What Do Poker Players Get Up to After Retiring?

poker players retiring image
Retirement Plan. Image Credit: Shutterstock

While retirement is something most of us look forward to, some professional poker players have the luxury of retiring at a much earlier age than most of us.

There are many reasons why we choose to retire.  For some, it happens when they accumulate sufficient financial reserves that will guarantee them a comfortable existence until their passing.  For others, it’s upon reaching their professional maximum and wishing to dedicate their spare time to fresh aspirations or hobbies.

When it comes to the world of professional poker, there are plenty of poker dynamos who chose to retire early and at a younger age, enjoying their hard-won prize money on more refined things in life.

Primary Reasons for Cutting the Poker Cord

While most of us are far from being able to retire before the age of 65, some poker pros are hanging up their gloves as young as 27. However, contrary to common belief, it’s not always because they’ve scored a massive sum of cash that would glide them comfortably through the rest of their lives. Often, it’s down to much more unanticipated circumstances:  

Bankruptcy 

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that professional poker players retire every year. This is simply because they can’t afford any longer the costly buy-ins or the extravagant lifestyle that poker has provided them. Alternatively, it could be due to making consistently poor decisions during their last few tournaments or because they have been chasing their losses for way too long. 

Family Affairs

Many poker players are married with kids, so retiring to embrace a more steady and secure lifestyle is a good enough reason to withdraw. Of course, many of them still partake in online poker contests, although keynote events occur at physical locations worldwide. Therefore, it’s easy to see how continuous travelling and long periods away from home, coupled with the uncertainty of whether there’ll be any winnings, could take their toll on the entire family.

Addiction 

Wayne Rooney and Floyd Mayweather are two sporting celebrities who love to gamble, but both have suffered from borderline addiction in the past. Professional poker players are as susceptible as anyone else in developing a gambling problem, often leading to bankruptcy and financial troubles. An addictive personality in the world of gambling spells disaster, so many full-time poker players have had to sever ties with the game to make a fresh start. 

Other than the above reasons, seasoned poker veterans often down tools simply because they’ve grown bored of playing since they’ve started too young or because they simply fancy a change.

How Does Life Look After Retirement?

While there is the impression that all retired poker stars spend their time basking in the sun on a racing yacht in the Mediterranean, this is not the case, with many returning to their favourite game after a while. 

Brunson’s Reconsideration

10-time WSOP winner and one of the most successful poker players in history, Doyle Brunson, decided to retire in 2018 after concerns over his wife’s health. However, when prompted for further comments, he confirmed that he would only quit partially and still play high-stake events in Vegas.  Nonetheless, he no longer is buying into other competitions.

From Poker Tables to Politics

Lithuanian poker pro, Antanas Guoga, is one of those players who chose an unlikely path after retirement. In 2014, he decided to pursue a life in politics and become an MP in the EU parliament. Five years prior to this, he had launched his own European poker website called TonyBet.Com in partnership with a Swedish gambling operator. He has since been heavily involved in the cryptocurrency and blockchain markets, as well as developing health and fitness apps.

The Philanthropist and Philosopher

Haseeb Qureshi can be deemed a good Samaritan after putting his love for professional poker to bed in 2013. He only took US$10,000 of his winnings to start a new life and donated the remaining money to several charities. During this time, he travelled the world, discovered new languages, cultures, and world ideologies before returning to the university and publishing a book titled How to Be a Poker Player: The Philosophy of Poker. His work discusses the logistical approach needed to be successful in the game.

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