Top Poker Players of 2005 - Part 2
Dec 21, 2005  
2005 Jason Kirk  

Yesterday we looked at some of the top money winners of the year. Here's a glance at a few more poker players who made a splash in 2005.

Maciek Gracz

One of the young guns of poker, Gracz has been a constant presence on the tournament trail throughout 2005. He had moderate success at the Jack Binion World Poker Open and the LA Poker Classic before he took down the big prize on the Party Poker Million IV cruise in March. That was his biggest win in terms of prize money, but the crown jewel of Gracz's 2005 achievements was winning his first bracelet in the $1,000 No-Limit Hold'em event at the World Series of Poker. Gracz has cashed in five tournaments with buy-ins over $1,000 since winning his bracelet, including 15th place in the recent Five Diamond World Poker Classic at the Bellagio. Count on seeing him continue his recent success in the new year.

Nick Schulman

Schulman took the stealth approach, sneaking up on the poker world to take home over $2.1 million when he captured 1st place at the World Poker Finals at Foxwoods in November. He made a second big-money final table in early December, this time at the WSOP Circuit in Atlantic City. His 4th place finish in that event was small change compared to his WPT win, but it showed he can hold his own in big-money tournaments.

Allen Cunningham

You know you're having a good year when you're on the cover of Card Player magazine. That's where Allen Cunningham found himself earlier in the year, and considering his results on the tournament circuit this year he fully deserved to be there. He made the final 16 players at the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure and in three separate WSOP Circuit tournaments early in the year, but it wasn't until the WSOP rolled around that Cunningham finally started turning heads. He started off by winning a bracelet in the $1,500 No-Limit Hold'em event. Next he moved on to the $5,000 Pot Limit Hold'em and Pot Limit Omaha events, both of which saw him take 4th place. He cashed in the $5,000 Shorthanded No-Limit Hold'em tournament before making one more final table in the $5,000 Omaha Hi-Lo tournament. That success was enough to put him 10th on this year's WSOP money list - and he didn't even cash in the Main Event. Just to close things out on a proper note, Cunningham won separate $3,000 events at the Ultimate Poker Challenge and the Five Diamond World Poker Classic in Las Vegas and finished 4th at the World Poker Finals main event. If his reputation wasn't already made, it certainly is now.

Gavin Smith

Like Allen Cunningham and Maciek Gracz, Canadian Gavin Smith started 2005 off with several moderate successes before making a big score. Unlike the others, he used a little foreshadowing to make the story even better. In mid-May Smith won the $2,000 No-Limit Hold'em event in the middle of the Mirage Poker Showdown in Las Vegas. One week to the day afterward he won the $10,000 main event of the same tournament series, a finish good for $1.1 million. Following a decent WSOP where he cashed in 4 events (including the Main Event), Smith made the final tables of 2 Ultimate Poker Challenge events. He took 3rd place at the Doyle Brunson North American Poker Championship in October and closed the year out with two cashes at the Bellagio's Five Diamond World Poker Classic. Smith is another consistent presence on the tournament circuit who is always a good bet to go deep.

Chris "Jesus" Ferguson

When you've got a WSOP Main Event title under your belt and you help to head up the software company behind one of the internet's fastest-growing card rooms, what more could you possibly want? The answer for Chris Ferguson in 2005 was everything. The man known as "Jesus" started the year off with a bang, making final tables at the WSOP Circuit in Atlantic City as well as the LA Poker Classic. He then won his first WSOP Circuit ring at Rincon in San Diego, took 2nd place at the National Heads-up Poker Championship at the Golden Nugget, and finished 9th in the WPT Championship. Ferguson didn't lose any steam as he rolled into the WSOP, where he cashed in 6 events including the final tables of 2 Pot Limit Omaha events. In September he won the Main Event at the Harrah's Las Vegas WSOP Circuit, becoming the first player ever to win 2 WSOPC $10,000 tournaments. Year after year Ferguson is one of the most consistent player around, and 2005 was certainly not an exception.

Top Poker Players of 2005 - Part 3

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