By Matt Kaufman, Rakeback.com Poker News Editor
With 2012 behind us, we decided it would be a great time to look back at the top players from the past year. Taking both live and online players into account, here's our top 5:
5. Antonio Esfandiari
A long-time favorite of poker fans everywhere, Antonio Esfandiari had by far the best year of his career in 2012. He won 2 WSOP bracelets and reached 2 additional major final tables (1 WSOP and 1 WPT). More importantly, he skyrocketed to #1 on the all-time money list with an $18 million score (seen to the right) in the Big One For One Drop.
4. Marvin Rettenmaier
German pro Marvin Rettenmaier has been known for a few years in certain parts of the world, but in 2012 he became an international poker star. His five 6-figure cashes in 2012 include an incredible feat: back-to-back WPT titles. "Mad Marvin" won the $25,000 WPT Championship in May AND the following event, the WPT Merit Cyprus Classic, in August.
3. Ben 'Sauce123' Sulsky
Ben Sulsky may not be well-known to casual poker fans due to his lack of live play. Sulsky chooses instead to spend his time crushing the biggest games on the internet. In 2012, he was the largest winner online across all sites, earning himself over $3.5 million profit playing against the world's toughest players at nosebleed stakes.
2. Greg Merson
Greg Merson "only" won 2 live tournaments (both for WSOP bracelets) in 2012, but it would be easy to argue that they were the toughest events to win. First, he took down the $10K 6-handed event, known for its incredibly tough field, for over $1.1 million. To wrap things up he won the $10K WSOP Main Event, defeating a field of 6,598 players and earning the title of "World Champion".
1. Dan Smith
Even though he didn't win the One Drop or the Main Event, it would be tough to argue that anyone had a more impressive year than Dan Smith. His $3.7 million in live tournament earnings included 3 victories in 5,000 euro buy-in tournaments in 1 week in April, 2 high-roller event victories, and a 4th overall 5,000 euro buy-in win to cap the year in December.
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