The Life of a Poker Player


The association between gambling and poker has been a stereotype that’s amassed over many years. The compilation of poker’s uncertain situations, coupled with the necessity to risk hundreds or even thousands of dollars at a time has cast an unwelcome shadow over the game for quite some time. But despite poker’s depiction, many of the world’s best poker players pursue and portray the card game in a selfless limelight, void of most stigmas and uncharacteristic assumptions. While the life of a poker player may have once been something many consumers were willing to disguise, over the past ten years it’s been a lifestyle even the most modest of participants are looking to expose.

Several beginnings of some of the best current poker players in the world have started in similar environments. Typically whether the player’s adventure began online or in brick and mortar casinos, it’s usually riddled with stories of famine to fortune or possibly a never-ending upward trend to super-stardom. Whatever the case may be, nearly every professional poker player had to start somewhere. Despite the characteristic similarities, poker’s ambassadors have truly embraced the complexity of their unique lifestyle. While even many of poker’s most subdued stars often use their encirclement for a more cliched expression of luxury and affluence, it’s important to understand that this is merely a personal choice. There’s an equal amount of poker personalities that are just as content with investing and enjoying the comfort of being able to pay their bills on time. As high achievement comes with any career endeavor, it’s ultimately your own decision in how you redeem the gifts success has awarded you.

With a dramatic increase in poker’s popularity over the past ten years, it’s been necessary for nearly every professional poker player to re-evaluate their approach to the game. Players have become much smarter, and the implementation of training videos and web sites have given even the most novice of amateurs the ability to instantly improve their poker capacity. While nearly every individual takes to the improvement of their game from a different standpoint, it’s also useful to comprehend that the most prosperous professional players are extremely meticulous in their pursuit of success. One of poker’s biggest criticisms has always been it’s long-term sustainability, but in the latest century the results of nearly every poker professional has reinforced a strong correlation between detailed organization and financial prosperity. The most skillful professionals all have one thing in common; they’re all immensely thorough in the dissection of their results.

Shortly returning to the idea of poker’s sustainability, it’s certainly run through every poker player’s mind whether or not they can withstand the rigors of everyday play. Nearly all players and most occasional critics understand that variance is constantly at work, and although it’s important to understand the statistical probabilities, nothing is truly guaranteed. Poker is about making the correct decisions at the best time, and although this mostly applies to actual gameplay, in order to remain successful over a long period of time professionals apply this to their lives as well. Poker is filled with numerous long-term rewards and opportunities, and the intelligent players use these to their advantage. Sponsorships with many online poker sites, Fortune 500 companies, and training web sites all appear over time for those who put in the effort. Often in return for promotional advertising, players are rewarded with annual stipends, tournament buy-ins, or luxury accommodations for their latest poker destinations. Over the course of a career, this saves a ton of money on expenditures that are absolutely necessary. By taking the right steps, poker doesn’t have to be a short-term outlay, it can also be a life-long investment that can reward you even after your time is finished at the felt.

The glitz and glam associated with poker’s successes definitely isn’t a fabrication. Winning thousands of dollars at a time (or even millions) certainly lends itself to its fair share of impulsive expenditures. Many of poker’s biggest names have spent an extraordinary amount of money on luxurious homes, vehicles, and fashion items. Whether it be an expensive set of headphones to listen to while at the table, a fancy watch so you can keep track of your sessions, or a “tricked-out” Mercedes to drive back and forth from the Bellagio, you’re spending habits are up to you. To some, it’s simply a way to display the significance of what they do. For others, it’s just an approach to keeping up the trends. As many of us are guilty of, every individual has their own fetish. So, “to each his own.”

Las Vegas, Nevada is unquestionably the trend of where nearly every big name poker player resides if he wants to stay heavily involved in the action. Whether it be a glamorous night on the town, an exciting entertainment experience, or maybe a more typical juicy high- stakes poker session, Las vegas is generally where to do it. But regardless of all the benefits the “city of sin” has to offer, it’s not the only place where poker player’s live. With the takeoff of online poker, many enjoy spending countless hours in the comfort of their own abode, which in turn lends itself to being located in nearly any destination you desire (provided your not secluded or living in an Amish territory). Many of the lesser- known online pros stay in areas such as Massachusetts, Maryland, and New York. Albeit rather distant from the immediate notoriety that locations such as Atlantic City and Las Vegas provide, these destinations often fit their suitors just fine for needs that are important to them. Other than career goals.

Balance probably could be one of the few words that describes some of the best poker players in the world today. Incorporating both monetary responsibility and life necessities, all of the great players maintain both conveniently. What defines their unique outlook on poker, is often their ability to separate the short-term monetary gains from playing poker, and the long-term decision-making and profitability. As stated earlier, the dynamic of ring games and tournament play is very susceptible to short-term variance. Despite being in positive “expected value” situations, it’s impossible to predict when you might incur a bad run of cards, or begin playing less than optimally. But despite these mainstays, some of the brightest poker minds cope with the stress of the game by focusing on other projects. Whether it be finally pursuing their own entrepreneurial idea, financing a restaurant, or investing in the right companies many poker players are crafty enough to have multiple options. While a majority of the poker community is single, there’s also a large community of players that need to consider their long term plans for families and spouses. Let’s also keep in mind, while winning thousands of dollars at the poker table is certainly fun, paying a massive fraction of those winnings in taxes every year is not. Poker pros need to allocate resources to take care of thier economic responsibilities as well. A slew of poker players in today’s game are dynamically brilliant, and coming from tremendous collegiate backgrounds they make sure to apply their intellect not only to their poker aptitude but also their future accomplishments.

While we’re all often amazed by the goods and services that poker can bring, it’s essential to take note that many players get there on separate paths. Not every poker player’s journey is the same, and often times neither are their long-term goals. Let poker become what YOU decide to make of it.

Phil Ivey’s Home Office


Phil Ivey’s Mercedes SLR


Phil Galfond’s New York City Bedroom


Phil Galfond’s NYC Apartment Slide

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