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Online poker is a global game with players logging on and grinding from every part of the world. Every country has a #1-ranked player and here we take a look at some of those that lead the way in their home countries. Sami ‘LarsLuzak’ Kelopuro - Finland Known for his involvement in the high stakes online cash games, Sami ‘LarsLuzak’ Kelopuro put on a clinic this fall when it came to his tournament play. So much so that it elevated him to a career-high ranking of #15 in the world and #1 in his home country of Finland. He grinded both partypoker’s and PokerStars’ fall series stringing together one of the most impressive runs of PLB qualifying cashes of the year. He racked up an amazing 5,234.40 PLB points in September alone which was more than enough to jettison him into the worldwide top-25 and overtake countryman ‘European’ for the lead in Finland. His highlight score during that run was his victory in partypoker's POWERFEST #142 SHR Championship Event where he won $317,190 and accumulated 1,278.67 PLB points. There are some pros that only register for tournaments when the major series come around and traditionally, Kelopuro has been one of them. However, he’s returned to tournaments this month putting in light volume but still producing results. On November 6 he won the PokerStars High Roller Club $530 Omania Six Max for $11,112, his first major score since the end of September. Kelopuro currently has a 1000 PLB point lead over the field in Finland’s rankings making him a favorite to end 2018 as the #1-ranked player. Aleksei ‘LeshiyAS’ Smirnov - Estonia Estonia’s #1-ranked player is Aleksei ‘LeshiyAS’ Smirnov, a constant presence in the worldwide top-50. A consistent grinder, Smirnov posted a career-high cash back in September when he took down PokerStars WCOOP Event #43-L ($2,100 NLHE Eight Max) for $142,602.89 and 1,001 PLB points. Since that time he’s been on his grind, posting over 80 cashes in November alone for a total of over $35,000. Five of his cashes were for four-figures with his November highlight coming with a victory in the November 3 edition of the PokerStars Hot $215 for nearly $7,000. Smirnov needs to continue to keep his foot on the gas in order to stay ahead in Estonia as fellow countryman ‘markovitsus’ is hot on his heels, only roughly 40 PLB points behind him in the standings. Smirnov is currently ranked #40 in the world. Michael ‘mczhang’ Chi Zhang - United Kingdom The reigning king of the United Kingdom continues to be Michael ‘mczhang’ Chi Zhang. Not only ranked #1 in his home country, Zhang has spent the better part of two months as a top-5 player in the world, reaching as high as #2. Zhang’s rise through the rankings has been well-documented on PocketFives. He absolutely crushed during POWERFEST and WCOOP, continually setting new career-high cashes. His ultimate score was his third-place finish in the POWERFEST $25,500 buy-in $3M GTD Championship Event where he took home $468,000. For Zhang that was but one of four six-figure cashes in September representing one of the best single months of any online poker player in 2018. Perhaps for the young Brit, earning over $1.7 million in a single month is enough to keep him satisfied for some time. He hasn’t been seen firing up online tournaments since the end of September. Zhang currently sits ranked #4 in the world but will likely hold down the #1 spot in the UK for some time to come as he holds an over 2000 PLB point lead over his closest competition, Patrick ‘pleno1’ Leonard. ‘kofi89’ - Uruguay ‘kofi89’ leads the way in Uruguay. Although he has been putting in light volume in the month of November, he has still been able to record some impressive results. ‘kofi89’ has only 10 total cashes so far in November and seven of them are for four-figures or more. This month alone, he has recorded two outright victories. The first is a win in the November 6 edition of the High Roller Club ($530 Daily Supersonic Six Max) for $28,107 and 383.73 PLB points. He followed that up the very next day by taking down the partypoker $30K GTD Bounty Hunter for another $8,348 and 181.55 PLB points. In total ‘kofi89’ has sought $57,000 in November earnings with half a month to go. Currently sitting as the #12-ranked player in the world, he’s has been constantly on the verge of returning to the top 10, where he set a career-high ranking of #10. There is no end in sight to ‘kofi89’s reign in Uruguay as the only player close to him is former #1-ranked superstar Fabrizio ‘SixthSenSe19’ Gonzalez. ‘kofi89’ surpassed Gonzales thanks to a massive win during the October 15 Black Chip Poker OSS $1M Main Event for $167,500 and 1,001.25 PLB points. The surge in PLB points in October has put ‘kofi89’ 2500 PLB points above Gonzales. A new major milestone is right around the corner for the Montevideo resident as ‘kofi89’ is on the verge of eclipsing $4 million in lifetime earnings. ‘lena900’ - Sweden It stands to reason that if you are the #1-ranked player in the world, that you are also the #1-ranked player in your home country. That certainly is the case for ‘lena900’. The superstar Swede has been atop the rankings in just about every category since SCOOP ended and he continued to lead the way in his talent-rich home country. It seems that ‘lena900’s only real competition these days is himself. He has nearly $12.8 million in lifetime earnings and could very well be the second player to ever reach $13 million by the end of the year. He has a nearly 2000 PLB point lead over his fellow countryman ‘C Darwin2’ almost assuring him to not only end the year as the #1-ranked player in the world but to also capture the prestigious Yearly PLB award. One look at ‘lena900’s results will give you a snapshot of his story. He’s a pro’s pro who grinds like he just discovered the game. Through the first half of November he already, remarkably, has 87 cashes for over $200,000. Four of those cashes are for five-figures. His largest takedown of the month was a first-place finish in the partypoker Sunday Main Event High Roller for $36,629 and 456.07 PLB points. There appears to be no slowing down ‘lena900’ as he continues to dominate, not just Sweden, but the world of online poker.
