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Poker Pro Bryn Kenney Makes History with Record-Setting $20.5m Haul

Bryn Kenney and Aaron Zang cut a record-setting deal
Joe Giron/PokerPhotoArchive

In a bizarre turn of events, high-stakes poker pro Bryn Kenney is now poker’s biggest all-time winner after coming second in the prestigious Triton Million in London for £16.8 million ($20.5 million US).

The Triton Million, which featured a record-breaking £1.05-million buy-in, attracted 54 players to create a colossal prize pool of £54 million.

After a blockbuster final table, action culminated with Kenney heads-up against Chinese financier Aaron Zang. The original first-place payout in the tournament was a staggering £19 million but Zang and Kenney decided to cut a deal that flattened the payout between first and second place.

At the time the deal was made, Kenney had a huge 4-1 chip lead on Zang so he earned a much bigger payout of £16.8 million. Incredibly, the amateur Zang came barreling back, however, and ended up winning the tournament for £13.7 million.

Meanwhile, Kenney had to settle for second place and £16.8 million. That’s the biggest payout in the history of poker, despite the fact it wasn’t even for first place.

It was also enough to push Kenney’s overall lifetime earnings to $55 million, which makes him the single biggest all-time earner in the history of the game.

Businessmen Clash with Pros at Final Table

The final table of the world’s biggest buy-in tournament proved to be a fascinating one with a good mixture of professional poker players and wealthy businessmen. The table included players mainly from the United States but also China, Canada and the U.K.

Vivek Rajkumar entered the eight-player final table as the runaway chip leader but a disastrous day saw him finish well short of the ultimate goal. Rajkumar ended up crashing out in fifth place but still picked up a tidy £3-million consolation prize.

Just before Rajkumar busted, it was another former chip leader for the Triton Million who hit the rail. Businessman and prop-betting king Bill Perkins, who snagged the Day 1 chip lead, was looking for his first major poker title but finished in sixth place for £2.2 million.

One of the more generous players in poker, Perkins decided to donate at least 10 percent of his earnings to the REG charity. That’s in addition to the £50,000 that every player in the Triton Million contributed to charity. In total the tournament raised over £2.7 million for charity.

Here’s a complete look at all the payouts from the 54-player Triton Million for charity (* reflects two-way deal):

PlaceNameCountryGBP PayoutUSD Payout
1Aaron ZangChina£13,779,491*$16,754,497*
2Bryn KenneyUnited States£16,890,509*$20,537,187*
3Dan SmithUnited States£7,200,000$8,719,164
4Stephen ChidwickUnited Kingdom£4,410,000$5,340,488
5Vivek RajkumarIndia£3,000,000$3,632,985
6Bill PerkinsUnited States£2,200,000$2,664,189
7Alfred DeCarolisUnited States£1,720,000$2,082,911
8Timothy AdamsCanada£1,400,000$1,695,393
9Wai Leong ChanMalaysia£1,200,000$1,459,081
10Chin Wei LimMalaysia£1,100,000$1,337,491
11Winfred YuHong Kong£1,100,000$1,337,491

Kenney Shakes Up All-Time Leaderboard

For years, poker’s all-time leaderboard was owned by TV poker pros like Phil Hellmuth, Daniel Negreanu and Phil Ivey but the rise of the high roller has changed all that.

When the World Series of Poker introduced a $1-million buy-in tournament in 2012, it became clear that a single hot streak playing the super high roller circuit would almost be enough to rocket a player to the top of the all-time list.

That’s exactly what happened when Antonio Esfandiari won the first $1-million buy-in Big One for One Drop for $18 million. His lifetime live tournament earnings soared to over $25 million. Previously it would have taken years to earn that much playing poker but super high roller tournaments changed what was previously possible in poker.

It wasn’t to last, however, and Esfandiari was quickly passed by young sharks like Dan Colman and Fedor Holz. Last year Justin Bonomo recorded one of the single best years in poker history by winning both the $300,000 buy-in Super High Roller Bowl and the $1-million buy-in Big One for One Drop to win a combined $10 million and give him first place on the all-time list with over $40 million in earnings.

Now Kenney has an emphatic lead on the rest of the pack with a staggering $55 million in lifetime live tournament earnings, which is $10 million more than Bonomo.

Here’s a look at the updated top 10 all-time earners according to Hendon Mob poker database:

RankCountryPlayerEarnings
1stUnited StatesBryn Kenney$55,505,634.00
2ndUnited StatesJustin Bonomo$45,014,707.00
3rdCanadaDaniel Negreanu$41,857,384.00
4thUnited StatesDan Smith$36,742,718.00
5thUnited StatesErik Seidel$35,726,969.00
6thUnited StatesDavid Peters$33,146,070.00
7thGermanyFedor Holz$32,556,379.00
8thEnglandStephen Chidwick$30,535,377.00
9thUnited StatesJason Koon$30,015,195.00
10thUnited StatesDaniel Colman$28,925,059.00