabe UK baller, ‘Lil’ Dave Nicholson’s blog reveals the glamorous reality of a life lived in Las Vegas…and Leeds.
3. Neil Channing
The Godfather of UK Poker’s blog offers a typically sardonic look at a life spent mostly in card rooms around the world. Expect laughs and the occasional slice of inspired comment on the poker industry.
4. Dara O’Kearney
O’Kearney is one of the most familiar faces on the UK and Ireland live circuit. His blog is always full of interesting tournament reports and funny stories involving some of the best young pros around.
5. Will ‘Brothermuzone’ Dorey
Rising high-stakes cash player Will Dorey’s creative blog sees him assume the persona of gun-toting hitman ‘Brother Muzone’ from TV show The Wire – with often comical consequences.
Lil Daves top 7 poker heroes
1. Dave Shallow
Undeniable legend of UK poker, famed more for antics in nightclubs than on the tables, but an incredible natural talent and one of the nicest guys around.
2. Dean Lyall
Another great player more known for partying than playing, once got drunk in Madrid and woke up in Cyprus!
3. David Burn
Plays some of the highest stakes PLO games online and as hard working as anyone in the UK. One of the best players you won’t have seen on a magazine cover.
4. Luke Fields
Infamous for his aggressive bankroll management and high-stakes heads-up PLO endeavours. Expect more big things from this man soon!
5. David Gent
Seen online nearly every day taking on almost anyone at nearly any stakes. One of the best and most hard working guys playing online in the UK.
6. Stuart Barnett
Has an ‘old-school’ knack for reading the game. A lovely guy as well.
7. Lawrence Gosney
The ultimate poker player, expressionless, fearless and plays the game in the best possible spirit. Also f@%*king hilarious.
Karl Mahrenholz’s top 5 tournament poker venues
1. Dusk Till Dawn
Built for poker from the ground up and with someone as experienced as Simon Trumper in charge of the poker schedule, it’s going to be hard to find somewhere offering as much choice of quality events, and in such spacious surroundings.
2. Palm Beach Casino, London
You won’t get many large field events here but what you will get is a top quality weekly schedule and the best £1,000 monthly one day tournament in the country. £20k+ for one night’s work? Yes please. Luxurious surroundings, great food and a real mix of poker players and rich gamblers.
3. Fox Poker Club, London
As London bids a sad farewell to the Gutshot/International club, the centrally located Fox club has emerged as one of London’s top poker clubs. Very friendly atmosphere and a great poker schedule to cater for all bankrolls.
4. Genting Club, Stoke
This casino has a huge local poker base. As a result, tournaments are run extremely slickly with nice touches such as split-screen tournament clocks (no more confusion, waiting to cycle through the side event details when still in the main). Every year they run a tournament with £6k added – one of the best value tournaments on the UK calendar.
5. Broadway Casino, Birmingham
An independently run casino with a strong poker following. Their festivals are very well run with great structures, and it is one of the most spacious casinos in the country with a great restaurant to boot. What’s not to like?
Vicky Coren’s Top 5 poker heroes
1. John Duthie
Because he’s European poker’s Mr Big, the man who invented the EPT. He’s also the coolest man in poker, one of the nicest –and maybe the most fl airy player in the world. But only when he’s in the mood to be flairy. Which is, if you think about it, a lot more fl airy than just being fl airy all the time.
2. Poker Alice
Because she played professional poker in 1870 – a hundred years later, she was probably still the only woman who ever had. And she smoked cigars. And she spent her life in dusty old American saloons, but was English, which just makes her all the cooler.
3. The Cincinnati Kid
Because he was brilliant, but he was never the best. And you can’t always be the best. Sometimes, you can never be the best. Dealing with that graciously, and being happy to win anyway – and sometimes just to play anyway – is probably the most important lesson you can learn. Everyone on this list is meant to be British – in theory he wasn’t, except he was a fictional character, so he’s every nationality and none. He’s just all of us.
4. Jeff Duval and Alan Vinson
They count as one because they’re always together. If you don’t know them, they’re both London players – not in the first flush of youth, maybe, but younger at heart than half the teenage whizz kids out there. I love them because Jeff’s always fun and Alan’s always funny, so any card room is a nicer place to be when they’re around. That kind of quality should never be underestimated.
5. Leslie Grantham
The guy who played Dirty Den in Eastenders. I once did commentary on him when he was playing a celebrity poker tournament. He called a huge bet on the turn with a flush draw. On the river, he made the nuts. And he immediately folded, out of turn, for no bet at all. That was one of the highlights of my poker life.