Much of poker's regular headlines and accolades come from the world of tournaments. Events like the World Series of Poker and World Poker Tour offer the chance to win huge sums, life-changing money.
But some of the most skilled players compete daily in high stakes cash games.
Some of these games see hundreds of thousands of dollars change hands, on a given night. It takes plenty of skill and a big bankroll to play at this level.
Here’s a quick look at seven of the biggest poker cash games in the world.
Table of Contents
1 – The Big Game
- Location: Bellagio, Las Vegas
- Stakes: $800/$1,600 and up
- Games: Mixed games
- Players: Doyle Brunson, Patrik Antonius, Eli Elezra, Gus Hansen, and more
When many think of high stakes cash games, “Bobby’s Room” at the Bellagio comes to mind. The room’s name was changed in 2020 to the “Legends Room,” but plenty of big money action remains.
The stakes can climb as high as $4,000/$8,000, and it remains one of the biggest cash games in the world.
The roster includes regulars (such as Brunson) with players like Tom Dwan and others jumping in the action.
Games can range from Texas Hold’em to more obscure games like Ace to Five Triple Draw. The usual buy-in for a night of action in the room is in the range of $200,000 and up.
In this video clip, Daniel Negreanu gives players an inside look into the game.
2 – Triton Cash Game Series
- Location: London, Montenegro
- Stakes: £1,000/£2,000 and up
- Games: No-Limit Texas Hold’em
- Players: Tom Dwan, Elton Tsang, Paul Phua, and others
The Triton Poker Series has become a leader in offering massive buy-in tournament events for high stakes players. The series produces tournaments from exotic locations and casinos around the world.
In recent years, Triton has also thrown in some massive cash games, all televised and streamed for poker fans at home. The cash games have featured some of the biggest pots ever recorded in recent years.
For example, in 2019, Tony G and Mikita Badziakouski became involved in a huge hand. After landing top pair, Tony bet the action all the way through the river. But Badziakouski made a massive raise to put Tony to the test.
The result was a €1.1 million pot, typifying the nosebleed level action in these cash games.
3 – Macau Cash Games
- Location: Macau, China
- Stakes: $4,000/$8,000 and up
- Games: No-Limit Hold’em
- Players: Tom Dwan, Phil Ivey, and other pros as well as wealthy businessmen
These games came to light in the mid-2010s. Players like Tom Dwan and Phil Ivey regularly head to southeast Asia for high-stakes poker action.
The games feature a mix of pros and wealthy businesspeople, with the Poker King Club at Venetian Macau serving as the host venue for most games.
In 2014, poker pro, Tom Hall, noted that the game regularly featured up to $20 million on the table. Many of those non-pros taking the table are part of gambling junkets from China. These games consistently feature some of the wealthiest players in the world.
Hall told PokerNews that the largest win he’d seen in the game was about $12.8 million over a 30- or 40-hour session. While some might think that the pros in these high-stakes games come out as big winners, that's not always the case.
“Without a doubt, the single biggest winner in live table poker of all time is one of the big game players who plays the Macau game regularly and some of the other big private games around the region,” Hall said. “This is not one of the established pros, but any of the pros that play regularly will know who it is.”
4 – High Stakes Poker
- Location: Las Vegas
- Stakes: $400/$800 and up
- Games: No Limit Hold’em
- Players: Doyle Brunson, Jean-Robert Bellande, Phil Ivey, and many others
The PokerGO streaming service relaunched this popular show in 2020. High Stakes Poker originally debuted in 2006 on GSN (Game Show Network). It and ran until 2011.
The show was immensely popular with poker fans because it got inside the then-unknown world of high stakes poker.
- Viewers got a behind-the-scenes look at massive action among players like Brunson, Antonio Esfandiari, Tom Dwan, and others.
Seeing bricks of cash tossed into the pot made for great visuals. It put into perspective the vast amounts of money these players had on the line.
The new version features a buy-in of at least $200,000. It has featured players like Bellande, Bryn Kenney, Rick Salomon, Dwan, Nick Petrangelo, and others.
PokerGO Studio in Las Vegas now hosts the game.
5 – Aria Cash Games
- Location: Las Vegas
- Stakes: $200/$400, $300/$600 and up
- Games: Mixed games, PLO
- Players: Varies
The Aria has seen its share of high stakes cash games in recent years. The property is known for high roller tournaments and hosting big money games in the PokerGO Studio, located not far from the poker room.
The property’s high stakes area was formerly known as “The Ivey Room.” But after some legal issues between Phil Ivey and the casino’s owner, MGM Resorts changed the name to “Table 1” in 2019.
The room regularly features high stakes action, although action at ginormous levels varies. The venue offers a great poker environment and has become one of the most popular poker rooms in Las Vegas.
6 – Andy Beal Heads-Up Matchups
- Location: Las Vegas
- Stakes: Up to $100,000/$200,000
- Games: Limit Hold’em
- Players: Andy Beal, Doyle Brunson, Chip Reese, Howard Lederer, Jennifer Harman, Todd Brunson, Ted Forrest, and others
This game isn’t open to the general public – it’s not even running anymore. But it is worth mentioning as one of the best-known high stakes cash game events ever. The Andy Beal Cash Games took place at Bellagio and Wynn from 2001-04.
- These enormous money games pitted Dallas-based banker and billionaire Andy Beal against some of the biggest named pros in the game.
Beal preferred playing heads-up Limit Hold’em and was looking to play at the highest levels imaginable.
He found competition in a group of players in Las Vegas, including the following:
- Doyle Brunson
- Chip Reese
- Howard Lederer
- Jennifer Harman
- Phil Ivey, and others
The group of players pooled their funds to play at such elevated levels and became known as the Corporation.
- Beal wasn’t an easy mark and proved to be an excellent heads-up player.
- The battles included Beal winning the largest single cash game hand in history when he raked an $11.7 million pot.
The Corporation eventually came out ahead. Michael Craig documents the entire story in his book:
- The Professor, the Banker, and the Suicide King: Inside the Richest Poker Game of All Time.
7 – Hollywood Home Games
- Location: Los Angeles, New York
- Stakes: $100/$200 to $500/$1,000
- Games: No Limit Hold’em
- Players: Tobey Maguire, Ben Affleck, Leonardo DiCaprio, Nick Cassavetes, Jamie Gold, Rick Salomon, Phil Ivey, Matt Damon, and more
Anyone who’s read the book or seen the film Molly’s Game knows about these underground events. Molly Bloom hosted these star-studded games, which featured the biggest names in Hollywood.
Ten of thousands of dollars could change hands as poker pros rubbed elbows with celebs at the tables. The game began in the Viper Room in L.A. and moved on to various hotels.
Bloom later moved some of her games to New York, where federal law enforcement eventually shut her down in 2013.
The feds charged her and others with money laundering.
But Bloom eventually pleaded guilty to a lesser charge and served a year of probation.
The game shows that large cash games aren’t always at casinos and other well-known venues.
Underground games away from prying eyes remain a major part of poker, and these games are sometimes high stakes.
There’s just something about playing for massive sums of money that intrigues poker fans. The Legends Room is a popular stop for players heading to Las Vegas and hoping to see big names playing.
Most players won’t ever play high stakes poker, and the thought of having so much money on the line is hard to imagine.
But following the action and viewing these games on TV remains popular with poker fans around the world.