Ranking the best Canadian professional poker players
Canada has produced talented poker players for decades. They range from superstars like Daniel Negreanu, though WSOP winners like Jonathan Duhamel and online crushers too. Female players are well represented, with Kristen Bicknell and Evelyn Ng both well known in the poker community.
The next Canadian poker superstars could already be perfecting their skills in live poker rooms around the country.
You’ll find ten of the very best poker players from Canada listed below. Starting with the most famous player of all, Daniel Negreanu.
These days, Daniel ‘Kid Poker’ Negreanu lives in Las Vegas, though he was born in Toronto in 1974. He is the best-known Canadian poker player worldwide, with a career that goes back to the 1990’s. Negreanu has accumulated more than $42,000,000 (US) in tournament winnings. He is also an accomplished cash game player at the highest stakes.
Negreanu has won six World Series of Poker gold bracelets so far. They include wins at WSOP events in Asia and Europe, plus four from the Las Vegas event. Other notable wins include two World Poker Tour titles and cashes in online high-roller events.
In addition to playing poker and media appearances, Daniel Negreanu is behind multiple business ventures. They have included an online poker site, books, sponsorship deals, and appearances in movies. Negreanu was inducted into the Poker Hall of Fame in 2014.
Few people had heard of Montreal-resident, Jonathan Duhamel, until 2010. That would all change when he defeated John Racener to win the World Series of Poker main event. The top prize was a staggering $8,944,310.
He would quickly prove this was not a one-off. In 2011 he followed up with a win of a high-roller event on the European Poker Tour and cashed twice in the WSOP. After a series of high-profile wins in the years between, Duhamel won another WSOP bracelet in 2015. This victory was in the ‘High Roller for the One Drop’ event. He won almost $4 million. A third bracelet would follow the same year on the WSOPE High-Roller NL Hold’em event.
Duhamel has given back to his home city. He donated $100,000 of the winnings from the WSOP Main Event to the Montreal Canadiens Children’s Foundation.
If you are old enough to remember High Stakes Poker and Poker After Dark on TV, the battles between Guy Laliberté and legends like Phil Hellmuth and Tom Dwan will be familiar. This player made his fortune before moving into the poker world. Laliberté created Cirque du Soleil, which created innovative shows seen by millions around the world.
His poker skills are on par with his business skills, with more than $2.5 million in tournament winnings to his name, plus regular appearances in high stakes live cash games. Notable victories include a WPT title. Laliberté also founded the ‘Big One for the Drop’ tournaments that take place at the World Series of Poker. They raise money for clean water charities around the world.
Often associated with former partner Daniel Negreanu, Evelyn Ng has proven herself to be an excellent poker player. This Toronto native began her career playing pool for money, before switching to poker after dating ‘Kid Poker’.
Accomplishments include second place in the WPT Ladies event in 2003. Ng has a long record of online poker wins. She has been an ambassador for poker sites including Bodog and PokerStars. Evelyn has also appeared in the poker video game world as a character, and in the movie ‘Criss Angel Mindfreak’.
Sam Greenwood is the most successful of three poker-playing brothers from Toronto. While not having the media profile of others on this list, Greenwood has accumulated more than $22 million in live poker tournaments. This is enough to put him in third place on the money list, with only Negreanu and Duhamel above him.
Greenwood has a single WSOP bracelet. This came in the $1k No-Limit Hold’em event in 2015. Additional wins in the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure Super High Roller and British Poker Open have added many millions to his career winnings. This player also crushes online poker, with more than $6 million in wins across major sites.
The late Gavin Smith was a fixture on TV during the first poker boom years. He appeared on shows including Poker After Dark and the Poker Dome Challenge. He also co-hosted an early poker radio show known called ‘The Circuit’.
With more than $6 million in tournament winnings, in addition to cash game successes, Smith has a long list of wins. They include a WSOP bracelet, from the 2010 event in the Mixed Hold’em event. He also won the WPT event at the Mirage, Las Vegas in 2005 — following this with several WPT final tables.
Smith set up his own poker club in Kitchener, Ontario in 1998. He passed away of natural causes in 2019. A memorial tournament was held in his memory at the Rio Casino as part of the 2019 World Series of Poker.
Kristen Bicknell’s win in the 2013 Ladies NL Hold’em Championship at the World Series did not come as a surprise to anyone familiar with her online career. She made ‘SuperNova Elite’ for three consecutive years, grinding millions of cash game hands on PokerStars. That WSOP win was the first of three gold bracelets. The others came in 2016 (Bounty NL Hold’em) and 2020 (Six-Handed NL Hold’em).
Outside of the WSOP, Bicknell has won WTP events and tournaments in Asia. This Ontario-born poker pro was the highest-rated female tournament player in 2017, and has amassed a total of over $4.7 million in live cashes.
Mike Watson is a native of Newfoundland and Labrador. He has amassed more than $12 million in live tournament cashes, putting him in eighth place on the Canadian all-time money winners list. These live cashes are in addition to a long list of online successes.
Now a Toronto resident, Watson just missed out on a World Series of Poker gold bracelet. In 2014 he finished as runner-up in the $1500 Mixed Max NL Hold’em event. His first major success came in 2008 with a World Poker Tour title. He won the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure main event in 2016 for more than $700k.
This Alberta-native is significantly younger than the others listed on this page. Jamie Staples was born in 1991, and is part of a new generation of poker pros who embrace new technology. He is best known for streaming small stakes games on Twitch. Staples plays tournaments and cash games, and sells stakes in his action, allowing viewers of his stream to get involved.
While Staples is yet to score in live events, he has enjoyed sponsorship deals with major online poker sites and continues to grow an audience.
With streaming and YouTube becoming popular ways to access poker content, this Canadian poker pro is sure to inspire a new generation of poker players.
The final entry on our top ten Canadian poker players list is another Toronto resident. Sorel Mizzi has accumulated more than $12.7 million in live tournament cashes over his career. He also crushes online games, playing at the highest stakes in both cash game and tournament formats. He is currently seventh on the all-time money list in Canada.
Notable scores in the live tournaments include multiple final tables in WSOP and WPT events. They include a second place in the $5k PLO event at the 2008 World Series of Poker. He would cash three times before winning his first WPT event – the $3k at the 2008 5 Diamond Poker Classic.
This player has been involved in a scandal — in 2007 he was accused of remotely taking over from a friend in an online poker tournament. The win was voided, with the prize money awarded to the second-place finisher.