With the poker world filled with brash players, a quiet, reserved player is a breath of fresh air. In today’s player profile, we’ll cover Allen Cunningham, one player that prefers to stay out of the spotlight, silently and consistently scoring high in every tournament he participates in.

Player Overview

Allen Cunningham is an American professional poker player known for his tournament career. He has over $11.9 million in tournament earnings, putting him in the top 100 highest-earning poker pros of all time.

Cunningham also has earned numerous other awards, including five WSOP bracelets. He shares the record for most WSOP Main Event cashes at 10, tied with Berry Johnston and Johnny Chan. He also won the WSOP Player of the Year award in 2005 and ALL IN Magazine’s Player of the Year in 2006. 

Outside of the WSOP, Cunningham has made two World Poker Tour (WPT) final tables and was voted by other pros as the Best All Around Player under 35. 

At the table, Cunningham is known for his sharp, analytical playstyle. His style is even more intimidating when combined with his calm and reserved demeanor. He never stands out until he’s at the top, consistently scoring in nearly every tournament he plays, thanks to his resilience and discipline.

Early Life

Allen Cunningham was born in Riverside, California, on March 28, 1977. He learned poker from his family, often playing home games with them around the kitchen table. He realized his talent for card games very early on and was soon hungry for the chance to test his skills at a real casino. Cunningham’s dreams would have to wait a few years until he became of legal gambling age in America. 

Allen attended the University of California, Los Angeles, aiming for a degree in civil engineering. Soon, his focus shifted from studies to the poker table. Using the money from a part-time job as a delivery boy, he began playing poker at tribal casinos where the age regulations were lower. Focusing on low-stakes cash games and freeroll tournaments, he steadily built his bankroll while playing poker as a hobby.

In Cunningham’s second year of college, he went on a roll. After several consecutive wins, he upped his stakes, playing $10/$20 cash games and was playing poker as a full time profession at just 19. While doing remarkably well, he couldn’t surpass his biggest hurdle: Age. Still with two years short of being able to play at non-tribal casinos with bigger tournaments, all he could do was wait.

Early Career

At 21, Cunningham wasted no time jumping into the poker scene. He started slow, with no major wins in his first year of playing. He spent most of his time with players like Daniel Negreanu, Phil Ivey, and John Juanda, who would all become huge names in the poker world. The players frequently practiced against each other and talked strategy, improving through collaboration and competition. 

In his second year, Cunningham began hitting his stride. At the 1999 Legends of Poker Series, he finished top ten in six tournaments, winning two. This gave him a sizable bankroll boost and lit the spark for his future tournament success. 

Four months later, Cunningham debuted at the US Poker Championships, winning the Seven Card Stud event and finishing third in the $1,000 No Limit Hold’em event. 

A year later, Cunningham cashed in five different WSOP events, finishing in the top 20 in each of them. His biggest score that year was $113,850 from the $5,100 Limit Omaha Hi/Lo event.

Bracelets Galore

In 2001, Cunningham worked through many small tournaments, winning a Pot Limit Hold’em event at the LA Poker Classic for $31,265. He cashed four times in that year’s WSOP, taking home his first bracelet and $201,760 from the $5,150 Seven Card Stud event. This bracelet win put Cunningham on many peoples’ radars, and he continued to build his impressive resume with a second bracelet the following year. He won the $5,000 No Limit Deuce to Seven Draw event for $160,200.

After coming close in 2003, Cunningham scored his third bracelet in $1,500 No-Limit Hold’em, earning a massive $725,405 to boot. The final table was immensely stacked, with players like David “Devilfish” Ulliot, Liz Lieu, and Scott Fischman vying for the win. 

In 2006, Cunningham had his best WSOP run yet. He claimed his fourth bracelet at the $1,000 No Limit Hold’em event, winning $625,830. In the Main Event – the largest WSOP Main Event ever recorded, with 8,773 participants – Cunningham made it all the way to fourth, claiming $3,628,513 for his largest tournament cash to date. 

Cunningham’s fifth bracelet came a year later in the $5,000 World Championship Pot Limit Hold’em event for $487,287. 

Outside of the WSOP, Cunningham has had impressive showings on Poker After Dark,  winning the $50,000 Week 8 – Mega Match for $300,000. He also won $500,000 in the Doubles Poker Championship, partnering with fellow pro, Huck Seed.