As 2011, an eventful year for online poker draws to a close it is apparent that the top cash winner across sites is 28 year old Finnish pro Ilari Sahamies who plays on PokerStars.

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The young player from Helsinki played more than 900 hands last night against some redoubtable opponents like Ville Wahlbeck and Viktor Blom, and ended richer by $131,000. That took his winnings for the year to $2,500,191 and made him the highest earner at PokerStars.

It is hard to believe that just four months ago Sahamies was in the red for $873,360. After that lowest point in July/August he hit a winning streak that does not seem to be easing off as yet.

Before Sahamies started his incredible run, the top honors were firmly with Israeli prodigy Rafi Amit who is currently at $2.1 million profits for the year. This two time bracelet winner at WSOP has been making waves on the online poker scene too with cash winnings of $3,591,245 at Full Tilt Poker. When that site was shut down in the aftermath of Black Friday Amit moved to PokerStars and continued with his winning ways.

Unlike Sahamies, Amit has never been in the red this year. He added $800,990 to his kitty in April and another $1 million in September. This steady show however was not enough to stop Sahamies from overtaking him and racing to the top of the list of the year’s biggest winners. On September 7th, Sahamies won $421,826 – the largest pot ever played till date on PokerStars. Although that is a sizeable sum, the record for the biggest pot ever in online poker is $1,356,947 played on Full Tilt Poker.

Full Tilt Poker used to be the venue of choice for high-stakes play but the site has been shut for some months now and PokerStars seems to be quickly moving in to fill the vacuum left by FTP. In recent months PokerStars has seen some terrific action and increasingly bigger pots in games between players like Viktor Blom, Ilari Sahamies, Andreas Torbergsen, Phil Galfond, Rafi Amit, Brian Hastings and Niki Jedlicka.

If Full Tilt Poker was still operational, the year’s biggest winner could well have been Gus Hansen who had profits of $3.9 at the site before it was boarded up. It is anybody’s guess if Hansen will ever get to see the color of his money.

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