The 10 Biggest Poker Players In Silicon Valley

Poker chip pullEthan Miller/Getty ImagesIn general, good businessmen are good poker players.

Poker is a game that involves quick decision-making, risk-taking, and bluffing, among other things.

It’s why so many Wall Street investors, from Carl Icahn to David Einhorn, love playing it.

And it’s no different in the highly competitive, risk-taking culture of Silicon Valley.

In fact, some of the top Silicon Valley entrepreneurs and investors are so obsessed with it, they even have their own poker nights almost every month.

Generally, good businessmen are good poker players. It’s no surprise that so many business leaders in Silicon Valley are obsessed with poker.

Chamath Palihapitiya (Social+Capital founder)

Social Capital founder Chamath Palihapitiya

Chamath Palihapitiya is known as one of the most hardcore poker players in the Valley. He's played in several World Series of Poker events, and finished 101st out of more than 7,000 contestants in 2011.

He also hosts monthly poker nights at his home in Palo Alto, inviting other tech entrepreneurs like David Sacks and Dave Goldberg.

David Sacks (Yammer founder)

Yammer founder David Sacks

David Sacks has also played in the World Series of Poker, and alongside Palihapitiya, is frequently mentioned as the top poker player in Silicon Valley. In a past interview, Sacks said he doesn't believe in hobbies, but likes to play poker.

He often plays with professional poker player Phil Hellmuth, too. 'I'm not in the same league as (Phil Hellmuth), but I'm not a donkey,' he said in a past interview.

Jason Calacanis ( founder) and Mahalo founder Jason Calacanis

Jason Calacanis isn't afraid to talk about his pokerbobsession, and said in a previous interview that he was 'absolutely addicted' to it at one point. He's a serious poker player and was sponsored by FullTiltPoker when he played in the World Series of Poker for the first time in 2009.

He's so into the game that he even thinks of his company like it's part of the game. 'Risk-taking is my thing … I think of my company as my chip stack,' he told PokerListings.

Dave Goldberg (SurveyMonkey CEO)

SurveyMonkey CEO Dave Goldberg

Another frequently mentioned name among the Valley tech leaders is SurveyMonkey's Dave Goldberg.

He's played in a number of big-time poker tournaments and is known for being a highly skilled poker player. He once told Bloomberg, 'Some of us are not the world's greatest athletes. But you can become a pretty good poker player.'

Phil Hellmuth (professional poker player)

Professional poker player Phil Hellmuth

Phil Hellmuth is one of the best professional poker players in the world, so he probably doesn't belong on a list of amateur players. But he lives in Palo Alto and is good friends with a lot of Silicon Valley entrepreneurs. He even gets invited to many private poker games with them.

He told Business Insider that their level of play is so high he was only able to break-even in the first three years playing with them. 'There's a reason these guys made so much money in the real world. Those skills translate to poker,' he said.

Roger Sippl (Informix founder)

Informix founder Roger Sippl

With over 30 years of experience in technology, Roger Sippl is a living legend in Silicon Valley.

He's also played in some of the biggest poker games in the world, travelling as far as Macau to play in professional tournaments.

He's been playing poker for a long time, he says. 'I've been playing since I was in my high chair. My grandmother taught me how to play and would deal to me and used to hand out pennies to everyone, but would win them back before dinner,' he told

Sky Dayton (Earthlink founder)

Earthlink founder Sky Dayton

Sky Dayton is a serial entrepreneur who's founded a number of different companies, including Earthlink and In aggregate, all the companies he's founded are valued at nearly $US3 billion.

He's also known as a huge poker fan. Hellmuth says Dayton is a 'fabulous' player and has won the most chips in the past two years at Palihapitiya's home poker games.

Rick Thompson (Playdom founder)

Playdom founder Rick Thompson

Rick Thompson cofounded Playdom, a social game company that was sold to Disney for over $US763 million, and is now a VC at Signia Ventures.

He's been called a 'remarkable' poker who no one should play against. He played in the World Series of Poker for four years. He even says his life-defining moment happened over a game of poker.

David Lee (Golden State Warriors)

Golden State Warriors' David Lee

David Lee is a professional basketball player, but he's also known for being a big poker fan. He was once spotted staying up till 4:30 a.m. to watch Hellmuth play at a casino.

In fact, he's so into poker that his fiancé is Sabina Gadecki, the host of Travel Channel's World Poker Tour TV show.

Now that you've seen the best poker players in Silicon Valley ...

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