It’s important to begin this article by pointing out that this is by no means an exhaustive and comprehensive collection of people who are factually known to be the biggest losing players online, as that would be almost impossible.
Players switch between different pseudonyms, or alternate between high buy in online tournaments and cash games, and besides, high stakes tracking is not 100% accurate either. Players can also opt out of most tracking statistics, meaning that there may be other players who have huge losses, but are not tracked.
This article aims not to point out failings. Its aim is to simply take a closer look at the stories of the biggest poker losses surrounding some of the players who have become famous for their online struggles, against the very best players in the world, who lurk at the very highest of stakes.
Paul Phua: $4,6 million
In recent times, online names which were formerly a mystery have been revealed, shedding greater light on the identities of our online heroes, and villains, depending on your view. “MalACEsia” is an online high stakes player who has been mixing it with the worlds best for years, and has since been revealed as junket operator, key player in Macau’s biggest games, and successful businessman, Paul Phua. Under his online alias, he has played just over 49,000 hands. This is around 3% of the total number of hands played by Gus Hansen for example, and is a small sample size. This obviously means that Phua’s losses aren’t necessarily an accurate reflection of his skill, and as with most rich businessmen, he isn’t hunting weaker players, he’s sitting with the best. Currently Phua‘s losses online stand at almost $4.6 million, but rumours suggest he is a massive winner in Macau’s big game, and could easily be seriously in profit when you look at live and online results together.
Chun Lei Zhou: $10,2 million
After starting out as “patpatpanda” before switching to the screen name “samrostan” Chun Lei Zhou is undoubtedly one of the biggest losing players on FullTilt, and also PokerStars, where he played under the name “patpatman.” His total online losses are estimated to exceed $10.2 million, but Zhou is not the sort of player you can push around. He once floated Phil Gruissem through two streets with 6 high and no draw, before bluff shoving the river, during an EPT High Roller tournament.
The audacity and courage of Zhou in that live hand against a world class pro, does a great deal to encapsulate what these biggest losing players are all about. Utterly fearless, they always want to fight the best players, and when they take a heavy beating, they get back to their feet and try again, endlessly. Too many people laugh at the biggest losing players, while remaining blind to an important fact: You don’t end up as one of online poker’s biggest losers by being a quitter who throws in the towel when things go badly.
Gus Hansen: $22 million?
As a highly respected live player, the anomaly of Hansen’s online results has been interpreted in different ways by different people. It’s easy for people to say that variance takes a lifetime to balance out live, but in his 1,600,000 or so hands that he has played online, Hansen‘s true ability has been revealed. In fact, this opinion fails to give consideration to important aspects of this data, such as the fact that Hansen never goes hunting for weak players. He makes a point of sitting against the very best, every time he plays online. By his own admission, he is very stubborn, and refuses to drop down in stakes to make life easier. He also claims that he has failed to work on controlling tilt issues, despite knowing that he could improve his results by doing so.
Gus Hansen has perhaps demonstrated the worst table selection of anyone online, and when you look at his losses of over $22 million, you would be tempted to think that’s a huge sum, and that he is a terrible poker player. When you break the numbers down though, for the stakes he is playing, and the number of hands he has played, his average “winrate”, would only be a very small negative number. Nothing to be ashamed of against the toughest opposition on earth. To see the smallest shark in his chosen pond and choose to put your hand into the water because you think he is a toothless fish – Is a dangerous and foolish mistake to make.
The day that Gus Hansen decided to quit online poker
Guy Laliberté: $26 million?
Topping our list of the biggest poker loss is the founder and former CEO of Cirque Du Soleil, Guy Laliberté, whose wealth is estimated to comfortably exceed $2 billion. He has helped to set up the “Big One for One Drop” tournament at the WSOP, generating huge amounts of money for the One Drop Foundation, which he himself founded, and has been a keen poker player for several years. It is widely believed that Laliberte has had a few different screen names online, including “noataima” and “lady marmelade.” The name “patatino” has also been linked to him, along with “Zypherin” too. If all these names are indeed Guy Laliberté, we can estimate that his online losses exceed $26 million.
He once said that he felt wronged by the Full Tilt policy of loaning vast amounts of money to their sponsored pros, as it meant that they were freerolling in games against him. Whatever his complaints, Guy Laliberté certainly suffered big losses at online poker, and once described the experience as “getting bent over, with me providing the Vaseline.”
It’s important to bear a few things in mind before mocking, or indeed sympathising, with Guy Laliberté. Firstly, he is a very wealthy man who has been a winner throughout life, and is probably happy to throw that kind of loose change about, because he enjoys the thrill of playing high stakes poker. Secondly, we don’t know how much he may have won or lost in live games where he could be up against other rich businessmen who are poker players of very limited ability. Thirdly, as founder of the One Drop Foundation, and his subsequent involvement in the associated WSOP event, he has done great things for the poker world, and also the real world.
These players don’t know what the word “defeated” means, and without them, the celebrated online pros who illuminated online poker with the biggest pots in online history, may never have had the bankrolls to do that.
These losing players deserve our respect and admiration for their sheer perseverance, and above all else, we should remember that they have always been the pillars upon which the world of high stakes poker is balanced.
Article By Craig G