5 Under-Appreciated People in Poker
For every Annie Duke or Jean-Robert Bellande who probably enjoy far more attention in the poker world than they deserve, there's someone else out there who doesn't get enough recognition. Here are five under-appreciated poker players that come to mind. We're not saying they're the five most under-appreciated poker figures, because there's probably some others who are so under-appreciated we didn't even think to mention them in this article!
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Duthie, a British television director, won £1,000,000 in the 2000 Poker Million tournament on the Isle of Man. At the time, it was one of the largest paydays in poker history. Following that, Duthie turned his business energies to poker and created the European Poker Tour (EPT). His background in television helped him negotiate broadcasting deals for EPT final tables which helped put poker on the map in a big way in Europe. Duthie has over $2.2 million in live tournament winnings and is a feared cash game player due to a crazy, unpredictable style of play.
Ask people in the poker world which female has the most all-time tournament winnings. I'd be surprised if more than half would answer Kathy Liebert. In truth, Liebert is far and away #1 with nearly $2 million more in lifetime winnings than Annie Duke, who would probably be the most frequently guessed answer. Liebert is #37 on the all-time money winnings list with $5.5 million according to the Hendon Mob database. Annie Duke has "just" $3.7 million in lifetime winnings.
Kathy Liebert is one of the nicest people you'll encounter in the game of poker. Although she was the first woman ever to win a seven-figure prize in a poker tournament, her demeanor is completely down to earth and you'll rarely see her without a smile on her face.
Most people in the poker world have never heard of Eric Drache, but the list of people who have done more for the game is pretty small. Drache ran the WSOP in the 1970s and was the first to utilize satellite tournaments as a way to get more entries per event. From 1989 to 1993, Drache ran the Mirage poker room which at the time was arguably the mecca of the poker world. In the middle part of this decade, Drache was called in to re-open the Golden Nugget poker room which today competes fiercely with Binion's Horseshoe for top poker room in Downtown Las Vegas. Drache has been one of the leading authorities on poker room operations for over 30 years now. His influence has impacted the way card rooms are ran around the U.S.
An avid Seven-Card Stud player, Drache came out of the woodwork this year to finish 2nd in the $10,000 buy-in World Championship. It was his first cash in a major live poker tournament since 1991!
For most of his career, Mike Sexton has gone above and beyond the call of duty in the poker world. For example, when hundreds of players were shut out of the WSOP Main Event this year on Day 1D, Sexton took up the cause of trying to get Harrah's to let them into the tournament one way or another despite the fact that he himself had already played on Day 1A. His role as the friendly and likable commentator for the WPT has helped introduce countless new people to the game of poker. He's got a strong poker skill-set too; Sexton is still 74th on the all-time money winnings list with $3.8 million. This fantastic ambassador for the game will likely finally get the recognition he deserves this fall by being elected into the Poker Hall of Fame.
Erik Seidel is so under-appreciated in the poker world that he's grown a popular reputation as being under-appreciated. The soft-spoken player has been performing consistently among the top players in the game since he finished 2nd to Johnny Chan in the 1988 WSOP Main Event. Footage of his loss to Chan is briefly featured in the poker movie Rounders. Seidel is a relentless performer who is in 8th place on the all-time winnings list with nearly $10 million despite never having a seven-figure score. He has won 8 WSOP bracelets over the last 18 years and has 57 cashes at the WSOP. Notwithstanding all of these accomplishments, you're hard-pressed to ever find Seidel opening his mouth for the TV cameras. He plays his game, keeps quiet, and banks money like crazy.