Check Out These Kentucky Poker Grinders

The are the five biggest live MTT players who call Kentucky home

Kentucky, or the Commonwealth of Kentucky to give the state its full title, is part of the Upland South region of the United States. The “Bluegrass State” is famous for Kentucky Fried Chicken, horse racing, bourbon, and moonshine. It is the home to more than its fair share of talented poker players too.

There are no live poker rooms in Kentucky, meaning its citizens have to travel to play this crazy game. The following five players not only travel frequently but return with their suitcases stuffed with cash.

Kurt Jewell is the Biggest Winner in Kentucky

Kurt Jewell is the Biggest Winner in Kentucky

Kurt Jewell of Frankfort, Kentucky, is the state’s biggest poker winner. Jewell’s winnings total is just shy of $1.6 million with $1,593,669 in earnings.

Jewell’s first recorded live cash was an outright victory in February 2007. He won a $550 Midwest Regional Poker Championships and walked away with $23,885. A handful of five-figure prizes followed before Jewell secured a six-figure haul. Jewell bested an 872-strong field in the $1,600 WSOPC Hammond Main Event and won $242,909 plus a WSOPC ring.

The prize is still the largest of Jewell’s career despite him winning a further four WSOPC rings. Jewell has two other six-figure prizes on his resume. They weigh in at $192,984 and $158,250.

William “Billy” Kopp Occupies Second-Place in the Kentucky Listings


William “Billy” Kopp of Erlanger, Kentucky, has $1,255,294 in winnings, the majority stemming from two excellent results. Kopp finished second in a $5,150 WSOPC New Orleans Championship event and banked $127,832. Kopp topped that two months later when he put together a deep run in the 2009 WSOP Main Event.

The $10,000 Main Event was down to only 12 players when disaster struck for Kopp. Kopp raised to 600,000 with 5d-3d, and Darvin Moon called with Qd-Jd. Moon check-called a 750,000 bet on the Kd-9d-2d flop. The 2h turn saw Moon check, Kopp bet 2,000,000, and Moon check-raise to 6,000,000. Kopp jammed all-in for 20,000,000, and Moon called. Kopp was drawing dead, rendering the 7c river inconsequential. The Kentucky man banked $896,730 while Moon went on to finish second for $5,182,928.

Dennis Perry The Kentucky Poker Veteran

Dennis Perry The Kentucky Poker Veteran

Dennis Perry is a poker veteran hailing from Williamstown, Kentucky. Perry worked in the structural steel industry for 36 years before retiring. Perry’s lifetime winnings weigh in at $1,104,718, enough for third place in the Kentucky standings.

More than half that sum, $563,402 to be exact, came with his WSCOPC ring victory. Perry won the $5,150 WSOOPC Tunica Championship Event and put himself on the poker map.

His half-million score came in 2007, two years after winning $195,130 at the WSOP. Perry finished fourth in a $3,000 No-Limit Hold’em event that time around. He treated himself but forgot to pay taxes and was left with an $80,000 bill.

Perry won $130,288 from the 2007 WSOP Main Event only a fortnight after his $563,402 score. He did not cash again until 2010, then 2017, and has not been seen since.

Charlie Dawson is a Prolific Grinder

Charlie Dawson is a Prolific Grinder

There is something about Kentucky players and their ability to win WSOPC rings. Charlie Dawson of Owensboro, Kentucky, has three such rings to show for his poker grind.

Dawson is yet to secure a six-figure prize but came close in 2005. He won $90,929 for a second-place finish in a $1,060 buy-in event in Tunica. Fourteen of his 180 cashes are outright victories. That is a most impressive strike rate by anyone’s standards. This leads us to think it is a case of when, not if, Dawson locks up a $100,000+ prize.

Mark “Pegasus” Smith is a Poker Legend


Georgetown, Kentucky is where you find the poker legend that is Mark “Pegasus” Smith. The veteran has more than 110 live poker tournament cashes whose prizes weigh in at $819,674.

Smith is always seen with a smile on his face, but do not let that fool you because Smith is a dangerous opponent. His $306,003 prize for winning the 2006 WSOPC Tunica Main Event is Smith’s largest prize. That result earned Smith a WSOPC ring, of which he now has six. Smith also has 100 WSOP cashes, which is quite an incredible achievement.

Matthew Pitt

If it’s something you can play online for real money, chances are Matthew knows a bit about it. He’s been writing about slots, craps and poker for the better part of the last decade. He’s written for PokerNews, PartyPoker and many other respected online gambling websites during the last nine years.


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