January was another massive month for Ukranian online poker superstar Roman ‘Romeopro’ Romanovsky who put in maximum volume to finish the month with the 2019 January PLB crown. In 2018, Romanovsky took the months of October and November completely off. Then he put in just a handful of days at the online felt during December. But as 2019 heated up, so did Romanovsky. ‘Romeopro’ turned his attention to his online grind and produced more than 215 cashes in January racking up 4,522.98 PLB points. Of those results, an amazing 14 of them were for five-figure scores. They were headlined by a trio of cashes on January 28 where he brought in $98,716 in back-to-back-to-back finishes. Romanovsky has been soaring up the All-Time Online Money List, currently sitting in tenth place with over $11.3 million in career earnings. His results have also propelled him back into the worldwide top 5, where he currently sits as the #4-ranked player in the world. ‘Romeopro’ needed to put in that volume in order to fend off Sweden’s ‘C Darwin2’ (4,134.98), who finished January in the #2 spot. The world’s #2-ranked player also just surpassed a major milestone of his own, climbing over $12 million in lifetime earnings. It was just one year ago that the Swede was celebrating surpassing $8 million. ‘C Darwin2’ started the year off with a victory in the New Year’s Day PokerStars High Roller Club $1,050 Daily Warm-up for $22,463. He followed that up days later by taking down the PokerStars Winter Series Event 51-H $2,100 NLHE Progressive KO for $57,180. He earned seven outright victories in January and won 10 five-figure scores. Patrick ‘pleno1’ Leonard (3,933.71) has also been seeing early returns in 2019 as he finished the month in third place in the PLB race. The former #1-ranked player in the world has returned to the top 5 thanks in large part to his fourth-place finish in the January 28 partypoker $1M GTD Big Game where he took home $82,290 and 447.09 PLB points. Leonard is a player of consistency, constantly mixing it up in the biggest online tournaments available. In January he earned 10 podium finishes including a victory in the January 20 edition of GGPoker’s $500 Blade for $19,663 and a third-place finish in the partypoker Sunday Super High Roller for another $22,475 on the same day. Leonard currently sits at the #1-ranked player in the UK. Sweden’s ‘inhoo’ (3,396.04) just celebrated joining the $10 million lifetime earnings club and his persistence in January landed him fourth on the PLB leaderboard. His month was highlighted by a runner-up finish in the partypoker Christmas Freeze Event #46-HR for $36,535 and 361.36 PLB points. ‘inhoo’ made his way into the money over 140 times in January, including six outright victories. ‘inhoo’, a five-time PocketFives Triple Crown award winner, currently sits as the #21-ranked player in the world. January’s top five is rounded out by former #1-ranked player Chris ‘Gettin Daize’ Oliver (3,381.16). Oliver has been on a tear as of late and has climbed back into the top 20, currently sitting ranked at #18 in the world. He posted his largest result of the month on January 27 with his runner-up finish in the PokerStars High Roller Club Sunday Warm-Up for $44,261. It was one of his seven five-figure scores in January, helping him to sit in the top 10 on the Online All-Time Money List (9th). PocketFives January PLB Leaderboard RANK PLAYER PLB POINTS 1 Roman 'Romeopro' Romanovsky 4522.98 2 'C Darwin2' 4134.59 3 Patrick 'pleno1' Leonard 3933.71 4 'inhoo' 3396.04 5 Chris 'Gettin Daize' Oliver 3381.16 6 'lena900' 3347.41 7 'hellohellohello' 3176.81 8 Conor '1_conor_b_1' Beresford 3001.72 9 'girafganger7' 2981.57 10 Jonathan 'proudflop' Proudfoot 2943.69
