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Who are the best poker players from Central Europe?

Prague, Czech Republic – Despite popular belief, the world’s number one card game, real money poker, is still going strong virtually everywhere. Yes, it may not be at the heights it was 20 years ago, but it has managed to maintain decent popularity in most developed countries.

And in those where this activity has yet to be permitted at land-based venues, most just flock to online poker sites ranked as premium by renowned internet review hubs.

The World Poker Tour (WPT) recently predicted that around 100 million people enjoy poker around the globe, dominantly online, with most of these players (about 60%) living in the US. However, a significant chunk of them also resides in Central Europe.

Some of the more famous competitions that get organized in this part of the world are the European Poker Tour (EPT) Prague, happening every December, legs of the World Series of Poker (WSOP) Europe, commonly held in the Czech Republic and Germany, and Concord Million, an annual competition with a massive guaranteed prize pool occurring in the Concord Card Casino in Vienna. Below is a list of ten Central European players that have dazzled in these and other tournaments.

1. Fedor Holz – Germany

Holz is a German-born player currently residing in Vienna, who won his initial WSOP bracelet in 2016, and who the site had as the best MTT online player in 2014 and 2015. He is the first German to surpass an accumulated prize pool of $32.5 million in live competitions.

2. Ole Schemion – Germany

Ole Schemion also lives in Vienna but hails from Berlin. For the uninformed, so many German gamblers opt to make a home in Austria because gambling is legal there and is very widely available throughout the nation, which is not the case with Germany. Ole Schemion is one of Germany’s best card sharks, and he primarily plays in Europe, where he won his first EPT event at age 19. He plays online under the alias wizowizo and has claimed the top spot in multiple famed multi-table tournaments.

3. Dzmitry Urbanovich – Poland

Born in Belarus, Dzmitry Urbanovich moved to Białystok, Poland, during his childhood, where he started playing at seven years old, allegedly inspired by Chris Moneymaker’s shocking 2003 WSOP Main Event triumph. He is the most successful Polish card gambler of all time, raking in more than $6 million in live earnings and a few more million online.

4. Christoph Vogelsang – Germany

At 37, Christoph Vogelsang is one of the older players on this list. Raised in Sassenberg, Münster, North Germany, he now plays out of London, and his total live rewards surpass the $27 million mark.

5. Martin Kabrhel – Czech Republic

Kabrhel is the founder of the Czech esports team Entropiq and is quite the severe poker pro, with career earnings of almost $9.5 million. His other claim to fame is that card gambling sensation Daniel Negreanu has put him at the top of his most minor desirable players to compete against.

6. Vojtech Ruzicka – Czech Republic

Born in Prague, Vojtech Ruzicka started seriously getting into poker at the start of his twenties and almost instantly discovered that he had a knack for the game. In 2016, he took fifth place in that year’s WSOP Main Event and took home more than $4 million in cash games and tournaments. Ruzicka is still super active, chiefly on the European circuit, but also makes frequent trips to the US.

7. Thomas Muehloecker – Austria

Thomas Ryō Mühlöcker grew up in Vienna as a son of an Austrian father and a Japanese mother. He studied Economics and Business at Vienna University and was deep into the Chinese martial art Wushu before turning to poker. Thomas won the European Poker Tour (High Roller) in 2013 and has live earnings of over $8 million, which makes him the second most successful Austrian player ever.

8. Linus Loeliger – Switzerland

Linus specializes in No Limit Texas Holdem enjoyed at poker sites, in which he has won over $2 million at gambling platforms on top of his $7 million in live earnings. Given his vast experience playing on the Web, Loeliger is open about sharing tips to play online at a high level.

9. Piotr Nurzynski – Poland

Piotr is a Pole who works as a doctor and loves to surf. He has been playing actively in live tournaments since 2017, and just one year into his pro career, he won the European Poker Tour Main Event in Barcelona and snagged the 61st place in the Main Event of the World Series of Poker Europe.

10. Jan Bendik – Slovakia

Bendik is the only Slovak player in this article. And in 2016, he won a cool million at No Limit Holdem at the Monte Carlo Bay Resort, representing a third of his overall career winnings.

Headed by Kafkadesk's chief-editor Jules Eisenchteter, our Prague office gathers over half a dozen reporters, editors and contributors, as well as our social media team. It covers everything Czech and Slovak-related, and oversees operations from our other Central European desks in Krakow and Budapest.