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Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous Poker Players

Posted by Davida Mintz, June 16, 2014

Dan Bilzerian lives it upThink you have to be a billionaire like Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg or Oprah to live like the rich and famous? Not in the world of high-stakes poker. There, the limits are so high they call them “nosebleeds.” The world’s richest poker players are worth upwards of $100 million. They spend their winnings on luxuries that include the most expensive cars, upscale homes and high-priced watches. Popular poker players regularly rub elbows with Hollywood celebrities and professional athletes, attracting fame to go with their fortunes. Televised tournaments, along with shows like "High Stakes Poker", "Poker After Dark" and the recently released "WPT ALPHA8 for Super High Rollers" turn popular poker players into celebrities. With their newfound superstar status and mega-million dollar paydays, let’s take a look at the lifestyles of the rich and famous poker players.

 

Famous Female Poker Player

French-American professional poker player Vanessa Rousso is the life of every party and the smartest one in the room. Whether she’s taking over the deejay duties at a Las Vegas nightclub, arm wrestling in Brazil, or finishing first in tournaments around the world, Rousso radiates energy. She needs, it because she can expect plenty of friends to crash at her Las Vegas house, which happens to be the best party pad ever built.

A natural beauty, fame came knocking on Rousso’s door. The former spokesmodel for GoDaddy.com posed for the 2009 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition. When it’s time to splurge, Rousso heads to her favorite car dealer. Her last car was a Lamborghini, but she traded it in for a Bentley GT. With $3,513,841 in lifetime poker winnings, she exceeded the $1 million mark at age 24. An ambitious professional, Rousso stayed in law school, and is now one of the world’s richest female poker players.

 

Poker Baller?

Some young, rich players get carried away with their newfound money and fame. A member of WPT’s original “One’s to Watch,” 26-year-old Matt Marafioti, gave viewers a tour of his 6,000 square foot penthouse with a panoramic view of the Las Vegas strip. He unveiled a walk-in closet filled with top designer names including, Armani, Dolce&Gabbana, Gucci, and Burberry. Marafioti treats himself to shopping sprees and gourmet meals at upscale restaurants where he’s known to be a generous tipper. In this YouTube video, Marafioti lets you be the judge, “Does this lavish lifestyle make him a poker baller?”

Marafioti is a hard-core poker baller, but he has a great sense of humor about it all. Friends say they idolize him and he is living the dream of every twenty-something man and woman.

 

dream of poker baller lifestyle

 

Super-Rich and Secluded

On February’s "Two plus Two PokerCast", Phil Ivey assured listeners that he does not live the poker baller lifestyle. With that out of the way, only a select few can afford the luxuries that that come with being Phil Ivey.

Ivey's beachfront home in Cabo San Lucas is on the edge of the Pacific Ocean. A hot tub and infinity pool lead straight out to the sand. Ivey shared these stunning photos with followers on Instagram. He says his private chef is the best, making him high protein, low fat, low carb delicious meals. Satisfied after dinner, the famous Ivey can get some alone time walking along the beach in front of his home.

Phil Ivey beach house

Ivey’s accommodations are equally luxurious when he travels. As soon as he enters a casino, the famous poker player is greeted and escorted to a complimentary suite reserved for only the biggest ‘whales.’ Ivey travels for tournaments and high-stakes cash games, while exploring the local culture along the way. He’s famous worldwide, but the autograph seekers seem to multiply when he comes back to Vegas. In 2010, the Aria opened a high-limit poker room in his honor, named The Ivy room.

 

Dedicated Golfer

When Ivey’s not gambling, he heads for the exit to take in a round of golf at the most exclusive clubs in the city. From the Shadow Creek Golf Course in Las Vegas, to Capital Golf Club in Heatherton, Australia and Mission Hills in Haikou, China, Ivey has golfed the world’s finest courses.

Phil Ivey golf

While golfing in Aruba, Ivey made a prop bet he was expecting to lose. Poker buddy Joe Cassidy came across a ridiculously difficult shot, and gave Ivey 200:1 odds to make it. Ivey was ready to pay off an easy $1000 to Cassidy if he missed, as expected. Instead, the ball went in the hole. Ivey relived his victory on February’s "Two Plus Two PokerCast", but said the fun was over the second he saw the look on his good friend’s face after realizing he’d have to fork over $200,000. Ivey told him just to pay when he could.

