With the shutdown in tournament poker due to the COVID-19 outbreak, many of the all-time money earner lists have also paused as there aren’t any new tournaments to add to the totals. At the end of last week, we started looking at who leads the rankings for the countries in North America. As we continue this series, this time around we’re going to look at Central America and the Caribbean – which present some surprises along the way!

How Many Central American Nations HAVE a Ranking?

Perhaps one of the most surprising things about this exercise is that, of the seven nations that make up Central America, only TWO of them have verifiable rankings (courtesy of The Hendon Mob database). Belize, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua do not have any charting players, at least according to the Hendon Mob. Only Costa Rica and Panama have qualifying players.

In Costa Rica, you can probably guess who is at the top of the heap. Even after all these years, veteran pro Humberto Brenes is still at the top of the ladder for the nation. In fact, the Brenes brothers make up three-fifths of the Top Five from the country, with only one of them below a million in career earnings. Here’s the Top Five as of 2020 from the nation of Costa Rica:

1. Humberto Brenes, $6,168,628
2. Max Stern, $1,482,946
3. Alex Brenes, $1,378,668
4. Eric Brenes, $1,094,187
5. Jose Rosenkrantz, $818,079

Panama is the only other Central American country to have a ranking on the Hendon Mob board. A total of 151 players have earned a spot in Panamanian history by making this board, but here’s the Top Five players who have a tenuous spot on top of the rankings:

1. Bolivar Palacios, $1,061,826
2. Jose Severino, $770,068
3. Victor Lemos, $303,876
4. Raul Pino, $257,473
5. Jose Miguel de la Guardia, $208,279

Lot of Countries in the Caribbean, Few Results

Here’s a geography lesson for you today. The Caribbean has 31 countries in it; how many of those countries have a USEFUL ranking in the world of poker? Perhaps not surprisingly (some of the countries are exceedingly small), only a handful have players who are ranked by The Hendon Mob.

Of the countries in the Caribbean, four of them – Aruba, the Bahamas (technically outside the Caribbean, but close enough for our work here), Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago and Turks and Caicos – barely have enough players to compile a Top Five list (Guyana has only one qualifying player), so we’re going to bypass them. There are 25 countries that don’t have a listing at all! With this in mind, we’ll focus on two countries that were able to have larger player lists and compile a decent Top Five – Jamaica and Puerto Rico.

For Jamaica, the top three are close together before there is a HUGE drop off. Here’s a look at the Top Five players in the history of Jamaican poker:

1. Emile John Schiff, $425,765
2. Alexander Haber, $356,779
3. Gautam Lillaney, $285,460
4. Seymour Ogeare, $71,543
5. Rory Chinn, $44,610

Island-hopping over to Puerto Rico, we find one of the few poker millionaires in the Caribbean. Victor Figueroa, who is a veteran of the Florida poker battlegrounds, is the only Puerto Rican player to have compiled over a million in career earnings. Here’s the Top Five for Puerto Rico, headed by Figueroa:

1. Victor Figueroa, $1,102,232
2. Kario Lopez, $754,987
3. Luis Vazquez, $727,004
4. Ricardo Velasco, $209,019
5. Jose Guzman, $175,304

Now that we’ve wrapped up the Caribbean and Central America, it’s time to head for South America! In the next part of this series, we’ll head “south of the equator” to find out who the all-time leaders are in South America. Following that, it will be time to hop a flight to what should be one of the big battlegrounds of poker – Europe!

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