Top 5 Poker Players From The State Of New Jersey

The Garden State, one of the few states with legal online poker, is rich in poker history. New Jersey has produced some of the game's best.

New Jersey is a state rich in poker history, having produced some of the game’s all-time greats.

Atlantic City, the gambling mecca of the East Coast, has been a casino town since the 1970s, giving many in the region a chance to cut their teeth on the green felt and become poker household names. New York City, long home to underground poker, has also been a beacon of poker talent throughout the years and decades. The Las Vegas-Los Angeles region might be the only poker hotbed that surpasses the NJ region.

The Garden State is one of just four in the country with regulated online poker (Nevada, Pennsylvania, and Delaware are the others), giving the game a chance to make a serious comeback after the poker boom ended in the early 2010s. The COVID-19 crisis that has kept many people at home has sparked a resurgence in online poker, as evident by the robust schedule of prestigious online events this spring.

It’s fitting that New Jersey has spearheaded a comeback for online poker, as poker history wouldn’t be the same without some of the top talent that has emerged from the state.

Below is a brief look at some of the top grinders who have called New Jersey home. If you’re someone just beginning to explore and learn the beautiful game called poker, the following names can serve as inspiration for their accolades in one of America’s oldest pastimes.

No. 5: Chris Klodnicki

Klodnicki, who hails from Voorhees, has won more than $10 million lifetime in live poker tournaments, which puts him at no. 3 on the Garden State’s all-time poker money list. Most of that success has come in high buy-in events at the World Series of Poker, the game’s biggest stage. He has won about $6.5 million at the Rio in Las Vegas, including a bracelet in 2017. He has an incredible 14 WSOP final tables. He’s also made three World Poker Tour final tables in his career.

No. 4: Tom Dwan

The Edison native isn’t known for his success in tournaments, as he only has about $3 million in lifetime earnings. He has never won a WSOP bracelet, though he was ever so close with a runner-up finish in 2010 when he had millions on the line in side bets. Dwan is known as a star of the TV poker cash game era, where he won millions on various shows, most notably in the now defunct High Stakes Poker on GSN. He is considered one of the most brilliant and aggressive cash game players in history. He also was one of the mainstays in the nosebleed cash game scene on Full Tilt Poker during the height of the poker boom.

No. 3: Darren Elias

Though born in Boston and now calling Philadelphia home, Elias spent considerable time living in the Garden State and is one of its most successful card players. He doesn’t have a WSOP bracelet, but he has a remarkable four World Poker Tour titles — a record — along with more than $7.7 million in lifetime tournament earnings. He’s also one of the game’s all-time best online tourney players, having won at least $1.5 million on the virtual felt. He shows no signs of slowing down, either.

No. 2: Thomas Marchese

With nearly $20 million in lifetime tournament earnings over the past decade, the Parsippany native is one of the all-time greats in that format of poker. He hasn’t yet won a coveted WSOP bracelet, but he’s basically won everything else, having scored seven tournament cashes worth at least $1 million over his storied career. Marchese hasn’t won a massive eight-figure poker prize like many inside the top 10 on the earnings list, but instead has put together one of the most remarkably consistent tournament careers in history.

No. 1: Phil Ivey

Arguably no player in the history of the game is as legendary as Phil Ivey. With 10 WSOP bracelets to his name (tied for second all-time), along with more than $30 million in lifetime tournament earnings, he’s undoubtedly one of the most talented players to ever sit down at a poker table. While his stock has fallen in recent years due to legal troubles with the Borgata over more than $10 million in controversial baccarat winnings from 2012 and by the fact that he hasn’t won a bracelet since 2014, Ivey is still a familiar face in high-stakes poker tournaments. He’s also one of the most successful cash game players in history, though those winnings aren’t tracked. During the poker boom, he was also the top online cash game player, a remarkable feat of being arguably the most feared player in person and over the internet.

Honorable mentions: Steve Gross, Matt Stout, Mickey Appleman, Josh Beckley


Related Posts