Ever since poker joined the mainstream with the introduction of the World Series of Poker (WSP) in 1970, year on year the winnings have increased substantially.
Looking back to the first year of the WSP, no actual winnings for the winner, Johnny Ross, were recorded. However, only a year later in 1971 the winner, once again Johnny Ross, took away $30,000. With less than 10 entrants to the competition, the prize was in the grasps of all and it was no wonder why competition was so high.
Over the next 20 years, with the number of entrants increasing, the winnings continued to grow also. First tens of thousands of dollars were added, then around fifty thousand dollars were added, followed by hundreds of thousands of dollars being added to the grand total. Then, in 1991, with 215 entrants, the World Series of Poker winning amount inevitably hit the $1,000,000. It was no wonder that by this time, being a full time, professional poker player was seen as an acceptable – and a much sought after – career.
With the poker tournaments being screened on satellite TV in later years and with the introduction of onlinepoker, and therefore increased popularity, the winnings now stand just shy of $10,000,000 at $9,119,517, which one winner from the 6,844 participants will win.
Of course, the World Series of Poker isn’t the only big paying poker tournament. The World Poker Tour arranges a variety of poker tournaments throughout the year since it was established in 1992. For example, the LA Poker Classic tournament regularly sees the winner take away one or two million dollars, whilst the Five Diamond World Poker Classic offers very similar amounts. For someone who could, in reality, win both, the winnings could be substantial to say the least. It’s no wonder that so many students are dropping out of University and playing poker full time to win large amounts of cash. Even if they were to win a fraction of the winnings, they would, when compared to the majority of the population, be considered wealthy and could live a happy and successful life. When also considering it’s ‘working’ in a ‘job’ you love, it’s a tempting road to take.
So who is the richest poker player?
It’s debatable who’s been the most successful poker player in respect of winnings and money earned, as individual earning records aren’t made publicly available. However, it’s rumoured that some of the most successful poker players ever, such as Phil Ivey, Chip Reese and Doyle Brunson, are playing private games with millions changing hands, meaning their bank roll will easily be in the early tens of millions.
It must always be remembered though – for all massive wins in poker, someone somewhere will be losing a massive amount. Remember the rumour about Ben Affleck? It was flying around Hollywood that in a single year, he lost over $7m at poker. And according to the actual poker companies, only 15% of players actually win. Maybe it’s best to keep your money in the bank.