It’s been years since an American, playing online poker inside the United States, took down the Monthy PLB award. Sure, Alex Foxen, an American, took home the award just last month but he was playing from his home in Canada. However, since Black Friday it’s been nearly impossible for a player grinding the regulated U.S. online poker sites available to them to add a monthly PLB achievement to their resume - but in June, it happened. New Jersey-based online pro Yong ‘ykwon17’ Kwon (3,129 PLB points) not only rose to the top of the U.S. Online Poker Rankings, but he grinded his way to the June Monthly PLB award thanks to a pair of major six-figure scores - one of which was good for a World Series of Poker gold bracelet. The stars seemingly aligned allowing for Kwon’s June success. PokerStars' and partypoker’s spring series had come to an end allowing many major players to take some time away from the online grind. Additionally, many regular online pros, including the likes of ‘lena900’ and Patrick ‘pleno1’ Leonard, heading out to Las Vegas to take a shot in the 2019 World Series of Poker. Those factors wouldn’t be enough. Kwon had to crush the month of June and he did just that. As previously mentioned, Kwon took down WSOP Event #7 ($400 NLHE Online Bracelet Event) for a career-high cash of $165,263 and a massive 1,008 PLB haul. He followed that up a week later by winning WSOP.com’s OC #35 ($300,000 GTD Player Appreciation Tournament) for another $121,730 and 799.11 PLB points. In total, Kwon registered 10 PLB-qualifying cashes all of which were good for at least four-figures bringing him over $352,000 in total earnings for the month. His performance and results in New Jersey brought him over 3,000 PLB points and were good enough to lead the entire world in the month of June. PocketFives June Monthly PLB Leaderboard RANK PLAYER POINTS 1 Yong 'ykwon17' Kwon 3129 2 Daniel 'centrfieldr' Lupo 2556 3 Patrick 'thebigdog09' Brooks 2417 4 'x_zola25' 2391 5 Chris 'Gettin Daize' Oliver 2165 6 Jordan 'JWPRODIGY' Westmorland 2090 7 Jerry 'perrymejsen' Odeen 1919 8 'Sheater' 1877 9 'panic.player' 1709 10 Doug 'OU_dlanger610' Lang 1707 If it weren’t amazing enough that Kwon would take the June title, another New Jersey player rose to the #2 spot this month. Daniel ‘centrfieldr’ Lupo (2,556) also leveraged a WSOP bracelet win for big time PLB points when he celebrated a victory in the WSOP Event #46 ($500 NLHE Turbo Online Bracelet Event) for $145,274 and 891.52 PLB points. Lupo also managed nine outright victories in June for nearly $250,000 in total earnings, helping him hit a career-high worldwide ranking of #89 in the world. The UK’s #7-ranked online player Patrick ‘thebogdog09’ Brooks (2,417) finished the month in third place. His highlight score of the month came with an outright victory in the June 23 edition of the PokerStars High Roller Club ($1,050 Sunday Warm-Up) for $31,485 and 387.30 PLB points. Brooks put in a massive grind throughout June, registering 144 cashes for over $136,000 in total earnings. He currently sits ranked at #61 in the world, just down from his career high of #49. The #4 spot in June went to Denmark’s #1-ranked player ‘x_zola25’ (2,391). ‘x_zola25’ had nine PLB-qualifing cashes including a victory in PokerStars UFC KO Poker Series 22 ($530 NLHE High Roller) for $18,212 and 316.23 PLB points. He also managed a pair of other High Roller victories earlier in the month when he took down the June 10 edition of the PokerStars High Roller Club $530 Daily Supersonic for $12,785 and completed the feat again on June 14 in the High Roller Club $530 Bounty Builder for another $10,966. Closing out the top 5 for the month of June is former #1-ranked PocketFiver Chris ‘Getting Daize’ Oliver (2,165). Oliver picked up a spotlight victory in the June 16 edition of the PokerStars High Roller Club $530 Sunday 500 for $22,414 and 340.59 PLB points as one of his 11 podium finishes in the month.
