#21 - Allen Cunningham

The 40th Annual World Series of Poker is only weeks away. Between now and the start of the Main Event BluffMagazine.com will be presenting the 40 Greatest Champions in WSOP history exclusively on WorldSeriesofPoker.com.

Allen Cunningham may not have the rock star image that many players from his generation try to portray, but with his results he could headline Madison Square Garden.  The fact that most casual fans know him more from his 2006 Main Event run where he busted out in fourth place rather than his five bracelets that he has won is very telling about the introverted and often media-shy player.  Cunningham entered the Final Table second in chips to Jamie Gold but could never quite dominate the table like he wished.  Only a player like Cunningham could view the fourth place finish and $3.6 million payday in the largest live tournament in history as a disappointment. 

Cunningham, the 2005 WSOP Player of the Year, has had two other deep runs in the Main Event; a 27th place finish in 2001 and 117th in 2008.  His large buy-in tournament play has made him a recognizable force at the tables.  Three of his bracelets were won in 5k buy-in events;  2001 Seven Card Stud, 2002 Deuce to Seven Draw, and 2007 Pot Limit Hold ‘Em.  He has final tabled 20 different WSOP and WSOP Circuit events, more importantly 12 of those 20 final tables came in events that had at least a 5k buy-in.  Cunningham’s other two bracelets came playing No Limit Hold ‘Em in 2005 and 2006.  He also has a WSOP Circuit win in 2008 at the Caesar’s Palace Las Vegas stop.

Cunningham’s combined WSOP and WSOP Circuit cashes top out at over $7 million.  He has won more WSOP prize money than any other multiple bracelet winner in history, edging out Phil Hellmuth by more than $1 million.

Cunningham was a 19 year-old drop out from UCLA when he turned his poker hobby into his profession.  For two years he had to play at Indian casinos sharpening his game before he could join the real action joining the tournament trail.  Finding success was hard at first but it was during this period he befriended Phil Ivey, Daniel Negreanu, and John Juanda, forming a brain trust of poker minds that hadn’t been seen since Doyle Brunson, Amarillo Slim, and Sailor Roberts traveled around Texas forming strategies that would change the game.  Cunningham and company have reshaped the poker world in their image in the wake of their massive success.