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The Biggest Upsets In Poker History: From Underdogs To World Champions

Against All Odds: A Look at the Greatest Upsets in Poker History, Where Underdogs Rose to Become Unlikely World Champions

It's a classic story in poker: the underdog rising up to become champion.

From small-stakes players making it big to amateurs walking away with millions, these are some of the most incredible upsets in the game's history.

These wins not only defy expectations and show us how much can be achieved with skill, luck and determination - they also remind us that anything is possible at the felt!

Let's take a look back at some of the biggest shocks from over the years as we explore what makes them so remarkable.


Chris Moneymaker: The Amateur Who Defied The Odds

Chris Moneymaker was the ultimate dark horse of the poker world.

He had no history in any major tournaments and his name never appeared on any lists of ‘best poker players’, 'famous poker players', or even a ‘top 10 poker players’.

Despite this, he managed to defy all odds by taking down one of the most prestigious events ever held – The World Series of Poker Main Event.

His improbable victory sent shockwaves throughout the entire poker community as it challenged preconceived notions about who could become one of the most famous poker players and top-ranked poker players in the world.

Moneymaker became an overnight sensation, with fans around the globe inspired by his story.

Although many thought that he would be relegated back to obscurity following his win, Moneymaker has gone on to prove doubters wrong time and again by maintaining himself at the peak of professional poker for over a decade now.

His incredible journey from underdog to champion is an inspiration for anyone hoping to reach similar heights despite long odds - there’s always hope!

Moving forward, we'll look at another legendary player who experienced great success after overcoming immense adversity: Stu Ungar, otherwise known as the 'Comeback Kid' of the Poker World.


Stu Ungar: Comeback Kid Of The Poker World

Stu Ungar is a name that has been forever etched in the history books of poker.

Widely regarded as one of the top 10 poker players of all time, and even considered by some to be the greatest poker player ever, Stu was a game-changer for the industry.

He made an incredible comeback after falling from grace among his peers when he won two back-to-back World Series of Poker Main Events in 1980 and 1981.

His story is truly remarkable.

It's almost indescribable how this “comeback kid” managed to reclaim his place at the table amongst other world-renowned players.

From being dubbed 'The Kid' during his early years on the tournament circuit to becoming known as “The Comeback Kid” later on, Stu had plenty of achievements throughout his career.

Including making millions with big wins against some of today's top poker players.

His success was so immense that many consider him to still stand out above others as one of the best players ever who played in a Kestell 57" Oak Period Style Octagon Folding Poker Table.

Highlights include:

  • Winning eight WSOP titles and three WPT Championships
  • Becoming the only person to win both WSOP Back-to-Back
  • Making multiple multi-million dollar cashes


  • Inducted into the Hall Of Fame in 2001
  • Considered one of the greatest players that ever lived
  • Inspires future poker generations with a tremendous comeback story

Though Stu never reached superstardom status as some modern-day pros have.

He certainly left behind an impressive legacy within the ranks of professional gambling.

Inspiring countless gamblers around the world with his resilience and courage in facing adversity head-on.

With such great accomplishments under his belt, there’s no doubt Stu will remain a legendary figure for many years to come.

Paving the way for new stars ready to take their own shot at becoming legends themselves.

As we move on to our next protagonist in this series—Mansour Matloubi—it becomes clear just how much impact these figures have had not only on each other but also on those who've followed them since.


Mansour Matloubi: A Cinderella Story

When it comes to the best poker players playing on a BBO Poker Tables Ginza LED Black Round Poker Table, Mansour Matloubi is a Cinderella story.

His journey began in 1990 when he was an unknown non-professional player from Wales participating in the World Series of Poker Main Event.

Despite having limited resources and being up against some of the top-earning poker players like Phil Hellmuth Jr., Johnny Chan, and Erik Seidel, he managed to upset them all to become one of the most successful poker players and win his first WSOP bracelet.

The biggest moment for Mansour came when he faced off against Hans Lund at the final table.

With more than $2 million on the line, Hans had been playing aggressively throughout the tournament while Mansour played very tight.

In what can only be described as a stroke of luck and amazing card play, Mansour drew pocket Aces against Hans’ pocket Kings resulting in him winning nearly $1 million - making him one of the most popular poker players at that time and even today.

By taking down this event, he became part of history and cemented himself as one of the world’s greatest underdogs who rose above all odds to achieve success.

