Funding a Life as a Professional Poker Player

Becoming a professional poker player seems like an aspirational lifestyle.

Currently, the World Series of Poker is taking place in Las Vegas, and when the main event winner is crowned, they will walk away with more than $7m. That’s the dream of anyone who picks up a deck of cards, or even a mouse, to win the big event. Chris Moneymaker did it in 2003 and sparked the original poker boom. He was simply an average Joe who qualified at home and went on to grab the top prize, but he is an exception to the rule; poker players usually plough months and years into pounding the circuit, hoping for their big break. Take Phil Ivey as an example; according to, he is worth around $100m, generated from his life as a poker player. That’s a vast sum of money from an attractive lifestyle.

Of course, with such huge sums of money available for those willing to pursue the life, becoming a poker player is an attractive lifestyle. explain how the key element to starting out is getting your financing right, ensuring your stability whilst you’re on the circuit. Behind every good poker player, there is a good financial advisor or sound financial planning that allows them to succeed on the circuit. If you want to follow in the footsteps of Chris Moneymaker, then here are some tips on financing your life as a poker professional.

Set a Figure

Poker can be an expensive profession; tournaments usually have large buy-in sums, such as $10,000, and you can’t hope to simply raise that single amount and set off as a professional. If you start smaller, hitting the $2 to $5 tables at the Bellagio, for example, then you’ll need less. Most professionals who begin a journey have buy-in money for at least 20 tournaments, if not more. Others will prefer to have as much as 50 – that will be out of the reach of many. Then, consider your living expenses as well. If you’re going to play 20 tournaments, you’ll need money for hotels, food and the like. Work out a figure that can sustain you, and don’t quit your job before that.

Play Part-Time

One good way to raise funds to become a full time professional is to work and play simultaneously. This won’t be easy, but it is possible. It works for those who have jobs that allow them to work wherever, so digital nomads can often become poker players. That way, you still have income coming in but can also travel to the key tournaments. Alternatively, you could play online for real money in your spare time. Again, you’d be earning from your real job but hopefully accumulating winnings from your online games. Both routes could lead you to become a professional if you win regularly.

Finance or Credit

It will be tough to convince a company that you are a good bet in becoming a poker professional. There are so many variables that would put them off, and the only way you might raise a couple of hundred thousand, which you’ll more than likely need, is by putting up a house as collateral. That wouldn’t be advisable; you will need a life to return to, not a cardboard box on the sidewalk if you fail. By all means, part finance some of your dreams if you must, but remember that cashes only run into the tens of thousands at best for many players. Don’t overreach chasing a pipe dream, be realistic. If you must go for the tables of Las Vegas, try to do it in stages and with your own money, not someone else’s.

It might be a good idea to get further financial advice if you are hoping to set up as a poker player; our article ‘Benefit of Hiring the Best Financial Advisors’ should help you pick someone to help you on the journey.