Black Poker Pros Already Have Made Their Mark: Woo Rates Them

Written by:
Jenny Woo
Published on:
Black Poker Players

As someone who spent a portion of my childhood living in Africa, and as an Asian American, I like so many others in the United States feel so elated by the election of our first African American President.  For the record, since a lot of you are asking, I did vote for Barack Obama.  I'm embarrassed to admit I hadn't voted in years, but felt compelled to do so this time around.  Ever the procrastinator, this is one time I didn't wait.  I was among the million plus in Florida who voted early.

The election of Obama got your girl Jenny reflecting upon our own industry - online gambling and, more specifically - online poker.  How have people of color impacted the game?

"One of the reasons for poker's explosive growth has been the diversity of players that play the game. No longer is poker just a domain of older white western gentlemen," writes Shirley Rosario of

They've done great things.  Below I rank some of the great black poker players.

1.        Phil Ivey - Really, he's like the Tiger Woods of poker (just don't tell that to's own fellow reporter, Tyrone Black)...or maybe even the Barack Obama of poker.  Phil Ivey has won five World Series of Poker bracelets and has a World Poker Tour title, making the final table there a record eight times.  And, yes, I find him absolutely adorable. 

He crafted his game playing skills amongst his co-workers at a New Brunswick, New Jersey telemarketing firm in the late 1990s. One of his nicknames, "No Home Jerome", stems from the ID card he secured to practice in Atlantic City in his teenage years.  Ivey is part of the design team for Full Tilt Poker. He can occasionally be found playing online at Full Tilt, playing high-stakes cash games up to $500-$1000 no-limit and $2000-$4000 limit.  He has stated that he drives a Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren.  As of 2008, his total live tournament winnings exceed $10,000,000.  Ivey resides in Las Vegas with his wife, Luciaetta....DAMN IT!

2.       David Williams - Though he thinks he's white, David Williams is in fact black.  Williams is a professional poker and Magic: The Gathering player.  He's used that magic wand to woo over white grannies in some classic videos I won't delve into here.  Williams was self taught to play no-limit Texas Hold'em tournaments. He was then mentored in poker by Marcel Lüske.

Williams's poker success was capped at the 2004 World Series of Poker where he won his buy-in through an online poker site and made it to the finals of the main event, ultimately finishing second to Greg Raymer, but still winning $3.5 million for the runner-up prize. His second-place finish is the best ever by an African American in a WSOP Main Event, besting Phil Ivey's 10th place finish a year earlier. 

3.       Daniel Negreanu - Four World Series of Poker bracelets and two World Poker Tour Championship titles have helped Daniel Negreanu to become one of the most recognizable faces in all of poker.  While nursing dreams of a career in acting or comedy where he hoped to become the next Eddie Murphy, the 15-year-old Negreanu learned how to play poker. By 16, he was spending time in pool halls hustling.  He once dated a hot Asian, follow poker player Evelyn Ng.  As of 2008, his total live tournament winnings exceed $10,800,000, second on the all time money list behind Jamie Gold.  He is also the leading money winner on the WPT circuit.  While I must confess to liking dark meat, Daniel is a vegan.

4.       Paul Darden - Move over Timberland.  Get out of the way P. Diddy.  Paul Darden, Jr. (born October 27, 1968) is an American professional poker player, rap music promoter, and night club owner from New Haven, Connecticut.  As of 2008, his total live tournament winnings exceed $2,000,000.  Mr. Darden is interested in building his career advancements in television, film and modeling.  I wonder if he likes hot Asian Rednecks.

5.       Mekhi Thira Phifer - A lot of you might know this name.  Mekhi Phifer is one of a number of emerging celebrity poker stars.  He is best known for his role on He is perhaps best known for his role as Dr. Greg Pratt on NBC's long-running medical drama ER and his co-starring role opposite Eminem in 8 Mile.  In fact, Eminem mentions him in his number one song from that same movie, "Lose Yourself".  Phifer was the 2004 winner of the Celebrity Poker Showdown Championship, defeating Neil Patrick Harris during the fourth season. Phifer plays on the World Poker Tour in the Hollywood Home games for the Love Our Children USA charity. 

6.       Barack Obama - How could I leave out the poker playing President-Elect?  I won't.  

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Jenny Woo, Senior Correspondent

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