How Do Poker Pros Earn Money?

In our article on ‘4 Strategies to Manage Irregular Income’, we discussed how mismanaging an irregular income can lead to overspending, and potentially debt. It’s tough to spend money day by day, so it’s best to live on last month’s income and set aside cash for an emergency fund.

It can be difficult to live comfortably if you’re not collecting a monthly salary, but some professionals find ways to augment their income through other gigs. Poker players, for instance, have plenty of opportunities to earn more money. The flexibility of their work schedule allows them to pursue various, lucrative projects and activities. Here are four ways poker pros earn money:

Joining cash games and tournaments

Naturally, poker professionals earn money from playing poker — but can they earn a living from poker winnings alone? The answer is yes. Dedicated professionals join high-stakes games to make money from tournament winnings or cash games, which could be anywhere from six to seven figures a year. The World Series of Poker hosts prestigious events with large cash prizes. The ‘Reunion’ tourney offers a guaranteed $5 million prize pool. The Colossus, another event, saw winner Sejin Park earning over $450,000 in 2019 — after paying an entry fee of only $400. Of course, these winnings still get taxed in the US, and it takes years of hard work to make playing poker your major source of income. People at the start of their poker career would still need an alternative source of income to support themselves.

Coaching other players

Unlike in other sports, poker coaches aren’t retired players. Rather, they’re active professional players who don’t mind helping new players get better at the game. Their advanced know-how in mathematics, probabilities, and bankroll management keeps them high in demand. Depending on the player’s profile, coaches can charge anywhere between $50 to $170 per hour, and have as many students as they can handle. Poker Hall of Fame player Erik Seidel, for instance, trained Harvard-educated psychologist Maria Konnikova into becoming a poker champion. Other expert poker coaches also set up online classes or training courses; six-time world champion Daniel Negreanu offers a Masterclass for poker players.

Writing or speaking engagements

There is always a demand for poker and poker-related resources. As a game that covers psychology and probability, many audiences want to learn more about the intricacies of poker. The aforementioned Maria Konnikova wrote her insights in a book called The Biggest Bluff: How I Learned to Pay Attention, Master Myself and Win. These books cover everything from strategies to tournament experiences. If you’ve acquired enough success to convince people that you have knowledge worth sharing, you could also be invited to prestigious speaking engagements. Former poker pro Liv Boeree was invited to do a TED talk on whether success (in poker or elsewhere) is within our personal control. Other poker masters also earn by communicating their knowledge on YouTube, Twitch, or their personal blogs.

Working in the casino industry

There are plenty of poker-related positions in the casino industry, which a former player can transition into. You can be a tournament director and run poker events, ensuring they go smoothly. Managing a casino is also an option, because you need to hire and train new dealers properly. Sometimes, professionals are also paid to promote new products or services. Daniel Negreanu was recently seen promoting a streaming service called PokerGO, because he’s seen everything and everyone at the live tables over the course of his career.

Experience is definitely a valuable asset in poker, and it can potentially business you more in other fields.