What would poker be without the spine-chilling feeling of possibly losing it all in the blink of an eye?
For all players, this emotional and financial roller-coaster is what makes the game worth playing. But only professional ones can bust thousands of dollars while keeping it totally cool.
If you’re freaking out when you lose a couple hundred bucks at the casino, wait until you find out how much these five professional players lost!
#5 Gavin Griffin
Estimated losses: $5 million
Gavin Griffin marked poker history as the youngest player to win a WSOP tournament, snagging the Pot Limit Hold’Em in 2004. He also won the prestigious Triple Crown, followed by an EPT in 2007 and 2008. In 2012, his total live winnings approached $5 million.
However, Griffin fired out most of this money. Alongside the cost of playing in live tournaments and the high Californian taxes, he developed a gambling addiction that cost him heavily.
He eventually had to step down several levels and go back to the lower stakes tables in order not to go completely broke.
#4 Gus Hansen
Estimated losses: $18 million
Gus ‘The Great Dane’ Hansen has always been famous for his crazy swings: after having won four WPT’s in a year and made six final tables, amassing over $11 million, the Danish player hit rock bottom in 2014.
His losses on Full Tilt surpassed $20 million in September, losing as much as $630,000 in a week alone! He managed to get a little bit ($1.2 million) back, but with total losses of -$18 million, the man set the record of online poker losses.
If a reasonable reaction would be to curl up in fetal position and start crying, the Great Dane kept it cool, declaring : “I still have money in my pocket. My online numbers aren’t looking too pretty, but I can still afford a sandwich.”
Many professional players might have gone broke, but few with quite the same laid-back attitude.
#3 Scotty Nguyen
Estimated losses: $20 millions
Of all the poker pros who went broke, Scotty Nguyen embodies the genuine old school poker legend: weird gambling superstitions, memorable punchlines, amazing bluffing skills and terrible drinking habit.
When he emigrated from Vietnam in the eighties, Scotty started earning a living by bussing tables at a restaurant. Tired of being treated poorly by his employer, he eventually decided to quit, with a $270 pay check in his backpack. He took his money to Lake Tahoe where he started playing poker and turned it into a six figures bankroll within a week.
Until the end of the nineties, Scotty reached the poker heights, winning over $11 million in career tournament earnings. Unfortunately, his multiple addiction problems started to take over and he soon hit a losing streak that left him broke.
#2 Erick Lindgren
Estimated losses: $25 millions
Former member of Team Full Tilt and two-time WSOP and WPT winner, Erick “E-dog” Lindgren counts among the poker players who made the most money of all time: as of 2016, he ranks 38th in the All Time Money List of poker with over $10 million in tournament earnings.
Unlike other poker legends often known for their excesses, Lindgren impersonated, with his friendly demeanor and pleasant table manners, the average Joe who was living the poker dream.
Sadly, Lindgren developed a severe gambling addiction which lead him to file bankruptcy several times and become. He is deeply indebted to Pokerstars (-$2.5 million), the IRS (-$3.8 million), Andy Bloch (-$1.1 million) and many other players (-$5 million).
In 2013, Erick Lindgren entered a rehab program for gambling addicts in California.
#1 Stu Ungar
Estimated losses: $30 millions
Stu Ungar is widely regarded as the best poker player of all times. Thanks to his uncredible I.Q. and photographic memory, “The Kid” managed to win the WSOP Maint Event three times in 1980, 1981 and 1997.
However, because of poor money-management skills and a devastating addiction to cocaine, he fired out all of his earnings.
Despite having won about $30 million during his poker career, The Kid died with no assets to his name, making him the ultimate king of all the professional players who went broke!