If you examine the poker playing world closely, it’s really a big game of king of the hill. Players look to beat their opponents so they can move further up the hill until they reach the ultimate pinnacles of the game. With the constant advancements and evolution of the game, the underlying landscape of poker is shifting. Those players that made it to the top must continually work on their game and produce results or see themselves dethroned. There is always someone younger and hungrier who wants to unseat you. They are willing to work harder and sacrifice more to gain new as yet unseen heights.

With that constant competitive environment in poker, there is often talk and speculation of who is the next big thing. Who will be tomorrow’s stars? Fans and followers like to predict and project future success. But those predictions can often go astray. For instance, in December of 2004, the World Poker Tour organized a special event called the WPT Young Guns of Poker. They identified six players who had experienced early success and who they felt would go on to greatness in the poker world. The six were David Williams, Thomas ‘Thunder’ Keller, Joe Cassidy, Scott Fischman, Pete Lawson, and John D’Agostino. Of those six, only David Williams could be considered to have lived up to his potential having won the WPT championship and other scores, but even his results have been uneven. The others, while generally considered respected poker pros, have never reached the level of success they did early in their careers.

Thus it is a tricky situation to try to predict who will become future great players. The only thing you can base your prediction is on their past results and apparent drive to make it big in the game.

Tournament Players

There is so much variance in tournament poker that it can be hard to predict players who will be future stars. They tend to run hot and cold. I have included four predominately live and four online poker tournament specialists who could become the next superstars in the game in the coming years.

Andrey Pateychuk is a young Russian poker pro from Moscow. He has been on a dream ride in the last few months in the European live tournament scene. First he won the October San Remo European Poker Tournament defeating 836 players to win $937k and then followed it up with a win in the early December World Poker Tour Prague event for another $600k. For a player with relatively little experience, he has a knack for closing out big tournaments and seems poised to make a big name for himself.

Steve O’Dwyer is a respected American tournament pro in his mid-twenties who has seen his results explode with consistently deep runs and big scores after breaking through with a win at the $5k Bellagio Cup VII in July for $259k. Over the last four months he has torched the European poker tournament scene for nearly another $1 million while taking three seconds, two fifths, a sixth and tenth place. The former Las Vegas pro will relocate outside the U.S. when not traveling the circuit so he can pursue his online tournament play.

Roberto Romanello is a poker pro from Gorseinon, Wales who has built up a reputation as one of the most consistent and steady poker players in Europe. Over the last three years he has won over $2 million on the EPT and European WPT circuit. He consistently finishes deep in tournaments and has won several side events and sizable tournaments in 2010 and 2011.

Melanie “Callisto5” Weisner is a 25-year-old American poker pro. She earned over $400k in online tournament winnings while completing her NYU education far surpassing her brother’s results who introduced poker to her. Since 2009, she has focused on the live tournament scene, while continuing to specialize in heads-up sit and go’s online. She has added roughly $400k in live tournament winnings in her first couple years on the tournament circuit.

Mike “telks” Telker is a young American pro now living in Limassol, Cyprus. He recently surged into the number one tournament ranking in the world in 2011 on PocketFives playing mainly under his PokerStars “munchenHB” account. He has over $3.2 million in online tournament earnings which include both his massive scores for winning FTOP Event #27 in February 2011 for $408k and his September 2011 WCOOP event #42 win for $353k. He plays a high volume of tournaments and has several roughly $50k scores in addition.

Bryan “theczar19” Piccioli is a young American poker player who relocated to San Lucas, Mexico
in the wake of Black Friday to maintain his poker tournament grinding. He is currently ranked second in the world by PocketFives. His biggest score was a second place finish in the two day FTOPS Event #40 in May, 2011 for $282k.

Bjorn “kleath” Kleathersson is an American poker player who relocated to Malta to continue playing online tournaments. He has quietly accumulated over $3.5 million in winnings over the last few years from online tournament play. His biggest score was $191k in a 2010 FTOPS event. He is currently ranked the fifth best online tournament player in the world. He is poised to make a big name for himself if his live results begin to follow after his online results.

Mohsin “Chicagocards1” Charania is an American poker pro who is currently located in Toronto, Canada who specializes in tournament poker. Over the last four years he has accumulated over $475k in live tournament earnings and over $4 million in online tournament winnings. He lived in a serious poker group house with the likes of Faraz “The Toilet” Jaka, Ravi “govshark2” Raghaven and Andy “BKiCe” Seth and seems poised to be the next start to emerge from that group.

Cash Game Players

I created a separate category for cash game specialists. These promising eight poker players regularly battle for huge sums online in the ultra competitive NLHE and PLO tables. Interestingly, quite a few of this new generation of player got their start in the gaming world before going on to success in the poker world. They all show promise to join the established elite of the game if they can sustain their drive and focus.

Jens “Jeans89” Kyllonen is a 21-year-old Finnish poker pro that follows in the long line of top cash game stars to emerge from that Nordic country (e.g. Patrik Antonius, Ilari Sahamies, Sami Kelopuro, Jani Vilmunen). He has surged to impressive $1.4 million in winnings in 2011 in the high stakes games on PokerStars.

Davin “mTw-DaviN” Georgi is a 25 year old German poker pro. He transitioned from being a professional Warcraft III player to become a high stakes PLO player. He has had a swingy 2011, but is currently up $400k over the latter half of the year.

Benny “toweliestar” Spindler is a 25-year-old German poker pro who has had tremendous success in tournaments having won over $1.6 million in 2009 with over $3 million in career tournament winning. In 2011 he has concentrated more on his Pot Limit Omaha cash game going on a tear in the second half of 2011 to be up around $1 million on PokerStars. Interestingly, he also came from the StarCraft world.

Alexey “LuckyGump” Makarov has a reputation as a futuristic and innovative poker player willing to try anything to succeed at the game by keeping you off balance. He surged to a $700k profit early in 2011, only to see it all disappear toward a break even year of 2011. He is poised to make a big splash in 2012.

Martin “alexeimartov” Bradstreet is a mid-twenties Australian online high stakes pro who also came into the poker world after watching fellow StarCraft have considerable success in poker. He is well known on poker forums as MagicNinja. After several years of success and teaching at DeucesCracked training site, he established himself on the high stakes scene in 2011 by winning nearly a million dollars over the last six months of the year.

Gavin “gavz101” Cochrane is a 23-year-old English poker pro who initially made a splash by simultaneously final tabling two SCOOP PLO events last May. He is a graduate in Neuroscience from a London university and seems determined to apply his advanced theorems on conquering the heights of the poker world. He is well on his way having recorded over $1.1 million in winnings in 2011.

Terje “Terken89” Augdal is a 21-year-old Norwegian poker pro who has stormed onto the high stakes scene in 2008, quickly winning $1 million over that year, but he disappeared to the relative anonymity of European sites and only in 2011 has resurfaced again recover from an initial big downswing to return to positive winning territory in 2011.

Florian “FA_Morgoth” Langmann is a 28-year-old German poker pro who previously excelled as a StarCraft player before establishing himself as a poker tournament specialist with roughly $2 million in earnings. He recently started to focus on his cash game results.