Top Poker Players of 2005 - Part 1
Dec 21, 2005  
2005 Jason Kirk  

The biggest year in the history of poker is on its way to the history books. Record prize pools were up for grabs in 2005, and more tournaments were being held every month than ever before. Here's a look at some of the players who made an impact on the poker world this year.

Joe Hachem

With total winnings of over $7.6 million in 2005, reigning World Series of Poker champion Joe Hachem is definitely the biggest fish in the 2005 sea. The Australian's life changed overnight after the WSOP, so he took some time to enjoy his record-breaking victory before signing an endorsement deal with online site PokerStars. Since that time he's been on the road playing in various high buy-in tournaments and has made plans to move to California. Hachem proved his WSOP Main Event win was no fluke when he made the final table of the Paris/Bally's Las Vegas WSOP Circuit Main Event - he took 5th place after a bad beat crippled him. Hachem's deal with PokerStars means you'll be seeing plenty of the champ between now and the next WSOP.

Steve Dannenman

This year's WSOP Main Event runner-up hasn't made the money in a high buy-in tournament since he outlasted more than 5,600 players this summer to take home $4.25 million. He did, however, finish 5th at the WSOP Tournament of Champions against a field of some of the world's best players. That finish was good for $100,000. More importantly it demonstrated that Dannenman can play with the best of them - and that nice guys don't always finish last.

Tuan Le

Tuan Le first made a name for himself when he won the Main Event of the World Poker Finals last year at Foxwoods. He repeated that success this spring when he took down the WPT Championship $25,000 buy-in event at the Bellagio in Las Vegas, netting him a solid $2.85 million. The rest of the year didn't see much from Le outside of a few smaller-buy-in LA tournaments, leaving one to wonder if he's taken up a new hobby - managing all the new investments he made post-Bellagio.

Phil Ivey

Already one of the most famous names in poker, Phil Ivey continued throughout this year to enjoy the kind of career most players could only dream about. 2005 saw Ivey make 8 major cashes of at least $60,000, including 2 final tables at WSOP Circuit events. Then came the WSOP itself, where Ivey picked up his 5th bracelet with a win in the $5,000 Pot Limit Omaha event. He appeared to be on his way to the final table at the WSOP Main Event before he became one of Aaron Kanter's many victims and finished 20th. The year ended well for Ivey, who took home the title (and a million dollars) from the Monte Carlo Millions. With winnings of over $2.7 million in 2005, Ivey continued to cement his reputation as one of the greatest players in all of poker.

Michael "The Grinder" Mizrachi

The Grinder has been a fixture on the tournament circuit throughout 2005, and it's easy to see why when you look at his results. Mizrachi cashed in 20 events with a buy-in of least $2,000 this year, a record unmatched by many players with great reputations. Seven of those cashes were at the WSOP, putting him at the top of this year's list in that category. But his greatest success came early in 2005 before the WSOP. In January, he took 5th at the Jack Binion World Poker Open Main Event. In February, he won the title at the LA Poker Classic. Finally, May saw him take down the Mirage $1,500 Heads-Up no-limit hold'em event. Between these three events alone Mizrachi won nearly $2.4 million. Chances are you'll be seeing a lot of The Grinder in 2006 as well.

Mike "The Mouth" Matusow

One thing you can never say about the Mouth is that he's boring. His climb through the ranks of the WSOP Main Event, only to come out on the losing end of what may have been the single most dramatic hand of poker ever broadcast, netted him $1 million and marked a triumphant return to poker after spending a good portion of the previous year in jail. Then he turned around in November and won the WSOP Tournament of Champions for another $1 million payday, outlasting some of the biggest names in poker - and showing the world that he's one of the best players around today.

Top Poker Players of 2005 - Part 2


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