Crushing Poker Tournaments: Who is Hot So Far in 2021?

The poker tournament scene has changed drastically since COVID-19. But the first quarter of the year has provided some huge wins from some familiar faces, and some lesser known pros.

Daniel Dvoress poker tournaments

Daniel Dvoress is one of the top tournament performers so far in 2021. (Image: Poker Central)

Many major poker events such as the popular Aussie Millions have been postponed to start the year. Some, perhaps, will reschedule later in the year when the virus is less of a threat as more people receive the vaccine. That may include the World Series of Poker, the biggest spectacle in poker, but no official announcement has been made on that front.

As we wait and see what the future holds for poker tournaments around the world, we reflect on those who’ve been crushing it despite the pandemic so far in 2021.

Qing Liu, Enough Said

Forget saving the best for last, we say the cream of the crop should rise to the top. Qing Liu nearly pulled off the most incredible accomplishment in World Poker Tour history earlier this month.

He first shipped the $5,000 WPT Venetian for $752,880, beating out 2015 world champ Joe McKeehen heads-up on March 9. One day later, he finished sixth in the $10,000 2020 WPT Gardens Poker Championship, also in Las Vegas, for $111,795, bringing his 24-hour total to $864,675. The second event originally began in Jan. 2020 but the final table was postponed due to COVID-19.

Liu also picked a handful of smaller cashes in Las Vegas poker tournaments this year, including a recent $32,815 score for 11th place in the $3,500 Wynn Spring Classic Championship. Live poker tournament prowess in 2021, at least to this point, begins with Qing Liu.

Underrated Star Continues Brilliance

Daniel Dvoress has been one of the most underrated poker pros for quite some time. The Canadian has nearly $16 million in live tournament cashes, but doesn’t seem to get much recognition internationally, at least not compared to the likes of Stephen Chidwick, Justin Bonomo, and others.

But the fact of the matter is he’s one of the best in the game, and the numbers back that up. This year, he’s continued his winning ways, starting with the $5,300 Partypoker Millions Online Main Event, in which he finished third for $422,422, just six months after shipping an online WSOP bracelet in the $1,500 Millionaire Maker on GGPoker for $1.5 million.

In early February, he took down the WPT Mike Sexton Classic on Partypoker, an online poker tournament honoring the late great poker legend, for $294,346. He earned a spot in the CardsChat Big Winners of the Week for his impressive performance.

First Big Major Win in Nearly a Year

The global pandemic put a halt on major live poker events all around the world. But the World Poker Tour was the first major series to host a tournament back in January with the $3,500 Lucky Hearts Poker Open in South Florida.

Ilyas Muradi won it, beating out 1,573 entrants who feared not the pandemic, for $809,515, still the largest live tournament score in 2021 (Liu’s win at Venetian is second). Muradi not only picked up his first WPT title and WPT cash. In winning the tournament, he earned just his second ever live tournament cash, his only previous cash was for just $975 in a $600 Lucky Hearts Poker Open event earlier in the series.

Written by
Jon Sofen
Semi-pro poker player with 17 years experience on the felt and more than five years working as professional poker media.

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