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Top 5 Live Poker Tournament Winners in 2016

19 December 2016, By: compncards
In the old school days of poker, winning $1 million in live tournaments in a year would make you a legend of the game.
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Nowadays, it's just enough to put you in the "notable" category.

Over 100 players won $1 million or more in live poker tournaments in 2016.  Of those 100 players, 20 earned at least $3 million or more.

The top players this year earned a staggering $6 million or more. Here's a look at the top 5 players of 2016, each with winnings ranging from $6.5 to over $16 million.

5. Rainer Kempe - $6.52 Million

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Rainer Kempe had a breakout year in 2016 in terms of career earnings, taking home $6.52 million in live events. The majority of those earnings came in just three tournaments.

In March Kempe finished runner-up to Tom Marchese in a $25,000 Aria High Roller to earn $321,790. He then became the darling of the poker world in late May when he chopped the $300,000 Super High Roller Bowl with Fedor Holz.

Officially, the German won $5 million for his victory. He followed that win up with a victory in a $50k Aria High Roller tournament in July for $531,245.

This was Kempe's second straight 7-figure campaign. He earned $1.55 million in 2015. He presently has $8.12 million in live earnings.

4. David Peters - $7.3 Million

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David Peters followed up his his career year in 2015 by more than doubling his earnings in 2016. He kicked off the year by earning $2.3 million in a $200k event at the Triton Super High Roller Series.

Peters then made three final tables in a two-day span at the PCA and finished runner-up in the $250k Challenge at Aussie Millions to add over $1 million more to his bankroll.

In July Peters scored a pair of huge wins in Las Vegas. On July 2nd, he won a $25k High Roller at Bellagio for $393,120. The next day he entered a $1,500 NL Event at the World Series of Poker and proceeded to win his first gold bracelet and $412k.

Peters kept crushing for the rest of the year, earning 7 more six-figure scores.

He is in contention for both the Global Poker Index and CardPlayer Player of the Year titles, presently 2nd in both but close enough where he could possible win one or both by year's end depending on his finish in the EPT Prague Main Event, where's he's in the final three.

Peters has $7.3 million in earnings in 2016. (Final tally subject to change pending to his finish in the EPT Prague Main Event)

3. Qui Nguyen - $8 Million

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It's rare that you see the winner of the WSOP Main Event finish the year third on the annual money list but that is what happened in 2016.

Qui Nguyen surprised the poker world by running over the final table and ultimately defeating Gordon Vayo to win the WSOP Main Event and $8,005,310.

Prior to his victory Nguyen had just under $47k in career earnings. His largest score previously was back in 2009 when he finished 54th in a $1,500 NL Event at the WSOP for $9,029.

2. Elton Tsang - $12.24 Million

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Elton Tsang's last live tournament score prior to the 2016 $1 million Big One for One Drop Invitational was a 5th-place finish in the A$ 50k High Roller at the 2013 WSOP Asia-Pacific.

Not to say Tsang was a bit obscure, but he was somewhere in the 3,000s on the All-Time Money List. That's no longer the case. By winning the Big One for One Drop Tsang earned a massive €11.11 million or $12.24 million USD.

This moved Tsang up to 23rd on the All-Time Money List and 1st on China's All-Time Money List.

Tsang's victory was the one bright spot on an otherwise abysmal event. Now the question is whether we will hear from him again in any meaningful poker events.

1. Fedor Holz - $16.48 Million

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Was there any doubt as to #1 on the 2016 Money List? Fedor Holz put together the 2nd largest single-year total in live poker history with $16.48 million.

Some feel that Holz's run in 2016 was superior to the $22 million run of Dan Colman in 2014. Colman earned $15.3 million of that figure in the Big One for One Drop. 

Holz's top score was $4.98 million, which he earned after winning the $111,111 One Drop High Roller for his first WSOP bracelet. Holz had four seven-figure scores in 2016 and 9 scores of $100k or more.

Holz's summer run included his bracelet victory, a runner-up finish in the Super High Roller Bowl, and four Aria High Roller final tables with three wins and a runner-up finish.

While claiming to be "retired" from the game, we expect him to continue crushing for years to come.

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