Australia is a country that is famed for its sporting prowess. It’s also generally accepted that nobody has a higher opinion of Australia’s top sports stars than Australia’s top sports stars. Confidence and self-belief have been known to cross the line into cockiness with Nick Kyrgios, Shane Warne, Leyton Hewitt and even the great Greg Chappell.
Michael Addamo is a man who goes against the grain. The name might be unfamiliar, but the unassuming man from Melbourne is one of the top players in his chosen sport. And at only 28 years old, he has the time and the talent to become the best in the world.
As a teenager, chess was Addamo’s passion, and at the age of 18, he was ranked within the world’s top 2,000 players. At that point, he took up the poker game and has never looked back.
Poker’s changing profile
In just a moment, we will look at Addamo’s quiet yet prolific rise within the World Series of Poker (WSOP). But first, it is worth reflecting on how the game’s profile has changed over the past couple of decades, both in his native Australia and across the globe.
Addamo was born around the time the internet was starting to take off, which has profoundly affected poker. Poker has never been like cricket or tennis; no summer poker schools exist for talented youngsters. In the pre-web days, you could look at books and strategy sheets all day long, but the only real way to become skilled at poker was to sit down at a card table with a bunch of other players and learn the hard way. It’s not the most attractive idea, and you know it will hurt your pride and wallet unless you are a fast learner.
The internet changed all that. Today, thousands of new players are taking up online poker in Australia every week. There are poker sites where they can play just for fun or, when they have developed some basic strategic skills, for real money. It’s even possible to play professionally for sizable pots online – some poker pros play exclusively online and have never sat at a physical poker table. But that is not the path Michael Addamo chose to follow – at least, not exclusively.
Online and offline success
Addamo’s highest-profile wins have come at the major WSOP events shown on TV, although his biggest financial rewards have come online. Just four years after playing his first hand of poker, Addamo collected his first cash reward in the WSOP by finishing third in a no-limits Holdem event.
Two years later, Addamo hit the big time and people started to remember his name – at least, within poker circles. His first WSOP bracelet came in 2018’s Marathon No Limit Holdem event, when he beat 1,636 other players and walked away with $653,000. Later the same year, he won a second bracelet at WSOP Europe and another €850,000.
In 2021, two more bracelets came his way, accompanied by more than $3 million, when he astonished onlookers by appearing from nowhere to win the final two events of the tournament.
These achievements are remarkable, but from a financial standpoint, they pale insignificantly compared to his online poker performances. Addamo plays online under the name imluckbox, a characteristically self-effacing name – in his occasional interviews he invariably puts his wins down to luck. In 2019, he won the World Championship of Online Poker. The following year he finished runner up to Justin Bonomo in another online event, the Super High Roller Bowl, which won him just under $2 million—a lucky guy.
Looking ahead, the sky’s the limit.
Overall, Michael Addamo has won over $20 million playing poker. It’s still a long way behind the likes of Bonomo and Daniel Negreanu, but the interesting thing is that he has won all but a few thousand of it in the last three years. If he can repeat that achievement between now and 2026, he will be among poker’s top ten money earners of all time – and he will still have only just turned 30.
Addamo has little to say on the subject – a man with a perfect poker face on and off the table is content to let his cards do the talking.