Former #1-ranked online poker player in the world ‘girafganger7’ added another line item to his already incredibly packed resume by taking down the PocketFives Monthly Leaderboard for August. While some online players may have been taking one last chance to go on vacation before summer ends, ‘Giraf’ (2399 PLB points) was putting in maximum volume accumulating over 120 results for a total of just over $125,000 in earnings. His highlight score came on the back half of the month when he outlasted the 284 runners in the August 21 edition of the PokerStars High Roller Club: $530 Bounty Builder HR, taking home $13,519 for the win. He accomplished the same feat just 10 days later, winning the same tournament on August 31 for another $9,721. [ptable zone="Global Poker Article Ad"][ptable zone="888poker"][ptable zone="PokerStars NJ"] In total, ‘Giraf’ picked up four-figures or more in 21 of his results, three of which were good for over $10K. Adding to those results, he earned eight PLB qualifying scores making up 1,398.74 of his total August PLB of 2,399 points. His PLB point accumulations have helped the UK-based pro to keep himself among the elite players in the world, where he currently sits at #14 in the world. This is the third time in 'Giraf's storied career that he has picked up a Monthly PLB award. His first came back in April of 2017 and his second PLB badge was awarded in February of this year. Just 62 PLB points behind ‘Giraf’ was another former #1-ranked PocketFiver, Chris ‘Gettin Daize’ Oliver (2,337). Over the past few months, Oliver has been making strides back up the PocketFives Rankings, where he currently sits as the #8 player in the world. He kicked off August with a bang, taking down the August 1 edition of the PokerStars High Roller Club: $530 Bounty Builder for $17,397 and 309 PLB points. Oliver picked up his second five-figure score of the month on August 11 when he had a final table finish in the PokerStars High Roller Club: $1,050 Sunday Warm-Up for $15,023 and 182.99 PLB points. He added two more five-figure scores en route to amassing $134,000 over the course of 123 in the money finishes. Russia’s ‘papan9_p$’ (2,194) is enjoying a career-high ranking of #10 in the world after a stellar month of August as well. Coming in at #3 on the Monthly PLB, ‘papan9_p$’ earned his highlight score of the month by taking down the August 4 edition of the PokerStars High Roller Club: $1,050 Sunday Warm-Up for $32,862 and 403.73 PLB points. After his over $118,000 in earnings in August, he is days away from breaking past the major milestone of over $5 million in total career online earnings. Another player enjoying career-high online poker success is noted live tournament crusher Kristen ‘krissyb24’ Bicknell, who comes in at #4 for the month of August. Bicknell recently just smashed through into the top ten in the PocketFives Rankings and is coming off an all-time high of #6, currently landing at #7 in the world. Unlike some of her peers on this list, Bicknell was not putting in tons of online volume in August - notching just 30 tournament results in the month. But when she did play, she routinely crushed. A partypoker sponsored ambassador, Bicknell started the month off with a five-figure score in the POWERFEST #21 High Roller for $14,857 and 184.16 PLB points. She followed that up just days later with a final table finish in the POWERFEST #38 Super High Roller, picked up another $20,000 and 220 PLB points. Her third and final five-figure score came in the August 11 POWERFEST Super High Roller where she earned another $29,082 and 306.26 PLB points. Her total earnings for the month wer over $119,000 with eight PLB-qualifying cashes. Bicknell's stellar month was just enough to help her soar past $3 million in lifetime online earnings to go with her more than $4 million in cashes on the live circuit. Rounding out the top five for the month of August was emerging Brazilian online superstar Geraldo ‘geraldocesar’ Cesar. Cesar racked up 129 total cashes in August for a total of over $115,000 in earnings. This included a runner-up finish in the August 18 PokerStars High Roller Club: $530 Bounty Builder for $28,595 and 321 PLB points - his largest score of the month. He followed that up with a victory in the August 26 GGPoker Sunday Blade for another $15,546 and 273.86 PLB points. PocketFives August Monthly PLB RANK PLAYER POINTS 1 girafganger7 2,399 2 Gettin Daize 2,337 3 papan9_p$ 2,194 4 krissyb24 2,187 5 geraldocesar 2,171 6 funwheel 2,076 7 YugiohPro 1,872 8 pleno1 1,866 9 s.totuli 1,852 10 x_zola25 1,847