In Hollywood movies, poker is almost always portrayed as a rich man’s game. Poker players always seem to have unlimited resources. Perhaps this picture of poker and luxury going hand-in-hand is part of the reason why there is now a significant number of people who have chosen to make a living as poker players, and even more who are thinking of following in their footsteps.
If you’re interested in entering the world of poker, you may find it interesting to learn just how much professional poker players really make and who the world’s richest poker players are.
How Much Do Poker Players Make?
Just as with any other career, the amount of work you put into improving your skill in poker is a huge determinant of how much success you will be able to achieve. Consequently, the amount of success you gain will determine how much you earn from being a professional poker player.
On average, a poker player can earn anywhere between $10,000 to $1,000,000 or even more a year. If you are a semi-top tier live poker player in Florida playing $5/10 NL deepstacked, for example, you could easily make $100,000 to $250,000 a year. If you’ve managed to climb the ladder and become one of the top poker players in the world, you could be earning upwards of $5,000,000 a year.
Money Is Secondary
One thing the best and richest players have in common, and something you would do well to keep in mind, is that they don’t really focus on the money they stand to win. Every time they sit at a poker table, the goal is to win, of course, but not primarily because of the money. Rather, they strive to win because winning each game is a testament to how much their poker skills have improved and how much their hard work has paid off.
Poker is not always an easy game, which is why the best players focus on their approach to the game. Every decision they make concerning the game is carefully weighed, and their ultimate goal is to become the best poker player they can possibly be. They understand that getting better at the game adds to one’s confidence, and this confidence is key to achieving success in poker.
So, if you want to become a successful poker player, don’t focus too much on achieving success. Rather, focus on becoming the best poker player that you can be.
Top 10 Richest Poker Players and Their Net Worth
You already have an idea of how much you can make if you take poker seriously and strive to hone your poker skills. But you might become even more motivated to work on your craft if you get a glimpse of who the world’s richest poker players are and what their net worth is.
1. Bryn Kenney
A native of Long Beach, New York, Kenney did not start out as a poker player when he started gaming. Rather, he played Magic: The Gathering and it certainly looks like his prowess at this fantasy game has helped him immensely when he moved on to become a poker player. Perhaps it is the fact that fantasy game players need to keep their composure at all times, even while endlessly battling dragons and other enemies that help hone them into excellent poker players.
Regardless of what it is about fantasy games that help make one a good poker player, it’s clear that Kenney made the right decision when he chose to switch from Magic: The Gathering to poker. He initially made that decision because “there wasn’t much money to be made with ‘Magic’,” and he was right. Poker became so much more profitable for him.
Today, the 10th richest poker player in the world has one WSOP bracelet and a net worth of over $30 million.
2. Patrik Antonius
This Finnish heartthrob is definitely a jack of all trades. Before making it big in poker, he used to pose for a living. Even while he was modelling, though, he was already playing poker on the side. Soon enough, he started earning a considerable amount of money from what used to be a hobby.
Antonius’ real poker breakthrough, though, happened not at a physical poker table, but online. He originally hid his identity behind a bunch of eclectic usernames, but no matter what name he used, his skill in the game cannot be denied. He quickly became one of the highest-grossing online poker players, and in 2009, he won the biggest pot in the history of online poker. He cashed in $1.3 million at that time.
When he’s not at a poker table (in person or online), you will likely find Antonius playing his first passion, tennis. Today, Antonius has yet to win his first WSOP bracelet, but he is already worth about $32 million.
3. Fedor Holz
It is said that when this young German prodigy sits at the poker table, blitzkrieg begins. Regardless of the competition or stage he is on, Holz has become known to have a penchant not just for winning, but winning big. Just like Patrik Antonius, he got his start in poker as an anonymous online player. He dominated the online poker scene that he joined, but he soon transitioned to high-stakes, in-person tournaments that are broadcast for the whole world to see, where the real money is made when it comes to poker.
He started distancing himself from the online poker world when he saw an opportunity to make it big at the tables. Today, at the young age of 25, Holz already has one WSOP bracelet and is one of the world’s highest-earning players on the tour. When he’s not at the poker tables, Holz is usually travelling the world or mentoring up-and-coming poker players. He now has a net worth of $33 million.
4. Erik Seidel
Seidel is unquestionably the most admired poker player in the world. And when you take a look at his accomplishments at the poker tables, he has certainly earned such admiration. But people admire Seidel not only because he is one of the world’s best poker players, but also because he is one smart cookie.
Although he has definitely earned a considerable amount of money from poker tournaments, Seidel has also started investing in stocks, which is how he has managed to grow his poker earnings significantly. Of course, a majority of his total assets still come from poker. He now has a net worth of $40 million.
5. Justin Bonomo
Bonomo was also a Magic: The Gathering enthusiast before he entered the world of poker. And like many others before him, the day came when he decided to ditch ‘Magic’ to try his hand at poker. Soon after making that decision, he went to Las Vegas in a bid to become a serious poker player, and that move proved to be one of the best decisions he has ever made in his life.
