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Five of the Best Poker Players From Illinois
Illinois, sometimes known as the Land of Lincoln or Prairie State, is the home to some excellent poker players. It is the sixth-largest U.S. state and has 19 casinos across 18 cities.
There are some superb poker tournament players who call Illinois home. The top five biggest winners have won a combined $31,525,619 in live events. They’ve managed to secure several more millions from the online poker world, too.
The state is in the process of legalizing online poker and gambling. There are still some weird rules, as is evident by the recent silver bullion saga. These players from Illinois have excelled despite this. How many do you recognize?
Connor Drinan: The Biggest Winner in Illinois
Connor Drinan is the biggest poker tournament winner from Illinois and by some margin. He was born in Arlington Heights but now calls Chicago home, although he spends a lot of time away, so he can continue crushing the online poker world.
Drinan won the $10,000 WSOP Super MILLION$ event at GGPoker for $1,423,049. That isn’t his largest score despite it being enormous. That honor goes to the $3,225,000 he won for finishing third in the 2015 Super High Roller Bowl!
He’d like to forget it, but Drinan was once involved in an awful hand. It took place in the 2014 Big One For One Drop, a $1 million buy-in event. Drinan and Cary Katz got their chips into the middle, each holding a pair of aces. Katz held the ace of hearts and won the hand when four hearts landed on the board! Ouch!
That didn’t do Drinan too much harm because he’s racked up $11,256,945 live and millions more virtually.
Mohsin Charania: The Triple Crown Winner From Illinois
Mohsin Charania is one of two Illinois residents who have won poker’s Triple Crown. A Triple Crown is awarded to anyone who wins an EPT and WPT Main Event and WSOP bracelet.
Charania won the 2012 EPT Grand Final for a career best €1,350,000 ($1,782,343) in April 212. He won the WPT Grand Prix de Paris 18-months later for €328,750 ($449,856). The Triple Crown was Mohsin’s in June 2017 when he took down a $1,500 No-Limit Hold’em event in Las Vegas for $364,438.
Amazingly, victory in the WPT Five Diamond World Poker Classic ($1,177,890) in December 2014 is sandwiched between those results.
Mohsin’s live tournament winnings stand at an impressive $6,234,853.
Gavin Griffin: The Original Triple Crown Champion Hailing From Illinois
Illinois has a second Triple Crown winner, although Gavin Griffin is the original. Griffin was a relatively unknown quantity when he won a $3,000 Pot-Limit Hold’em event ($270,240) in May 2004. He secured the EPT Grand Final title in March 2007 for a career-high €1,825,010 ($2,434,060).
PokerStars sponsored Griffin by now so their logo was all over his WPT Borgata Winter open triumph in January 2008. That result banked Griffin $1,401,109.
Griffin doesn’t play as much poker as he once did yet still has $5,095,951 in earnings.
Ryan Tosoc: A World Poker Tour Specialist
Nobody except friends and family really knew who Illinois resident Ryan Tosoc was until 2016. Tosoc went on a massive heater that saw him dominate the WPT and win a WSOP bracelet.
Tosoc finished second in the WPT Five Diamond World Poker Classic in 2016 for $1,124,051. Only James Romero outlasted him that time. He won the same tournament the very next year for a $1,958,065 defeating Alex Foxen heads-up. He netted a bracelet in the $1,000 No-Limit Hold’em Online Championship in 2018.
Tosoc has cashes dating back to May 2012 yet $4,640,097 of his $4,795,258 winnings stem from the past four years only.
Aaron Massey: Representing Chicago
Aaron Massey lives in Chicago, Illinois but was born in Elmwood Park. Massey and his brother Ralph had it tough as kids but have shone as poker players. Massey isn’t one to mince his words or shy away from confrontation. He approaches poker in the same manner.
$4,143,852 in live tournament winnings speak for themselves. Fourteen victories show Massey has some serious skills. The biggest of those wins came in 2012 in a $2,100 buy-in event. It saw Massey add $651,559 to his bankroll.