The Biggest Poker Winners From West Virginia

A profile shot with five poker players that include: Jason Koon, Lee Childs, Steven Merrifield, Kenneth Hicks and Iverson Snuffer

The Mountain State of West Virginia has produced some incredible poker players over the years despite having a population of less than 1.8 million. The top five winning West Virginia poker players have $35,923,921 in live tournament winnings. Most of that impressive sum, however, belongs to one man. Who? Keep reading to find out.

Jason Koon is by far the biggest winner in West Virginia

Jason Koon is by far the biggest winner in West Virginia

Jason Koon is not only the biggest poker name in West Virginia but one of the most recognizable players in the world. Born in West, West Virginia, but now residing in Vancouver, Canada, Koon’s incredible $31,514,827 in winnings places him sixth in the world’s all-time money list.

Koon’s first recorded live cash came in July 2008. A 17th place finish in a $1,060 buy-in event in Las Vegas banked him $1,976. His first five-figure prize came three results later when he finished 17th again, this time in a $2,000 No-Limit Hold’em at the 2009 WSOP for $20,400.

Koon cashed for $225,680 in October 2010 when he busted in fourth-place from a $10,300 buy-in tournament. He has since enjoyed 49 scores worth six figures and eight worth at least $1 million! His largest prize weighs in at an almost unbelievable $3,579,836.

Surprisingly, Koon is yet to win a WSOP bracelet. A second-place finish in 2012 is the closest Koon has come to banking some poker jewelry. It is a matter of when not if Koon will win a bracelet.

Lee Childs the WSOP Main Event Finalist from West Virginia

Lee Childs the WSOP Main Event Finalist from West Virginia

Charles Town, West Virginia, is where you find William Lee Childs Jr, although poker fans call him Lee Childs. Childs burst onto the poker scene back in 2007 when he entered the $10,000 WSOP Main Event. The field was huge that year with 6,358 entrants, but Childs battled hard. He eventually reached the final table, although his run ended in seventh-place, a finish worth $705,229.

Childs enjoyed several more five-figure scores but has struggled to reproduce his WSOP Main Event form. Still, Childs has $1,527,849 in live tournament cashes, although he has not cashed since July 2019.

Steven Merrifield the serial WSOP finalist

Steven Merrifield the serial WSOP finalist

Steven Merrifield of Fairmont, West Virginia, has $1,367,851 in live MTT cashes, although his total could and perhaps should be much more significant. Merrifield has never won a major live poker tournament but has come agonizingly close on several occasions.

A runner-up finish in the $2,500 No-Limit Hold’em event at the 2008 WSOP secured a $428,949 payout. He finished third in a $5,000 Pot-Limit Omaha event three years later for $239,100. Another WSOP final table in 2011, in a $1,500 No-Limit Hold’em tournament, yielded a $102,600 score.

Merrifield appears to have quit playing live poker because his last cash came in August 2017.

Kenneth Hicks the online poker grinder

Kenneth Hicks the online poker grinder

West Virginia native Kenneth Hicks became a household name in poker circles thanks to his online poker prowess. Hicks’ alias, “LoneHixx,” became synonymous with going deep in major tournaments. Hicks has a PokerStars Sunday Million victory among his many accomplishments.

Hicks has $821,918 in live tournament winnings, with almost a quarter coming from his biggest score. He finished seventh in the €10,600 EPT Grand Final Main Event in April 2014 for €188,500 ($260,787). That is Hicks’ only live six-figure haul; perhaps he will get another at the 2021 WSOP?

Iverson Snuffer poker’s version of Heisenburg

Iverson Snuffer poker's version of Heisenburg

Iverson Snuffer calls Milton, West Virginia, home, and he is instantly recognizable. He bears a striking resemblance to Brian Cranston‘s “Heisenburg” character from Breaking Bad! Snuffer has racked up $694,355 in winnings despite never enjoying a six-figure prize.

$63,882 is snuffer’s largest payout. This was his reward for winning a $400 WPT Borgata Winter Poker Open side event in 2014. He came close to besting that score with a deep run in the 2017 WSOP Main Event, but his 96th place finish came with a $61,929 prize.

Snuffer has a book called When the dealing’s done detailing his time as a pool and card shark.

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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