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A Call for Uniformity for Poker's All-Time Money List

A Call for Uniformity for the All-Time Money List
By Vesper Abadon of

Poker’s all-time money list has come under scrutiny in recent weeks, especially since Daniel Negreanu over took Phil Ivey when he took second in the $100,000 Super High Roller tournament at the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure for $1 million. The cash put Negreanu ($14,116,192) ahead of Ivey ($13,859,944) by $256,248. Weeks later, a $250,000 buy-in tournament, the biggest ever, was held at the Aussie Millions. The tournament’s small field and limited notice drew the ire of some poker players who believe that such an event shouldn’t count on the all-time money list. This begs the question: what events should and shouldn’t count in the all-time money list rankings and what can we do to make it better?

The all-time list is calculated by adding the total amount of money a player has earned in tournament play. According to Daniel Negreanu, who expressed his opinion in his blog, this is what should count:

“I think the rules for what events should, and shouldn't count should be quite simple: All scheduled open events with 20+ players, released a month in advance should count. That means taking away all results from events like NBC Heads Up, Poker After Dark, as well as the $1 million cash Phil Ivey had in an 8 handed sit n' go in Monte Carlo that had a $125,000 buy in and was invite only.”

I agree with Negreanu that the all-time money list needs to be more clearly established and believe many of his ideas are worthwhile. The first step, obviously, is to determine which events should count, which is easier said than done. Currently, there are currently four major sites that track tournament stats: PokerPages, The Hendon Mob, CardPlayer, and BLUFF. While all of these sites do a good job, they are not consistent with each other’s tracking. This means that one site may include a tournament that the others don’t.  For example, Hendon Mob, considered the best database, counts Annie Duke’s $2 million score in the 2004 World Series of Poker Tournament of Champions while Bluff does not. This means the former has her career earnings at $4,270,549 while the latter has her at $2,075,637. Obviously that is a big difference and will be reflected on their respective all-time money lists.

If such sites make an effort to make their lists uniform, they’ll need to be specific as to what events will apply. Many poker players feel events like the Tournament of Champions, which was invite-only and a sit n’ go, should not count in the rankings.


One tournament that occurred recently threw gas into the fire on the whole all-time money list debate was the $250,000 buy-in event at the 2011 Aussie Millions,which boasted the largest buy-in in poker history. The tournament drew 20 players and created a prize pool of $5 million, with $2.5 million going to first-place winner Erik Seidel. That win thrust Seidel from eleventh on Hendon Mob’s all-time money list into the number three spot, leap frogging the likes of Jamie Gold, Phil Hellmuth, Scotty Nguyen, and Allen Cunningham. While that tournament was open to anyone willing to fork over the massive buy-in, some players feel the event, and ones like it in the future, should not be counted unless they’re properly executed.

The major problems regarding the $250,000 Super High Roller was that it was not originally on the Aussie Millions schedule and was thrown together on short notice. This meant players not in Australia, like Negreanu, could not make it to the tournament even if they wanted to.

So how can these sites get it right? First the poker industry needs to get on the same page and agree what sort of tournament will be counted in the all-time money list. I second Negreanu’s suggestions with a few slight tweaks:

1.)    Invite-only tournaments should not be included: This means events such as the WSOP Tournament of Champions, Poker After Darks, the NBC National Heads-Up Championship, and the upcoming professional poker league by Federated Sports and Gaming will not be counted in the rankings.

2.)    Eligible tournaments must be announced a month in advance: Throwing together large buy-in tournaments like the one at the Aussie Millions does not provide ample time for players to prepare; as such, in order to count in the rankings, a tournament will have needed to been announced a month in advance in addition to being open to the public. This would allow anyone with a rooting interest in the all-time money list to make arrangements to attend.

3.)    Eligible tournaments must have a minimum of 18 entrants or two tables: This rule would eliminate future sit n’ go tournaments and would justify not counting the ones overlooked in the past.

4.)    Buy-ins will be subtracted from a player’s total: While it will be impossible to go back and subtract a player’s buy-in for events which they didn’t cash, it is something that can be applied in the future.

Of course instituting any changes as this point would impact the current rankings; however, I believe this is an acceptable consequence if it helps achieve uniformity among the sites in regards to the all-time money list. Much like the NFL or MLB, stats are the lifeblood of a player’s legacy. If poker can establish a credible list with steadfast rules, it would be a huge step forward in cementing poker’s legitimacy.



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