It has been quite some time since poker truly burst onto the scene as the go-to game in the early-2000s. It was a period where anyone and everyone wanted to be seen playing in casinos or on TV shows. The World Series of Poker exploded into life, Rounders was a hit movie and some of the biggest players in the game, became household names.
So, below we take a look at some of those people and reminisce to what some would say are the halcyon days of the casino game.
There is no place better to start than the one player who is often referenced as the reason for the boom in the game. Moneymaker was an accountant who only gained entry to the 2003 World Series of Poker, by winning an online tournament. Going in as a relative unknown, he stormed to victory taking home the $2.5 million first prize. His victory gave hope to all amateurs playing in their living rooms around the world, and online poker has been a firm fixture in the game ever since.
Like many celebrities at the time, Maguire was a keen poker player. The actor, who came to prominence in the 2002 version of Spider-Man, was one of the main players in high-stakes games which were attended by only the brightest of stars. It's said that it's Maguire who has been immortalized as 'Player X' in the movie, Molly's Game.
You cannot have any list of prominent names in poker without mentioning Damon. He starred in the aforementioned movie, Rounders, as Mike McDermott. Fresh from his performance in Good Will Hunting and shortly after Saving Private Ryan, Damon was the AAA star in the making. So, when taking on the role of McDermott, movie fans were immediately introduced to the game, bringing poker to a bigger, wider audience. However, poker players loved it too and it's been said to be the greatest gambling movie ever made.
Ivey became very famous during poker's heyday on TV, featuring on the prime time shows such as High Stakes Poker. He has racked up substantial winnings, gained a following among fans, and was listed recently on Poker.org as one of the top players in the history of the game. Which is not surprising considering he's won 10 World Series of Poker bracelets to date.
Chris 'Jesus' Ferguson
The long-haired player from California, was a major player in the poker world in the 2000s. At the time he was a real icon of the sport, after gaining a PhD, he took what had been a hobby at UCLA into a professional career. But he didn't win his first WSOP bracelet until the age of 38, five years after his introduction as a poker pro. His two-bracelet haul in 2000 netted him almost $2 million and the respect of his peers and fans alike.
Like Ferguson, Harman was to win her first WSOP bracelet at the start of the new century. The amazing thing was, she'd never played the No Limit Deuce to Seven Lowball variant of the game prior to the tournament. The resident of Reno, was then the first woman to win two bracelets, after taking the title in the $5,000 limit Texas Hold'em event in 2002.
Daniel 'Kid Poker' Negreanu
Negreanu is a six-time WSOP bracelet winner who has earned over $40 million in prize money to date. The Canadian won his first bracelet in 1998 before rising to prominence in the 2000s, taking titles in 2003, 2004 and 2008. His iconic status was solidified as he popped up in movies and music videos in the late 2000s. Negreanu, made a cameo in X: Men Origins: Wolverine as well as in the video for Katy Perry's song, Waking Up in Vegas.
Hellmuth is currently basking in the glory of a 16th WSOP title which he earned in October 2021. The 'Poker Brat' stamped his name into popular culture on TV in 2007. On an appearance on Poker After Dark, he famously lost his head during a game with fellow pros which prompted him to storm off the set. Whilst his ability at the table is undoubted, Hellmuth's hot headed reputation has certainly followed him around too.