After Sam Soverel, Wai Yong and Bryn Kenney became the latest poker players to bank seven-figure scores, Lee Davy, explains why he believes there has never been a better time to become stinking rich playing cards.
A few weeks ago, Sam Soverel won over a million dollars playing in a Super High Roller event at The Aria. The buy-in was $100,000. He beat 34 entrants. Blink and you might have missed it.
It goes to show how far poker has come when the news of a poker player winning a million bucks doesn’t even make the news. The truth is, the poker community has become desensitised to these seven-figure scores as they are handed out like flyers for Domino’s Pizza.
And so I want to go back to an old point, raised by Daniel Negreanu, and refuted by every young wizard trying to make a living as a professional poker player – and that’s to suggest that there has never been a better time to be a professional poker player.
How to Build a Bankroll to Compete For Millions
In 1991, Brad Daughterty did make the news when he became the first player to win a million dollar first prize in the $10,000 buy-in World Series of Poker (WSOP) Main Event.
Over the next eight years, the million dollars first prize became the WSOP’s tagline. But then the attendances started to grow, the prize pools got bigger, and suddenly, in 2006, the WSOP were handing Jamie Gold a check for $12m. In 2014, WSOP officials guaranteed $10m to the winner. 10x Daugherty’s prize 23-years earlier.
Daugherty currently lives in The Philippines, and yesterday Wai Yong won a $2m first prize by beating a field of 44 entrants in the HK$500,000 buy-in Triton Super High Roller Series in Daugherty’s backyard. Bryn Kenney finished second for $1.4m. Sergio Aido finished third for $848,000.
In 2012, Aido finished runner-up to Arne Michaelis to win €4,140 in a €500 buy-in event in Barcelona marking his first live score on The Hendon Mob. A few months later and he won the World Poker Tour National (WPTN) Main Event in the same city, and then a year later followed that up with a victory in the United Kingdom & Ireland Poker Tour (UKIPT) in London.
Those wins earned Aido close to $500,000 in prize money, and a bankroll that would allow him to flourish as a professional poker player. But that doesn’t give him the funds to compete in a $111,111 buy-in event. He did, though, in this year’s One Drop High Roller, and he finished 14th for $250,000.
So how does someone like Aido go from playing in a €500 buy-in event to a $111,111 buy-in event in the space of four years and what does this mean?
There Has Never Been a Better Time to be a Professional Poker Player
Never before in the history of the game has a professional poker player had the ability to ascend financially as quickly as they do today. Poker is tough. There are more competent players than ever before. There are fewer fish. But the facts remain the same, poker is a game that can be learned by anyone. With the right ingredients, you can be the next Daniel Negreanu, and there has never been a better chance to make it happen.
The days of needing a sponsorship deal to get noticed are long gone. Anyone can register for a Twitch account and start streaming while playing. Jamie Staples, Kevin Martin, and Parker Talbot are prime examples of professional poker players who created brands without the help of a third party online poker site.
The Rise of the Super High Rollers
Wai Yong beat 44 people to win $2m.
Sam Soverel beat 34 people to win $1m.
Elton Tsang beat 26 people to win $12.2m.
Play for long enough, and it’s not a matter of if you will win a million bucks, but when. The only question is whether you have the bankroll to weather the small storms, only that doesn’t seem to matter these days.
It’s Not What You Know; It’s Who You Know.
If you want to become a wealthy professional poker player then the single core competency you need to ensure is sharper that your competitors is learning how to network.
Technical and psychological training is vital, but they come secondary to finding the right people within the industry, and becoming friends with them. You are the total of the five people you spend the most time with. If you want to play for millions of dollars in small fields, then hang out with the people who can bankroll you into these games.
It is not difficult.
But there is one thing you need to do first.
You Need to Get Noticed
Start a charity, that always works. But the main way you are going to get noticed is to win regularly. Someone has taken a punt on Sergio Aido because they know he has what it takes to get over the finishing line. And he isn’t alone. Dominik Nitsche has started to pop up in the highest buy-in events after winning a WPT title and WSOP bracelets. Sam Trickett didn’t pay a penny towards his $1m buy-in when he won $10m in the inaugural One Drop. And let’s not forget Fedor Holz and his incredible rise through the ranks.
The reason I believe it’s never been easier to become extremely wealthy in this game is that without the exception of Full Tilt accidentally wiring their employees millions of dollars; there has never been a higher tier of cash prizes like there exists today.
If you want to earn millions playing poker, then the time has never been better.
Nothing is stopping you from achieving a Sam Soverel or Wai Yong except for you.