He has since become a three-time World Series of Poker winner and has reached the final table a total of 16 times in WSOP. In 2018, he surpassed Daniel Negreanu as the player to have the highest all-time live earnings, having earned $43 million. This helps ensure that he can fund his other passion, which is the annual Burning Man festival in Nevada.
Today, this known polyamorous player is worth $40 million.
6. Daniel Negreanu
Hailing from maple syrup country, Canadian Daniel Negreanu isn’t one of those who simply transitioned to poker from another game. On the contrary, he knew from the start that becoming a professional poker player was what he wanted to do. This Toronto native realized early on that school was not for him, so he dropped out of high school to make a career out of poker.
Dropping out was a huge risk, but it has proven to be a risk worth taking. Once Negreanu got seriously involved in the local poker scene, he was able to save up enough money to move to Las Vegas. This vegan, who is often seen wearing a Toronto Maple Leafs jersey, already has six WSOP bracelets. He has also appeared in several TV shows and movies. Add to that his net worth of $50 million, and you’ll see how much his risk when he was in high school has paid off.
7. Doyle Brunson
Also one of the most esteemed poker players in the world, this Texas native started playing poker in college. In those days, however, poker was nothing more than a game to him. He only started taking the game seriously when he realized that he was making more than a month’s salary in poker games with his co-workers. He soon quit his job to become a full-time poker player.
Decades after making that life-changing decision, Brunson now has ten WSOP bracelets and is hailed as one of the greatest poker players ever to have graced the tables. He is a published author, and his book, “Poker Systems”, is a bestseller. It is often cited as the bible for poker enthusiasts all over the world who want to learn the ropes from one of poker’s greatest players.
Brunson is a Poker Hall of Fame inductee. He has won two Main Events at the WSOP. Today, he is worth $75 million.
8. Chris Ferguson
Chris is probably the most interesting man in the world of poker. Not only does he have six WSOP bracelets, but he also has a Ph.D. in Computer Science from UCLA. Nicknamed Jesus, he also has the special ability of being able to cut fruits and vegetables using cards. Funnily enough, it was after spending almost a decade getting a Ph.D. that he finally realized his true passion lies in poker.
Ferguson is known in the world of poker for his long hair, cowboy hat, and exceptionally calm demeanor. Perhaps the only blemish on his record was the Full Tilt Poker scandal that involved several poker stars a few years back. Regardless of that scandal, though, Ferguson is now worth $80 million.
9. Phil Ivey
From a young age, Ivey was already a phenomenal player. He used to get into casinos as a teenager, armed with fake IDs. Because of this, he came to be known as No Home Jerome. Ivey’s passion for poker, unlike other teenage pastimes, proved deep and real, and he made a real career out of it.
Ivey’s dedication to poker has certainly paid off, as he is now deemed one of the greatest poker players of all time. With 10 WSOP bracelets to his name, he was inducted into the Poker Hall of Fame in 2017. Today, Ivey’s net worth is a staggering $100 million.
10. Dan Bilzerian
Bilzerian is perhaps the most mysterious guy in the world of poker. No one knows exactly where the assumptions end and the truth begins where he is concerned. What everyone knows is that he is the poker world’s King of Instagram. And what he shows on Instagram are the only things people really know about this controversial player.
It is believed that he once served in the Navy, but for how long, no one knows. There are also those who say the bulk of his money was inherited from his dad, and did not come from poker at all. Whether this is true or not, one thing is for sure: Bilzerian is a prominent figure in the world of poker and he’s not afraid of flaunting his riches.
Today, regardless of whether a majority of his riches came from poker or not, he has a net worth of $150 million.
Good players can definitely make tons of money, but that does not mean they’re immune to losing. They can also lose a lot of money, especially on what is known as their off days. If you plan to make a career out of this game, bear in mind that it can be easy to spend beyond your means. In fact, keeping your finances in check is perhaps the biggest challenge a poker player faces on a daily basis.
Even if you win one tournament with a six-figure prize, you could easily go broke if you keep playing in games beyond your resources. What sets the world’s best apart from mediocre poker players is that they know how to manage their finances while building a reputation and consequently establishing their career. Yes, the goal is to be able to play in the big tournaments, but don’t be in a rush to get there.
By playing within the capacity of your resources, you can effectively build your influence in poker while improving your game. And when you’ve reached the point where you are already earning at least $50,000 a year, that’s when you can start thinking about moving up to more lucrative tables with higher stakes. The key is to win with as much consistency as possible. This is how you get recognized and possibly even win sponsorships and endorsement deals that could get you into televised tournaments.
If you really want to reach the same kind of success that the world’s richest poker players are now enjoying, you have to be ready to endure the struggles of going through a trial-and-error period. You have to be willing to spend not just hours, but possibly years in honing your craft and becoming a pro. As long as you’re willing to spend the time and make the effort, someday you just might find yourself among the richest and greatest poker players of all time.