As unexpected as it may have been by many people watching, it goes without saying that Mansour's feat will never be forgotten among poker enthusiasts worldwide.

With such an incredible victory behind him, Joe Cada proved that anything could happen when you sit at a reversible poker table with determination and skill.

At just 21 years old, Joe entered the 2009 World Series of Poker Main Event with aspirations of becoming a champion - something not seen since Stu Ungar won back in 1997.


Joe Cada: World Champion At 21

Joe Cada is one of the biggest upsets in poker history.

He became a world champion at age 21, making him the youngest player ever to win this prestigious title and earning him the nickname “The Kid”.

As an underdog coming into the tournament, he was pitted against some of the best poker players in the world.

But despite his youth and inexperience, Joe managed to outplay them all and become one of the highest earners in professional poker.

His success story has served as inspiration for many aspiring young players looking to make it big in the game.

Joe's victory over more experienced opponents not only made him a household name but also cemented his position as one of the greatest living players today.

Not just content with winning once, Joe continues to push himself further.

Competing among other top poker players around the globe while striving to stay atop his championship status.

With each passing year, he proves that hard work always pays off no matter how daunting or difficult a challenge may seem.

Transitioning smoothly from amateur upstart to veteran prodigy, Joe Cada is most certainly destined for greatness in the years ahead.


Chris Ferguson: The Quiet Giant

Joe Cada may have been the youngest world champion in history, but his success was no fluke.

In fact, he could be seen as an underdog of sorts – a reminder that even those with limited experience can take on the greatest poker players of all time and come out victorious!

But Chris Ferguson is an entirely different beast altogether. Known by some as “The Quiet Giant”, this master strategist has achieved remarkable feats throughout his career – from becoming one of the top female poker players to being considered one of the best online poker players ever.

He is so popular amongst experienced poker players that it would not be wrong to call him one of the most iconic figures in modern-day poker who has won over and over again when playing on a Darafeev Treviso Round Poker Dining Table.

His quiet demeanor allows him to stay focused on winning big pots without any distractions or drama.

It's almost like time slows down for him when he plays.

It goes without saying: Jamie Gold had a lot to live up to if he wanted to join these elite ranks of legendary professional players - and ultimately become known as the biggest cash prize winner in history...


Jamie Gold: The Biggest Cash Prize Winner In History

Jamie Gold was one of the most successful poker players in history.

He defeated a field of 8,772 participants to win the 2006 World Series of Poker Main Event, taking home an astonishing $12 million prize - the largest sum ever awarded at that time.

With this victory, Jamie became the biggest cash prize winner in all of poker.

He has since become known as one of the best celebrity poker players and his signature style has inspired some of today’s top pros.

Over his career, he has accumulated over 3 million dollars in tournament earnings – cementing him as one of the highest-paid poker players in history.

His success has also led to fame beyond just playing card table: he’s featured on magazine covers, appears on TV shows and is constantly mobbed for autographs and photos by fans around the world.

As far as who holds claim to being “the best” there are many contenders such as Doyle Brunson, Phil Ivey, Daniel Negreanu, Mike Sexton and Vanessa Selbst - some of the best female poker players around today.

But when it comes down to it, few can measure up to Jamie Gold's accomplishments and status among true connoisseurs of the game.

It goes without saying that Jamie will continue to be remembered through generations as one of the greatest names in poker history.

Without question, if we could ask any player which title they'd take away from their opponents; 'The Best Poker Player' would surely be amongst them.

Moving forward into another story about someone else equally impressive… Scotty Nguyen: A True Rags-to-Riches Story


Scotty Nguyen: A True Rags-To-Riches Story

Scotty Nguyen is truly a rags-to-riches story, as he rose from relative obscurity to become one of the most recognizable names in poker.

His rise to fame was meteoric; by 1998, right before his win at the World Series of Poker Main Event, he had already made more than $1 million in tournament winnings.

Nguyen's biggest accomplishment came when he became the first person ever to win both a WSOP bracelet and a main event championship in consecutive years.

This feat has not been matched since, making it even more impressive that someone who once lived on the streets could achieve such success playing cards.

Even today, Nguyen remains an inspiration for players around the world—a reminder that talent and hard work can pay off no matter where you come from.

The next chapter in our exploration of poker history looks at another remarkable player: Peter Eastgate—the youngest winner ever of the World Series of Poker Main Event.


