What exactly is a professional poker player?

What exactly is a professional poker player?

I was talking with a new co-worker and she told me that her boyfriend is a professional poker player. I’ve never heard that before. Everyone that I know who plays poker does it once a week or once a month for fun. I asked her if he plays every day and she said yes. He’s 21 years old. I asked if he pays taxes on his winnings like employees do on wages and she said, “well, waitresses don’t claim all their tips.”

Can anyone give me an overview of a career as a professional poker player since I’m clueless? How do they find work? How much do they make? What are the possitives & negatives of such a career? Is it something someone can do their whole life?

Question asked by: ?skyblue


A professional poker player is someone who earns their primary income from playing poker. This can be done in various ways, including live games at casinos, online poker, or participating in poker tournaments. The life of a professional poker player can be quite different from a traditional job, with its own set of challenges and rewards.

How they find work: Professional poker players typically seek out cash games at casinos or poker rooms, or they play online poker on various platforms. They also participate in tournaments, both live and online, to compete for significant prize pools.

Income: The income of a professional poker player can vary greatly depending on their skill level, the stakes they play, and the consistency of their results. Some players earn modest amounts, while others can make six or even seven-figure annual incomes. However, the variance in poker means that even skilled players may experience significant swings in their winnings.

Positives: Being a professional poker player can offer a flexible schedule, the excitement of competition, and the potential for significant financial rewards. Many players also enjoy the strategic and psychological aspects of the game, as well as the opportunity to travel and meet people from around the world.

Negatives: The life of a professional poker player can be stressful and uncertain, as income is not guaranteed, and players must be prepared for the ups and downs associated with the game. It can also be a solitary profession, with long hours spent playing and studying the game. Additionally, it can be challenging to maintain a healthy work-life balance, as poker can be mentally and emotionally taxing.

Longevity: While some players can have long and successful careers as professional poker players, others may find it difficult to maintain their success over time. As the poker landscape evolves and competition increases, players must continuously adapt and improve their skills to stay ahead. Some players transition to other roles within the poker world, such as coaching, commentating, or working within the industry, while others may eventually move on to entirely different careers.

As for the tax aspect, professional poker players are generally considered self-employed and are required to report their winnings and pay taxes accordingly. It is essential to keep accurate records of earnings and losses and consult with a tax professional to ensure compliance with tax laws.


  1. If you are a professional, it means you get paid to play.

    A professional poker player, makes his (or her) living playing cards.

    There are always games in Las Vegas or in someone’s basement or garage.

    You can make a lot of money doing this, but the risks probably outweigh the rewards.

  2. Exceptional poker players can make a lucrative lively hood playing the latest rage, hold-em poker. They enter no limit tournaments and play for prize money rather than earnings. The higher the finish the greater the prize. For example, Meg Tilly, the actress, supplements her acting income by playing poker tournaments.

  3. A professional poker player would be someone who makes his or her living at playing poker. There are tournaments going on all the time around the world, this is how most players ‘work’. They are not making a living playing poker in someone’s Thursday night poker game.
    Tournaments usually have an entry fee called a ‘buy-in’ which can range from $50 to $50,000 or more. When you buy-in, you are assigned a table with other players, and the winner is the person who wins all the other players chips. You then move on to another table of players who have all won at their respective tables and play as before. This progresses until the ‘final table’ and the winner of that table wins the tournament. In tournaments, the winner usually doesn’t keep the amount of chips he’s won, but it is set up with payouts to the top players (say 1st through 10th place).

    They find ‘work’ (tournaments) via the internet, industry magazines and mailings from the host casinos.

    They may make nothing at a tournament, or actually lose money if they pay a large buy-in and then do not place high enough to be in the money. Or they could win several million dollars for a few days ‘work’.

    You can play as long as you are physically and mentally able. It’s a very mental game but it also takes a lot of sitting and playing for long hours.

  4. Hi,
    I play poker for a living, online and live, and it’s a tough job, but I love it.

    Yes a poker player pay taxes, we find work online 24/7, in casinos 24/7, you must be able to manage your bankroll correctly. Play poker take a lot from you, hours and sometimes travel, if you’re single ok, but I’m married and very lucky to have a wife who stand by my side and support my choice 100%.
    Many players refuse to accept that poker is a difficult and complex game and it requires a lot from them!
    You must do the hard work needed to win!

    You can contact me on my site if you need specifics answers.

    Take care

  5. A professional anything is someone who makes a majority of their income doing a certain activity. For example, a professional Basketball Player makes a majority of their money as a basketball player. A professional poker player is a person who makes a majority of their income playing poker.

    A professional poker player has to be able to win on a constant basis. At a single high stakes cash game, a player can easily lose tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars. Like any professional “athlete”, the talents and discipline required to be a professional poker player are immense and it is not something that just anyone can do.

  6. It means that you earn all your income from playing poker. Some players have sponsors who cover entry fees into tournaments. But they play either cash games or tournaments to make a living. They pay taxes and work 8-10 hours a day just like a real job. The risk is that if you go on a bad run you can lose a lot of money, it is gambling so be sure you don’t get in over your head. Also getting credit and home loans may be difficult, because putting down that you are a pro poker player will not get you many loans because it is gambling.

  7. Here is the answer you seek – there are three groups of so called “PROFESSIONAL POKER PLAYERS” the first and best known are the touring pros that play large tournaments and few cash games ,these players can have backers or sponsers who get some of their prize or they can be self financed ( these folks show up on TV and can make thousands of dollars or lose their buy -in .The next group is the “WORKING PLAYER” who plays mostly live casino poker at the 10/20 level or above(10/20 refers to the betting limit dollar amounts $10 on the first 2 rounds then $20 on the last 2 rounds) in most casinos you won’t find 10/20 much less anything higher so to find these mostly single young men(early 20’s-early 30’s but exceptions do exsist both higher and lower) that carry their bankroll in their pocket and live a roller coaster life of feast or famine ,you must find big regular games to give you an idea of the requirements and expections i am going to refer to a book about gambling for a living that says your bankroll should be 300 times the big bet (300 x$20 in the case of a 10/20 player ) and you can “REASONABLY” expect 1 big bet per hour as your “WAGE” averaged out over a whole year ,provided you don’t run bad or go on tilt -very “SEXY” lifestyle when you are winning -very hard when you start to lose and eat up most of your bankroll waiting for the cards to turn or you find the hole in your game -that brings us to the third group and the least known they are “PROPS” or propisition players who are actually on a PAYROLL in the big southern califofnia cardrooms (BICYCLE,COMMERECE,HAWIAN GARDENS,etc) to prop up games at odd hours and play on their own bankroll,now when you tell some kid who thinks he is good at poker that he can literally walk in off the street and be paid $25.00 an hour PLUS full medical they scoff and say I am crazy but it is true just call any of the cardrooms listed because if you win you get the paycheck and your winnings but when you lose its your money you are losing and no matter how bad the game is YOU MUST STAY as long as your shift lasts -this could be in a 3 handed 30/60 game with a drunk movie producer who is laughing as he gets lucky and doesn’t need the money anyway and any other poor soul who wants to gamble in L.A. at 4 in the morning – as with any business being underfunded is the thing that gets most of these guys ,as the bankroll depletes you begin to have self doubt and wonder is it me or the cards or luck then you change your play and it becomes a death spiral til the money is gone and you fade from the scene only to be replaced by the next local hero that sees himself as the next BRUNSON,UNGER,CHAN and the cycle continues

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