- »From South Africa to Las Vegas; Watch Out For These Stars
From South Africa to Las Vegas; Watch Out For These Stars
South Africa has a population of 60 million so was bound to produce some impressive poker players. Africa’s southernmost country is famous for its cricket and rugby prowess, but also has dozens of poker players considered elite.
The five biggest live poker tournament winners hailing from South Africa have combined winnings of $8,052,683. Most ply their trade in their native country but the best regularly venture to Las Vegas for the annual World Series of Poker (WSOP).
Raymond Rahme the South African Veteran
Raymond Rahme hails from Johannesburg, South Africa, and is the country’s biggest live MTT winner. Rahme has $3,546,346 in earnings, with the bulk stemming from WSOP tournaments.
Rahme was an unknown quantity outside of South Africa until 2007. This is when he entered the $10,000 buy-in WSOP Main Event. Some 6,358 players bought in that year and Rahme outlasted all but two of them. His third-place finish came with a $3,048,025 payday.
The South African national is a successful business that rarely plays major live poker events these days. Indeed, April 2016 is the last time The Hendon Mob database has Rahme as cashing in a live tournament.
Jarred Solomon Shines Brightly in South Africa
Jarred Solomon occupies second place in the South Africa all-time money list courtesy of his $1,620,893 earnings. Soloman has racked up almost 80 cashes in his home country and around the world.
The year 2010 saw Solomon head to Las Vegas for the WSOP. It proved a profitable trip with two final table appearances. Solomon finished fifth in a $2,500 No-Limit Hold’em 6-Max event and sixth in a $2,500 Mixed Hold’em event for combined prizes worth $157,465.
He came even closer to winning a bracelet the following year. Solomon finished second in the $10,000 Pot-Limit Hold’em Championship for $345,460. This is still his largest cash to date.
Darren Kramer the $1 Million Dollar Man
Darren Kramer is one of three players from South Africa with more than $1 million in live winnings. His best results stem from South African events, where he has an almost unnatural ability to fins in the top three of the biggest tournaments.
Kramer won the 2008 PokerNews Cup in Johannesburg and won a then career-best $140,575. It remained his largest haul until a trip to Germany in 2011 for the EPT Berlin Main Event. Kramer crashed out in sixth for a €140,000 ($199,249). Only Armin Mette, Martin Jacobson, Vadzim Kursevich, the late Max Heinzelmann, and champion Ben Wilinofsky outlasted the South African.
Eugune Du-Plessis Narrowly Missed Out on WPT Glory
Eugene Du-Plessis hails from Stellenbosch, South Africa, and is fourth in the country’s all-time money list. Du-Plessis has $880,917 in winnings, and is still awaiting his first six-figure haul. He came close in the 2013 World Poker Tour South Africa Main Event, but ultimately fell in second place for $92,708. his fellow countryman Daniel Brits won that day for $132,128.
Du-Plessis has an impressive nine victories on home soil. Do not bet against him making it ten now that live poker is reopening globally.
Greg Ronaldson a Former Aussie Millions Champion
Fifth-place in the South Africa money list is Greg Ronaldson of Johannesburg. Ronaldson has $877,512 in earnings with his best cash tipping the scales at $172,933. Ronaldson got his hands on this sum after winning the 2007 All Africa Poker Tournament.
He is a former Aussie Millions champion, too. Ronaldson took down the A$5,300 No-Limit Hold’em Heads-Up event in January 2012. He found himself heads-up against Canadian superstar Sorel Mizzi, and made short work of him. Ronaldson banked A$80,000 ($82,358) for that victory.
His last live cash same in September 2019, like many of his countrymen. This is because of the various COVID-19 related restrictions in place in Africa and worldwide.