Peter Eastgate: A Poker Prodigy

Scotty Nguyen was a true rags-to-riches story.

He went from sleeping in his car to becoming one of the greatest poker players in history.

His remarkable journey is an inspiration for all aspiring professional poker players.

Now, meet Peter Eastgate; another prodigy who has achieved success at the highest levels of poker.

At just 22 years old, he won the 2008 World Series of Poker Main Event and took home over $9 million - making him the youngest-ever winner of this prestigious tournament.

Eastgate had already made a name for himself as a talented online player prior to his WSOP victory.

It wasn't long before he became known as one of the most feared opponents on both the live and virtual felt tables alike.

While many expected him to succeed due to his prodigious skills, few could have predicted how quickly he would be able to ascend to such great heights in the world of professional poker.

Indeed, it seemed like Eastgate's extraordinary rise was destined from day one - proving that sometimes even dreams can come true with enough dedication and hard work.


Frequently Asked Questions

What Strategies Should Be Employed To Become A Successful Poker Player?

Becoming a successful poker player requires more than just luck; it takes having the mental fortitude and strategies to become a world champion.

To achieve success in the game, players must be able to recognize various hand combinations and understand how opponents play their hands.

It's also important for them to know when to bluff or fold, as well as practice proper bankroll management and have an understanding of mathematical odds.

Additionally, honing one’s concentration skills is critical so that they don't get distracted by outside influences during crucial moments at the BBO tables.

Finally, developing good decision-making abilities will help a player stay ahead of the competition and secure victories over time.

What Is The Average Expected Return On Investment In Poker?

A poker player's return on investment (ROI) is an invaluable measure of success in the game.

It requires a shrewd understanding of risk and reward, as well as expert knowledge of mathematics and probability to increase one's chances of achieving a positive ROI.

For many players, the prospect of turning a profit can seem daunting; however, with the right strategy, it's possible to achieve significant returns.

As any masterful poker historian will tell you: mastering this skill is essential for consistently winning at the Ram poker table.

What Are The Legal Considerations When Playing Poker?

Poker has been a popular pastime for centuries, but as its popularity continues to grow, so do the legal considerations that come with it.

It's important to be aware of your local laws and regulations before you sit down at a poker Mikhail Darafeev game table.

Depending on where you live, the game may not even be considered legal - or if it is, certain restrictions must be observed in order to play.

On top of this, there are also potential tax implications from any winnings earned while playing poker.

Understanding these rules is essential for staying safe and compliant when gambling online or at a physical location.

What Is The Best Online Poker Platform?

For the ultimate online poker experience, look no further than PokerStars.

Its expansive platform and wide range of tournaments make it a shoo-in for any serious player looking to take their game up a notch.

Indeed, its intricate interface and advanced features – coupled with unbeatable customer service - have made it the 'ace in the hole' among all other platforms.

From low-stakes games to high rollers, this behemoth has something for everyone!

Are There Any Poker Tournaments Available For Beginners?

Poker tournaments have become a staple of the poker world, and there are now plenty of events available for players looking to get into the game.

For those just starting out in poker, there are several tournament formats that offer an enticing first experience.

Many online sites even provide beginner-friendly tournaments with smaller buy-ins, giving newcomers a chance to hone their skills and learn more about strategies while having fun.

With these low-stakes offerings, it's never been easier for novices to take part in the thrill of competitive poker without risking too much money.



Poker is a game of skill, chance and strategy.

It has produced some remarkable stories over the years; from unexpected victories to world champions rising above all odds.

As any poker historian can tell you, these iconic moments are what makes poker so unique.

When an underdog prevails against impossible odds, it's like watching a phoenix rise from its own ashes - beautiful yet improbable.

The biggest upsets in poker history have shaped our understanding of this ever-changing game.

From Chris Moneymaker’s 2003 World Series Of Poker win that revolutionised the industry to Stu Ungar’s 1997 WSOP Main Event victory which rewrote the record books, these titans of the felt continue to inspire us with their courage and determination.

Whether you're just starting out or already an experienced player, don't forget that anything is possible when playing poker.

With proper preparation and strategic execution even underdogs can become superstars overnight - just ask any one of those legendary players who defied all expectations!

Need Help Choosing the Right Poker Table?

Contact us now and talk to one of our experts to help you find the right products to host the perfect game night