Big Winners of 2021: Ivey, Negreanu, Arieh, and Bonomo Impress in 2021

7 min read

CardsChat pointed its bright light on the Big Winners from every level of the game this year. Our aim was to laud the elite, congratulate the rising stars, and spot the next Phil Ivey before they hit the big time. Our weekly round-ups have done that for the majority of 2021 and will continue to do so into 2022. So, to draw a line under a year of impressive performances, and to pick out some names you should keep an eye on, here’s our Big Winners of 2021 round-up.

Ramon Kropmanns
(Image: Instagram/ramonkrop)

Ramon Kropmanns

Venom IV Main Event
Americas Cardroom


Virtually the entire poker world was locked down in February 2021, but that didn’t stop Kropmanns from winning more than $1 million. The Brazilian was one of 3,774 players who anted up in the fourth installment of the $2,650 Venom main event. A pair of jacks earned Kropmanns the title and his biggest win to date.

Doug Polk
(Image: Poker Central)

Doug Polk

Heads-up NLH vs. Daniel Negreanu


It might not have been a tournament win, but Polk earned a spot in our Big Winners of the Week in February after beating Daniel Negreanu for a hefty sum. The highly-anticipated heads-up match started off as an even contest. However, Polk dominated the online portion of the showdown to win more than $1.2 million.

Justin Bonomo
(Image: WPT)

Justin Bonomo

Super Millions


Bonomo secured his place as the second biggest winner of all-time in early 2021 after claiming the $10,300 Super Millions. He would go on to win almost $3.5 million more before the year was out to become the biggest tournament winner in poker history.

andrew moreno wynn millions
(Image: The Wynn)

Andrew Moreno

Wynn Millions
Summer Classic


Moreno had been grinding out results in low and mid-stakes tournaments since 2007, but 2021 was his breakout year. As ever, the eagle-eyed observers here at CardsChat spotted the cash game pro’s transition to tournaments in July. Just six weeks after telling the world he was going to focus on MTTs, Moreno topped a field of 1,328 entrants in the $10,000 Summer Classic to bank his biggest every payday.

Niklas Astedt
(Image: VIP-Grinders)

Niklas Astedt

WSOP Super Circuit Online Main Event


Astedt has been a force in the MTT world for years, but he really shone in 2021. The Swede won multiple MTTs, including a WPT Online event. However, it was his WSOP Super Circuit victory that stood out. Coming from behind in the $525 main event, Astedt beat Yanfeil Chi to top a field of 14,496 to win his first Circuit ring.

joakim andersson
(Image: Gutshot Magazine)

Joakim Andersson

GGPoker Spring Festival
Super Millions Main Event


Andersson put on one of the most dominant final table performances of 2021 in the Spring Festival edition of the Super Millions. 1,089 players anted up in the $10,300 event, but Swedish pro Andersson was the strongest. He amassed a 19-1 chip lead by the start of heads-up play and never relinquished his grip until he’d won the tournament and more than $1.5 million.

vanessa kade
(Image: Twitter/Vanessa Kade)

Vanessa Kade

15th Anniversary Sunday Million


Kade was known as a strong tournament player before 2021, but she cemented her status as a top-tier pro in March. The anniversary edition of the $215 Sunday Millions attracted 69,876 entrants. That meant Kade scooped the lion’s share of $13.9 million prize pool and the biggest win of her career to date.

Endrit Geci poker
(Image: PokerStars)

Endrit Geci

Millions Online Main Event


Geci might have been known on the British poker scene before winning the $5,300 Millions Online main event, but he became an international star in March. The man from Manchester came through a field of 1,084 players to dominate the final table. A heads-up deal with Francisco Correia earned him a six-figure payday and his first major title.

daniel negreanu
(Image: Mark Gorman/PokerCentral)

Daniel Negreanu

PokerGo Cup


Negreanu’s 2021 might have gotten off to a poor start, but he bounced back from his loss to Doug Polk by winning the PokerGo Cup high roller. Beating 35 players in the $50,000 tournament earned Negreanu $700,000. It also broke a tournament skid that last 2,818 days.

Aleksei Vandyshev
(Image: Borgata Casino)

Aleksei Vandyshev
‘Ha KoJleHu’

WSOP Online Main Event


Before the WSOP was given the all clear to host a live event in Las Vegas, players outside of the US anted up in a $5,000 online alternative. The WSOP Online Main Event attracted 4,092 players, including Vandyshev. The Russian grinder had to come from behind to win his first bracelet, but he did it in style against Edson Tsutsumi Jr.

wiktor malinowski
(Image: Poker Central)

Wiktor Malinowski

Super High Roller Bowl Europe
Merit Royal Hotel & Casino


Malinowski picked up one of the biggest wins of 2021 thanks to an impressive performance in the $250,000 Super High Roller Bowl Europe main event. The man known as Limitless online powered through a field of 41 entrants to win his first PokerGo title after a five-hour, heads-up battle with Ivan Leow.

phil ivey
(Image: Twitter/MeritPoker)

Phil Ivey

Super High Roller Bowl Europe Short Deck
Merit Royal Hotel & Casino


Ivey has a habit of lurking in the shadows for months on end and, just when people are about to question whether or not he’s still got it, he bursts back into the limelight with a win. His standout victory this year came in August at the Super High Roller Bowl Europe. Ivey topped a field of 48 runners in the $25,000 short deck event to prove the doubters wrong, once again.

Eduardo Pires
(Image: Twitter/Natural8)

Eduardo Pires

WSOP Online Millionaire Maker


Pires became a rising star and one to watch in 2021 thanks to the WSOP Online Millionaire Maker. For a relatively meager $1,500 buy-in, the Brazilian was able to win more than $1.3 million. He had to beat a field of 5,437 entrants to do it, but he got the job done in style to win his first bracelet.

sohale khalili
(Image: WSOP)

Sohale Khalili

The Venom
Americas Cardroom


Khalili, aka BabyBowser, smashed his way through the second Venom of 2021. The $2,650 MTT attracted a bumper field of 3,930 entrants in August, which meant Khalili was able to claim the lion’s share of a $10 million prize pool. Despite a $500,000 jump between first and second place, the Californian pro secured the biggest win of his career by beating Sw33ney without a heads-ups deal.

Michael Addamo
(Image: Poker Central)

Michael Addamo

Super High Roller Bowl VI
PokerGo Studio


Addamo was one of 2021’s top performers. He finished second to Ali Imsirovic in the PokerGo Player of the Year race, but actually won more money on the tour. Contributing to the Australian’s $9.4 million 2021 haul was a win at the Super High Roller Bowl. Beating a field of 21 runners in the $300,000 event earned Addamo more than $3.4 million.

Euan mcnicholas
(Image: Twitter/Grosvenor)

Euan McNicholas

Grosvenor National Poker League


McNicholas established himself as one of the UK’s top tournament prospects in 2021 thanks to an impressive run on Grosvenor’s live tour. He made the headlines in July when he cashed twice at GUKPT London, winning one event outright. He won another GUKPT event in November before being named the tour’s Player of the Year. That honor not only confirmed his status as a rising star, but earned McNicholas a place on Team Grosvenor and an extra $26,800.

Josh Arieh
(Image: WSOP)

Josh Arieh

WSOP 2021
The Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino


Arieh was the surprise star of this year’s WSOP. The American pro was a force to be reckoned with during the poker boom, but stepped back from the limelight as a new generation broke through. He didn’t step back completely though and, this year, he was back to prove a point. The man from Georgia cashed 12 times at the WSOP and won two bracelets. That was enough to make him the 2021 WSOP Player of the Year.

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