The World Series of Poker 2009 will come to an end this Wednesday, July 15th, awarding it’s winner a multi-million dollar paycheck.  Since the WSOP saw it’s emergence as a big-media event in this decade, the purse money has climbed upwards of $12 million for one winner.  So which savvy poker stars have taken home this swelling prize in recent years?  And in the competition’s history, who are it’s biggest winners?  Here is a list of the five poker stars who have taken home the most winnings from the biggest even in the world of poker.

5. Greg Raymer – $5 million


Known as the “Fossilman,” 2004 champion Greg Raymer got his start picking up games at a Connecticut hotel/casino while working as a patent attorney for pharmaceutical giant Pfizer. A chemistry major in college, Raymer’s nerd-dom extended to the poker table early during early matches during which he would reportedly sell fossils from his collection to other players to pad his bankroll. He’s also known for wearing really creepy holographic glasses. In the final hand of the 2004 tourney, Raymer defeated Texas magician David Williams and walked with $5 million. [pic via]

Name: Greg Raymer
Age: 45
Hometown: Raleigh, N.C.
Year of tournament: 2004
Winnings: $5,000,000
Runner-up: David Williams

4. Joe Hachem – $7.5 million


Born in Lebanon, Joe Hachem was a successful Australian chiropractor before a rare blood disorder forced him to retire his professional hands for a career as a mortgage broker and poker hobbyist. Eventually, Hachem’s passion for cards consumed him and a small win at a 2005 tourney gave him the $10,000 needed to buy into that year’s World Series event, where he didn’t take a chip lead until the 5,600 other players had been whittled down to just three. In the final round, Hachem moved all-in on Maryland’s Steve Dannenmann, who hoped a 7-card would tie his opponent’s straight. The river washed a 4-of-clubs, drowning Dannenmann and Hachem floated away with $7.5 million. [pic via]

Name: Joe Hachem
Age: 42
Hometown: Melbourne, Australia
Year of tournament: 2005
Winnings: $7,500,000
Runner-up: Steve Dannenmann

3. Jerry Yang – $8.3 million


The 2007 World Series champion, Xao “Jerry” Yang, won the tournament just two years after he picked up the game. Born in Laos,  Yang and his family escaped the country during the 1970 communist takeover, fleeing to Thailand, where they spent years in a refugee camp. Yang has a master’s in health psychology and served as a social worker and a therapist. Using an aggressive strategy, Yang’s final tourney battle with Vietnamese-Canadian Tuan Lam lasted 12 hours. Yang won $8.2 million and split 10 percent of his earnings between several charities and Loma Linda University, his alma matter. [pic via]

Name: Xao “Jerry” Yang
Age: 40
Hometown: Temecula, Calif.
Year of tournament: 2007
Winnings: $8,250,000
Runner-up: Tuam Lam

2. Peter Eastgate – $9.2 million


A finance dropout from Aarhus University, London-based Peter Eastgate qualified for the 2008 World Series through wins on a British Internet gaming site finishing in the top 30 in the pokerstars tournament. He hit the final table with $18,375,000 in chips and in the end, faced off against Moscow’s Ivan Demidov with $120.4 million stack. The final table lasted through two grueling days and 274 hands, which totaled more than 15 hours of game play. Eastgate, then 22, left with $9,152,416 as the youngest series champion so far. [pic via]

Name: Peter Eastgate
Age: 23
Hometown: London
Year of tournament: 2008
Winnings: $9,152,416
Runner-up: Ivan Demidov:

1. Jamie Gold – $12 million


A Hollywood talent agent-turned card star, Jamie Gold is the biggest World Series winner to date. As a teenager, Gold interned at J. Michael Bloom & Associatesa well-known talent agency, where he became an agent before he was of legal drinking age. Gold, along with agent powerhouse Ari Emanuel, is rumored to have inspired the “Entourage” character Ari Gold. Born by a poker-playing mother, Gold’s grandpa was a gin rummy champ, but the talent agent didn’t get serious about his game until he started working on a television project with card legends Johnny Chan and Chris Moneymaker. In the 2006 World Series, Gold survived 8,772 other players to make the final table, where he squared off against Texas young gun Paul Wasicka. He drew fire for his fast and loose table style, which he filled with “table talk,” occasionally sharing his hand and position with other players. His $12,100,00 live win made Gold the first player to win over $10 million in a tournament. [pic via]

Name: Jamie Gold
Age: 39
Hometown: Malibu, Calif.
Year of tournament: 2006
Winnings: $12,100,000
Runner-up: Paul Wasicka

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Thanks for reading, StyleCravers, Diggers, Stumblers and more.  So how much have you taken home in a poker tournament?  How much have you lost?  When it comes to poker, who is your favorite professional player?  How silly are Greg Raymer’s sunglasses?  Join us in the comments, leave your thoughts– we’d love to read them!