Who Are The Biggest Live Poker MTT Winners From Arizona?

These are the five biggest live poker tournament winners hailing from Arizona

We continue our series into the biggest winning live poker tournament players by heading to Arizona. The Grand Canyon State is the sixth largest and 14th most populous of all 50 states.

Arizona is known around the US for its desert climate, its forests, and deep canyons. Yet we know the state for another reason: it’s fantastic poker players.

The five biggest live poker tournament winners from Arizona have $20,238,938 between them. Those same five players are feared and respected in equal measure, but who are they? Continue reading to find out.

David “ODB” Baker Top The Arizona All-Time Money List


David “ODB” Baker tops the Arizona all-time money list with $5,924,009 in earnings. The “ODB” stands for Original David Baker so people can differentiate him from David “Bakes” Baker, another very talented grinder.

This Baker has 191 recorded live cashes dating back to 1993. It’s safe to say he’s withstood the test of time.

Baker has two World Series of Poker (WSOP) bracelets to his name. The first came in 2012 in the $2,500 8-Game . The second came only a couple of months after his largest-ever score in June 2019. Baker won the $1,500 Limit Hold’em event straight after the $10,000 WPT L.A. Poker Classic. That $10,000 event yielded a $1,015,000 top prize.

Ninety-eight cashes and $3,375,820 of Baker’s wins stem from WSOP events.

Jake Balsiger Came Close to Winning the WSOP Main Event For Arizona

Jake Balsiger almost won the 2012 WSOP Main Event for Arizona

Jake Balsiger of Tempe, Arizona, burst onto the live poker scene in 2012. To say he arrived with a bang is an understatement. Balsiger headed to the 2012 WSOP, his first World Series. He cashed in a $1,500 No-Limit Hold’em event and in a $235 Rio Daily Deepstack. Balsiger recorded a third cash that summer and it’s still the biggest of his career.

His impressive run in the 2012 WSOP Main Event ended in a third-place finish. That result banked a young Balsiger $3,799,073, which is the bulk of his $5,042,442 winnings.

Balsiger added three six-figure scores to his name in 2014, 2015, and 2017. The score in 2014 weighed in at $568,644, his reward for a third-place finish in the Aussie Millions Main Event.

He no longer plays poker judging by how he’s not cashed in a live event since October 2018.

Nick Pupillo Now Calls The State Home

Nick Pupillo is one hell of a grinder

Nick Pupillo was born in Addison, Illinois but calls Gilbert, Arizona home. Pupillo has $3,291,891 in live tournament winnings despite his largest cash being for $217,535. He won this much by grinding like crazy and racking up 223 recorded cashes.

Pupillo has 14 victories, including two six-figure hauls from the Heartland Poker Tour. He won in Chicago in 2015 for $120,537 and again in Colorado in 2017 for $194,478. He also secured a WSOPC ring in 2017 at Thunder Valley, which won Pupillo $170,286.

His largest cash of $217,535 came in 2017 when he finished second in a WPT Main Event in Atlantic City.

Mike Wattel The Mixed Game Specialist

ixed game specialist Mike Wattel

Mike Wattel hails from Phoenix, Arizona and is a superb mixed game specialist. Wattel has won $3,161,166 in his career, $2,647,211 coming from the WSOP.

Wattel won the first of his two bracelets back in 1999. He finished first in a $1,500 Omaha Hi/Lo event for $134,865. Bracelet number two came in 2017 in the $10,000 Seven Card Stud Championship. That prize weighed in at $245,451.

Only two of Wattel’s other results are worth more than that last prize. He won $251,602 for a seventh-place finish in the 2013 Poker Players Championship. $309,405 is Wattel’s biggest prize, which he collected for sixth-place in the $25,500 WPT Five Star World Poker Classic.

Ryan Hughes the Double WSOP Bracelet Winner

Ryan Hughes has two WSOP bracelets to his name

Ryan Hughes is from Phoenix, Arizona, just like fellow WSOP-lover Mike Wattel. Almost half of Hughes’ 145 cashes come from the WSOP in Las Vegas. Some $1,451,110 of his $2,837,782 come from Hughes’ WSOP exploits.

He has two bracelets to his name, both coming in Seven Card Stud Hi/Lo events. The first came in 2007 and netted him $176,358. Number two came in 2008 and was worth $183,368.

Hughes has come close to winning more bracelets over the years. A pair of runner-up finishes and nine other final tables show his poker prowess.

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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