June 18, 2018, 11:21 am

The Most Successful Investments Made by Poker Pros Revealed

by: The Financial Blogger    Category: Investment, Market and Risk
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Image: Pixabay.com
Caption: From small poker acorns do big businesses grow

What’s the best way of turning money into even more money? Investing it. That’s what some of the legends of the poker industry have successfully achieved with their profits made at the tables. When you consider just how much prize money is on offer in the poker industry today, it’s unsurprising the very best in the business choose to diversify their profits by investing in initiatives outside of Texas hold’em. Last year’s World Series of Poker (WSOP) Main Event saw the third-highest prize pool in the history of poker tournaments, with $67,877,400 up for grabs. The top ten professionals in terms of live career earnings include the enigmatic Phil Hellmuth, who just so happens to be one of the shrewder investors of his poker winnings, as we will explain in more detail shortly.

There are many poker icons that have successfully diversified their poker fortunes into even more profitable business ventures. If you’re familiar with the world of poker, you’ll almost certainly have heard of this trio of poker gods-turned-entrepreneurs:

Jerry Buss: Successful owner of the LA Lakers

For a number of years, entrepreneur and philanthropist, Jerry Buss was a high-stakes Texas hold’em cash game player. He had been a major player in the Los Angeles and Las Vegas card rooms and then became a regular entrant in the World Series of Poker (WSOP) events in the 1990s. Buss’ best-ever finish was a third-place finish in a seven-card stud WSOP tournament, followed by a runner-up finish in a World Poker Tour (WPT) invitational event back in 2003. A charismatic individual, Buss was also invited to play on NBC’s Poker After Dark television series, as well as the High Stakes Poker series on GSN.

Using much of the revenue he had generated from the cash game and tournament poker tables in the late 80s and early 90s, Buss then invested heavily in professional sports teams in Los Angeles. He spent $67.5 million on acquiring the World TeamTennis side, the LA Strings, the NBA giants, the LA Lakers and the NHL outfit, the LA Kings. Undoubtedly, Buss’ most successful investment was his purchase of the Lakers, where he was able to attract a string of big-name stars to the Lakers roster; namely Magic Johnson, Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant. It was his desire to provide world-class entertainment for the fans that led in the Lakers’ ‘Showtime’ era. His financial contribution to basketball was marked by an induction to the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2010 prior to his 2013 death.

Dan Harrington: Real estate riches with Anchor Loans

72-year-old Dan Harrington, nicknamed ‘Action Dan’ in the poker fraternity, is best known for winning the WSOP Main Event in 1995. Harrington had been a successful bankruptcy lawyer for a number of years prior to entering the world of poker and business. Harrington learnt his trade playing poker at the Mayfair Club in the 1980s, sitting alongside some of the other household names of professional poker in Erik Seidel and Howard Lederer. Harrington made the final table of the 1987 WSOP Main Event, finishing in sixth place and started to generate solid revenues from his love of tight-conservative Texas hold’em.

Harrington began to dabble in real estate and stocks and shares before co-founding an enterprise of his own with two of his friends in the world of poker, Stephen Pollack and Jeff Lipton. In 1998, Anchor Loans was established, providing short-term loans to ‘fix-and-flip’ real estate investors. The company has funded more than $5.3 billion in short-term loans in its 20 years of business. Harrington retired from the business in 2010 but is still a shareholder in the company. Harrington has a long and proud history as a poker author, publishing a string of books on online and offline cash games in Texas hold’em no-limit, suitable for beginners and intermediate players. Although he penned a book on ‘Modern Tournament Poker’ in 2014, he hasn’t gone as far as writing about some of the latest poker room incarnations such as SNAP poker that is fast-fold and offers instant gratification for millennial players. Although Harrington’s live tournament earnings are barely a quarter of Phil Hellmuth’s, it’s obvious that Harrington has diversified his poker revenues impressively into real estate and publishing.

Phil Hellmuth: Book publisher extraordinaire


pp-ed-how-good-phil-hellmuth” (CC BY 2.0) by Chingster23

Caption: Poker Brat turned publisher for the sharp-tongued American

Phil Hellmuth is one of the larger-than-life characters in the world of professional poker. The aptly-named ‘Poker Brat’ has never taken kindly to losing at anything in life, most certainly not at the poker tables, and his will to win has helped him become one of the most respected poker pros on the tour. As of last year, his live tournament earnings were in excess of $21 million, sitting eighth in the all-time winnings list. Hellmuth also holds a record 14 WSOP gold bracelets and also holds the record for the most amount of cashes at WSOP events, standing at 108. These landmarks further serve to commemorate the commitment and passion Hellmuth has held for his poker craft through the years.

Hellmuth has always had a passion for telling stories and, in 2009, as the poker boom started to decline somewhat, he opted to set up his own publishing house with a view of allowing fellow poker professionals to tell their own accounts of life at the tables and away from the felt. The book, Deal Me In: 20 of the World’s Top Poker Players Share the Heartbreaking and Inspiring Stories of How They Turned Pro, written by Stephen John and Marvin Karlins, has proven to be extremely successful among the poker community. Amateurs and semi-pros alike have found it particularly inspiring to see how even the world’s most powerful poker stars had to work hard to build their bankrolls from the outset. It also reinforces that those who have the courage to dream big can, and often will, succeed.

Poker is a gruelling and demanding profession. Even those who stick at it for many decades will look to have downtime away from the tables to keep fresh. What better way for successful poker players to take their heads out of the game than to invest some of their riches in generating more income on the side.

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