It’s almost November, the year is coming to a close, and it’s an excellent time to look back at which players have had the most significant impact on the poker landscape in 2023. This year’s WSOP was the 54th edition, a clean sweep, and the biggest in history in terms of turnout and prizes. The main event pot was set to the tune of $12.1 million, with 35-year-old Atlanta-born Daniel Weinman winning the day. The event, as always, shone the spotlight on some of the USA’s finest players and rising talents.
Let’s dive in and look at which poker personalities pulled big moves during this year’s event. But first, a quick reminder: if you’re a US player, you can only legally play online poker for real money in Nevada, New Jersey, Delaware, Michigan, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Connecticut.
Moreover, players in NJ, NV, MI, and DE can play for pooled prize pots as these states are party to the Multi-State Internet Gaming Agreement. If you’re located outside these states, real money poker games are restricted, but you can play for virtual stakes at an online sweepstakes casino.
First place on our list has to go to this year’s WSOP Main Event winner, Daniel Weinman. Weinman became the first American to win the top spot since 2018, when John Cynn took the title. He won an incredible, record-breaking $12.1m at the Las Vegas Horseshoe Main Event, beating over 10,043 others and playing 164 hands at the final table.
Weinman worked as an engineer before launching into a professional poker career and making it to his first WSOP final table in 2012. Since then, he’s been a consistent feature, winning his first WSOP bracelet in 2022. This year, he entered the final table in third chip position with 81,700,00, beating Steven Jones on the 164th hand and 24th heads-up with a King of Clubs and Jack of Diamonds when both hit a pair of jacks on the flop.
Weinman places 63rd on the All Time Money List; his total live earnings as of October 2023 are just under $16m.
Matakis has been playing live tournaments since 2018, and he won this year’s WSOP’s Player of the Year award. Very much a rising star, Matakis played consistently. During his 2023 run, he grossed $881,682 in earnings (his largest score was $205,696, with an average score of $40K) and 5,203 player of the year points, almost a thousand points ahead of Shaun Deeb in second place – a remarkable lead. He cashed 22 events, placing in the top nine for six and winning his first gold bracelet in the WSOP Online $500 no-limit hold ’em Bankroll Builder event.
Matakis, now 25, learned poker from his sister and honed his skills playing while at the University of Minnesota. Like many poker pros, he dropped out of university and has been playing professionally for the last five years. During his 2022 online WSOP run, he cashed 13 times.
Matakis places 1,524th on the All Time Money List this month with total live earnings of more than $1.6m.
Christoper Brewer has earned a top spot on our USA player list based on his 2023 WSOP run, which landed him third on the Player of the Year rankings. Brewer hit not one but two records, winning his sixth bracelet (one of only 19 players to achieve this) and becoming the only player to win the Poker Players Championship three times.
Brewer is a familiar face, especially at the WSOP circuit, as he’s been competing since 2015. He first fell in love with poker at the 2012 Olympic Trials and steadily built his bankroll while studying Business Administration at the University of Oregon.
Brewer has played against some of the best in the world and is known as a high-stakes player. His total live earnings as of 2023 are $18m+, and he is currently 49th on the All Time Money List.
The last two names of our top 5 Poker personalities haven’t landed here based on their 2023 performance alone but rather their lifetime achievements. Celebrating a long-term champion, WSOP welcomed Brain Rast into the Hall of Fame this year.
Rast has been playing poker since 1998 and holds six WSOP bracelets, even winning one over the next name on our list, the legendary Phil Hellmuth. He also beat Jason Bonomo (number two on the All Time Money List) to a bracelet in 2016.
During the award, WSOP Vice President Jack Effel succinctly summed up Rast’s phenomenal poker career, stating, “With a nearly 20-year-long career riddled with record-breaking wins and historic runs, Brian Rast is one of the best poker players we’ve ever seen.” In October 2023, Rast’s total live earnings were $25m+, and he placed 29th on the All Time Money List.
Last but not least is poker legend Phil Hellmuth. Hellmuth had a more challenging run at this year’s WSOP, but despite a frustrating start, he won his 17th bracelet in the $10,000 Super Turbo Bounty No-Limit Hold’em event.
Hellmuth made WSOP history in 1989 when he became the youngest player (then 24) to win the main event, defeating Johnny Chan. He is the only player ever to hold 17 WSOP bracelets and to have won the WSOP main event and WSOPE main event titles. Approximately 90% of Hellmuth winnings originate from WSOP Cashes.
In 2007, Hellmuth was inducted into the WSOP’s Poker Hall of Fame. Now, 16 years later, he’s still making headlines and winning titles, a testament to his mastery and passion for the game. Hellmuth places 21st on the All Time Money List, with total live earnings of $29m+.
Get Involved: Live Poker Tournaments for US Players
Aside from playing online poker or using a sweepstakes casino, according to Casino Cabbie, US players also have the option of traveling to attend live poker events, like WSOP, the Cardplayer Lifestyle Mixed Poker Games Festival, The World Poker Tour and Mid States Poker Tour.