5 High Stakes Poker Pros Who Started With Small Bankrolls

These are five high stakes poker players who built their careers from a small starting bankroll

Players who play high stakes poker need huge bankrolls to keep them in the game. An online poker tournament player who frequents the $215 buy-in games should have close to $50,000 available. If not much more.

Some players are fortunate to have enough free cash to start their careers with a sizeable bankroll. They make a large deposit, play a little over their head and end up in high stakes poker games quickly. Others are either not in that financial position or choose to grind their way to the top of the game. These five poker stars chose the second route.

High Stakes Poker Tournament Legend Chris Moorman

Chris Moorman, known as “Moorman1” in online poker circles, is the high stakes poker tournament player thousands want to emulate. Moorman is the second-biggest winner in online poker tournament history with more than $16.1 million in winnings.

The Essex-born star also has more than $5.8 million in live poker tournament winnings, a World Series of Poker (WSOP) bracelet and a World Poker Tour (WPT) title to his name. While Moorman is a regular in the high stakes poker tournament world, he started from humble beginnings.

Moorman discovered poker while studying for an economics degree at university. He played pool regularly and saw an advertisement for a free poker tournament. After printing off the rules and hand rankings, Moorman and a few friends entered the freeroll. Moorman eventually finished second for $250 and it was from here that Moorman rose to superstardom.

Sami Kelopuro

Sami Kelpuro discovered the game of poker back in 2005 when his friend invited him to play some home games. Little did they know that 14-years later their friend would be the world’s number one ranked online poker tournament player.

Kelopuro took to poker immediately and started playing low stakes for approximately six-months. A four-figure score in a tournament allowed Kelopuro to try his look in higher stakes games. He never looked back. The Finnish grinder started at $1/$2 and quickly progressed to the high stakes poker world, playing for huge pots.

He is rumored to have won millions on smaller European online poker sites in the late 2000s. Plus he won $1.3 million in a single Pot Limit Omaha session at partypoker in August 2019.

Charlie Carrel

British star Charlie Carrel built his poker career with a single $15 deposit. Carrel made the deposit at PokerStars and won a $1 buy-in 180-man at his first attempt. That yielded $49 profit and Carrel admitted he would have quit poker for good had he dusted off that initial $15 deposit.

Carrel continued playing sit & go tournaments, progressing to $3.50 and $7 buy-ins before switching o cash games. $25NL Zoom was Carrel’s game of choice before he swapped to partypoker and ran his bankroll to a peak of $520,000.

He now has more than $9.5 million in live poker tournament, enough for third in the English all-time money listings. Three seven-figure prizes helped Carrel soar up the leaderboard. The largest weighing in at $1,601,853 at the recent Triton Super High Roller Series London festival.

Tom Dwan

Tom Dwan, better known simply as “durrrr”, is an online poker legend thanks to his cash game prowess. You immediately think of Dwan when you think of high stakes poker. Dwan started with a $50 deposit and quickly progressed to the highest stakes possible, which were $1,000/$2,000 and $2,000/$4,000 at one stage.

Dwan’s loose-aggressive style earned him a large fanbase, but also huge swings in his bankroll. Seven-figure wins and losses are common for Dwan. He holds the record for the biggest and second-biggest televised cash game pots. The first weighed in at $919,000 with the other worth more than $1.1 million.

Having unofficially quite playing online, Dwan now plays ultra high stakes poker in Macau and Manila.

Annette Obrestad

Norway’s Annette Obrestad started playing poker illegally when 15-years-old, leading to her “Annette_15” alias. Obrestad claims to have never made a single deposit online on her way to a high stakes poker career. The Norwegian famously won a 180-man tournament despite only looking at her hole cards once.

Obrestad was a massive force in the late 2000s and won the 2007 WSOP Europe Main Event for £1 million. She triumphed in the Main Event a day before her 19th birthday, thus becoming the youngest-ever WSOP bracelet winner. Although she no longer plays any form of poker (she has a makeup YouTube channel) Obrestad remains a legendary figure in online poker history.

Follow in These High Stakes Poker Players Footsteps

Become one of poker’s rags to riches stories by signing up to one of the best US online poker sites. Sites such as Ignition, Bovada, and BetOnline have a variety of cash games and tournaments for all bankrolls. Plus, each has welcome bonuses ranging from $500 to a cool $2,000.

Matthew Pitt

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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