The Greatest Tournament Runs in Poker History

The history of poker is an interesting story, and one which throws up very unusual chapters on occasion. Players who are working hard and competing to make their mark in the game suddenly hit an explosive run of form that leaves a permanent crater, rather then a simple mark.

While no one would argue that luck is not a significant factor in these incredible runs of form, there is a lot of truth to the ancient saying that

“Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.”

Without hard work, no player will ever be in prime position to capitalise on luck when it arrives. Here are the players who took the opportunity of running good, and turned it into a legendary string of results.

Daniel Colman: $22,389,481 in 2014

Daniel Colman (Photo WSOP)

Having begun his poker training online, Daniel Colman had come to be known as a heads up collossus, but his live results, mostly since 2011, weren’t overly special. No one could have predicted the huge impact he would have on the world of live poker after hitting his first live six figure score in late 2013. He won the EPT Monte Carlo Super High Roller in April 2014 for over $2.1 million, before taking 3rd in the WSOP $10,000 Heads Up NLH event for $111,942. He then went and won the Big One for One Drop tournament, adding $15.3 million to his career winnings. 2nd place at the EPT Barcelona Super High Roller soon followed, adding a further $1.1 million to his bankroll, before winning the Seminole Hard Rock Poker Open just ten days later for $1.4 million. Just over $957,000 would then be won by Colman at the WPT Alpha 8 tournament in London, before a comparatively small $373,000 win at the ACOP in Macau.

His 2015 year may not have been quite as profitable, but his only two cashes did amount to the incredible sum of over $1.8 million.

Fedor Holz: 14,658,144 in 2016 and counting

Fedor Holz
Fedor Holz started the year with a victory in Manila

At just 22 years old, Fedor Holz holds a commanding lead in the German all time money list, and when you consider the fact that he only really started playing the live circuit in 2013, that is an amazing fact. The bigger results in Holz‘s run began to flow in late Spring 2015, when he picked up two scores in the $370,000 region, adding more than $500,000 at the WSOP, where he finished 25th in the Main Event. Late 2015 saw the first seven figure score arrive at the WPT Alpha 8 High Roller, which Holz won for $1,589,219. Just two weeks later, he won the Triton Super High Roller, adding a further $3.4 million to his tally. Five and six figure scores continued to flow until another huge $3.5 million score for 2nd in the Super High Roller Bowl in May. This kick started an amazing summer, in which Holz added further six figure scores amounting to over $1.7 million, before winning his first WSOP bracelet, and just under $5 million during the $111,111 One Drop High Roller tournament. His run shows no sign of slowing at the moment.

Steve O’Dwyer: $7,717,317 between January 2015 and January 2016


The early results of Steve O’Dwyer‘s live career were fairly unremarkable, as you would expect from a man who had done a small amount of tournament reporting, before finding his feet in live tournaments. With his first live result appearing in 2007, it wasn’t until 2011 that O’Dwyer really came to the attention of the poker world. Winning the Bellagio Cup for over $259,000 was followed by 2nd place in the EPT London Main Event, which earned him $726,790. Quietly sharpening his skills over the next few years, O’Dwyer showed great consistency in picking up five figure scores, with a few six figure paydays along the way. While his main tournament streak didn’t fully heat up until 2015, O’Dwyer brought himself to the poker world’s attention once more in 2013 when he won EPT Monte Carlo for over $1.6 million, before taking 3rd in the EPT Barcelona Super High Roller for $475,000.

O’Dwyer‘s run briefly cooled, before igniting once more at the end of 2014, as he won the ACOP Super High Roller for over $1.8 million. Just two months later he bagged another $1.8 million score at the PCA Super High Roller event, before two small six figure scores in early 2015. Another High Roller event at EPT Monte Carlo added another $589,297 to his list of accomplishments, before several more six figure scores up to $360,000 were claimed up to December. Once again, O’Dwyer picked up momentum with a Super High Roller win at EPT Prague for $809,752 before adding $953,700 at the Triton Super High Roller series in the Philippines. He followed that up immediately with a High Roller win at the PCA for another $945,495. Just a few weeks later, he hit two more big cashes totalling over $920,000 at the Aussie Millions.

Erik Seidel: $6,530,154.00 in 2011

Eric Seidel (Photo Neil Stoddart courtesy of PokerStars)

It is well documented that Erik Seidel has had a very successful career spanning around thirty years, during which time he has won eight WSOP bracelets. During 2011 though, Seidel hit the best run of his career, picking up huge scores one after another. It began in January, when Seidel cashed for $295,960 at the PCA. He then turned his attentions to the Aussie Millions, where he took 3rd and 1st in High Roller events for $618,139 and $2,472,555. Another small six figure score followed in February, before he won the NBC National Heads Up Championship in March for $750,000. April saw Seidel place 2nd in a WPT event for over $155,000 before winning another Super High Roller for $1,092,780. Unfortunately, his run seemed to be reaching its end as he arrived at the WSOP that year, but he did notch one more big result, when he finished 2nd in the Epic Poker League Main Event for $604,330.

Seidel’s amazing year was no fluke however, as he continues to excel in big tournaments. He won multiple six figure scores in 2015 and 2016, along with a seven figure score of over $2 million in each of those years.

Johnny Chan:  Winning the Main Event in 1987, 1988 and finishing runner up in 1989

WSOP2010 JohnnyChan Carousel
Johnny Chan (Photo WSOP)

This streak was a little different to most, as the most important results within it came in the biggest live event in the world. Outside of the WSOP Main Event, Chan was still enjoying a great run however, as he won almost $200,000 in the first two months of 1987, having made less than that in the whole of 1986. When he came to the WSOP in May, he quickly added $51,000 for a 3rd place finish, before winning the Main Event for $625,000.

This cash was the first of four in a row which were all 1st places, and included the 1988 Main Event, which netted Chan another $700,000!

The run of 1st places came to an end when he played the 1989 Main Event however, as Chan finished 2nd, for $302,000. He rounded off 1989 with another 1st place in December, banking a further $232,000 in the process.

Article by Craig B.

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Louis Hartwell

Graduated in Media Communication at the University of Lausanne, Louis Hartman is a co-founder of He began his career in Cambodia as freelance journalist. In same time he was making his living by playing poker every night at that time. Intense learner, he read dozens of poker strategy books to improve his skills during many years. With a strong interest about poker "behind the scene" in Asia and his communication skills, Louis launched Somuchpoker in 2014.

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