Who Are the All-Time Leaders in Poker in Europe, Part 3: Southern Europe

With the shutdown in tournament poker due to the COVID-19 outbreak, many of the all-time money earner lists have also paused as there aren’t any new tournaments to add to the totals. Prior to this, we’ve looked at the Scandinavian nations and the countries that make up most of what is called Northern Europe. In this part of our examination, we’re going to look at some of the countries that make up Southern Europe, which includes several countries that excitedly embrace poker as a game.

Portugal Features Close Race, Spain Not So Much

In Portugal, the race is a tight one between the top five all-time money leaders. Only about $2 million separate the first place Joao Vieira from fifth place Fernando Antonion Fontoura Brito, so a big win or a strong year out of Brito would see him surge up the leaderboard and potentially take over the lead over his countrymen. A fantastic run for tenth place Jose Quintas, who is less than a million behind Brito, could see massive shifts on the Portuguese board.

Here are the Top Five all-time leading money winners from the country of Portugal:

1. Joao Vieira, $3,810,654
2. Pedro Marques, $2,324,479
3. Diogo Veiga, $2,151,333
4. Joao Barbosa, $2,006,044
5. Fernando Antonio Fontoura Brito, $1,976,520

There is no secret that poker is big in Spain, probably because of one man – former World Champion Carlos Mortensen. For many years, Mortensen was the all-time leader in earnings by players from Spain, but the plethora of “high roller” events over the past five years have resulted in a “young gun” taking over the lead. One thing is for sure: the top three players on Spain’s leaderboard are going to be entrenched for some time:

1. Adrian Mateos, $21,384,435
2. Carlos Mortensen, $12,106,336
3. Sergio Aido, $11,794,333
4. Sergi Reixach, $5680,646
5. Ramon Colillas, $5,213,637

Moving over to Switzerland, there are many names that might not be familiar to many in the poker world. But the man at the top, Besim Hot, has earned his place on the top of the Swiss poker world. His bracelet win in the 2019 World Series of Poker Europe’s €25,000 Mixed Game Championship earned him the bulk of his career earnings, but he’s got some other impressive stats on his Hendon Mob record. Here’s the rundown of the Top Five players on the Swiss leaderboard – and note that it is incredibly close!

1. Besim Hot, $2,252,427
2. Linus Loeliger, $1,864,992
3. Claudio Rinaldi, $1,705,930
4. Chris Bigler, $1,430,068
5. Sam El Sayed, $1,245,388

Legends Appear on Austrian, Italian Rankings

In Austria, there used to be only one figure, one player who was carrying the banner for the nation, Ivo Donev. Donev, whose first cash in tournament poker dates to 1999, for years was at the top of the ratings for Austrian poker players until the “big money” in poker took over the past decade or so. Now, he’s still in the Top Five, but he’s going to have to work hard to get back into the position he once held.

Here’s the list of the Top Five players in the history of Austrian poker:

1. Matthias Eibinger, $10,376,474
2. Thomas Muhlocker, $7,545,334
3. Ivo Donev, $2,251,881
4. Gerald Karlic, $1,856,931
5. Stefan Jedlicka, $1,839,607

Italy has much the same situation as Austria. For many years, “The Italian Pirate,” Max Pescatori, used to reign supreme over his fellow Italians, but in arguably one swoop a player went by him and took the top rung of the ladder. Although he had some other success, Dario Sammartino’s run at the 2019 WSOP – in both the Las Vegas Championship Event and the WSOPE in Rozvadov, where he finished second and fourth, respectively – earned him more in two tournaments than Pescatori has earned in his career. Welcome to the reality of 21st century poker!

Here’s the rankings for the Top Five Italian poker players of all time:

1.Dario Sammartino, $14,573,847
2. Mustapha Kanit, $11,566,695
3. Max Pescatori, $4,620,849
4. Filippo Candio, $3,498,970
5. Salvatore Bonavena, $3,134,527

While the names might not jump out as some of the biggest in the game, the players who compose the Top Five players in Greece have played some pretty damn good poker. The leader on the Greek board, Alexandros Kolonias, would be in the Top Ten rankings of many nations, meaning that there are some competitive players that come from Greece. And the battle for the top slot in the country is one that will be going on for some time:

1.Alexandros Kolonias, $3,729,556
2. Georgios Sotiropoulos, $2,818,178
3. Ioannis Angelou-Konstas, $2,645,790
4. Georgios Zisimopoulos, $2,245,973
5. Sotirios Koutoupas, $2,062,574

We’ve got a couple more parts to go in Europe before we move on. Up next we will take a look at the nations of Eastern Europe, which should prove to be an interesting group of nations, before we’ll examine some of the other countries in Europe that we didn’t put in a particular regional part we’ve previously done. It is an interesting experiment as we find out how each country’s Top Five looks at a moment in poker history.

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