 

Entrepreneur

Ivey didn't get to be one of the world’s richest poker players by spending everything he wins. Ivey’s a pro at putting his money to work for him. Just like he knows which players to stake, he knows how to spot a profitable business venture. On the heels of Ivey Poker’s release, he teamed up with a professional basketball player and a sports and entertainment lawyer/entrepreneur to start their own business. They named it All In Entertainment, a sports and entertainment promotional firm. High profile clients include professional boxer Andre Ward, professional sports broadcaster James Brown, and Denver Nuggets guard Ty Lawson.

Ivey knows his good fortune comes with the responsibility to give back. In 2008, he and his mother founded the Budding Ivory Foundation in honor of his grandfather, Leonard ‘Bud’ Simmons. The charity's mission is to provide educational opportunities to empower at-risk-children. In the same year, Ivey threw a fundraiser for underprivileged children that raised $260,000. The following year, Ivey hosted the Congressional Award Poker Charity Tournament.

 

dream of being the best poker player

 

What is Phil Ivey’s Net Worth?

The question on everyone’s mind is, “How much money does Phil Ivey have?” It takes a consistent cash flow to keep up with his lifestyle. Ivey's net worth remains a mystery. The majority of his wealth comes from high stakes cash tables around the world. Even without those figures, we have some reliable information to work with. Hendon Mob lists the nine-time bracelet winner with live winnings of $21,252,119. Ivey just made his highest score for $AUD4 million in February when he won the Aussie Millions Super High Roller Event for the second time.

Turning to his online results, High Stakes DB has been tracking Ivey’s record since May 2007. He made the bulk of his money pre-Black Friday. High Stacks DB posted his live winnings as $19,242,744.  After Black Friday, the losses started to mount under Ivey's alternative screen name “Polarizing.” His online poker worth is said to be around $14.75 million.

 

The Playboy of Poker

Considered the best player in the world, Phil Ivey only has one outspoken detractor: controversial investment banker turned high-stakes poker player Dan Bilzerian. In a January 2014 interview with Card Player magazine, Bilzerian suggested that Ivey just went broke. Ivey responded, “People can say what they’re going to say…I don’t really feed into that. His opinion is his opinion…He really doesn’t know my financial status.”

Already a millionaire many times over, Bilzerian claims to have won over $50 million in high-stakes cash games, an amount that cannot be verified. In the world he lives in, it is hard for Bilzerian to conceptualize the value of money. In February, after taking a loss, he told Twitter followers, "It’s so weird, sometimes losing 100k really pisses me off, but then sometimes losing a million doesn’t phase me.”

This rich poker player loves his toys: yachts, private jets, a helicopter and four homes in Los Angeles, Las Vegas, San Diego and Montana. Bilzerian won’t think twice about spending whatever it takes for the right car. He owns more than a dozen of the finest automobiles, including a $190 thousand Mercedes SUV, an AC Cobra racecar, a Bentley, a Ferrari and a Lamborghini. Most of all, Bilzerian loves to show off his latest treasures to his more than 2 million Instagram followers who indulge in his fantasy lifestyle.

Dan Bilzerian

Bilzerian has a passion for girls, guns and his Cat Smushball who currently has 177,502 followers on her personal Instagram account.

 

Famous Poker Players Gone Broke

While players like Bilzerian seem to always run good, others suffer more than their share of bad beats on their way to poker fame and fortune.

Five-time WSOP bracelet winner Scotty Nguyen started his career at the dealer’s side of the poker table. When he first sat down to play, he walked away empty handed. It didn’t take long for his game to improve. For the first time in his life, Nguyen was a rich poker player. The cash was coming in faster than he could spend it, but nothing stays this good forever. A bad losing streak and too much drinking finally cost him everything. According to his personal website, “He has lost and amassed his bankroll numerous times in poker, yet he’s always overcome it.”

This time he’d have the help of famous player Mike Matusow who would recognize Nguyen’s skill, and partially stake him in the 1988 World Series of Poker. It turned out to be a great investment - Nguyen won the Main Event worth $1 million and became a champion. Life has come full circle for Nguyen who was inducted into the Poker Hall of Fame this year. To date, his total live winnings stand at just over $11.75 million. He’s number 14 in the list of Poker’s All Time Top Moneymakers from around the World.

At 34-years-old, David “Chino” Rheem is number 55 on the same list. With $7 million in winnings, you’d think he’d live like a god. Instead, he got in over his head. He continues to make a living playing poker while faced with staggering debt. Rheem elaborates on the situation in this YouTube video:

 

Final Thoughts

Look beyond the cash and the cars and you'll see that the greatest luxury rich poker players have earned is freedom. They show up to work when they choose, never punch a time card and don’t have to worry about a boss breathing down their neck telling them what to do. With so much money in the bank, rich and famous poker players can live any lifestyle they choose. While some of them could even retire to a remote island, most choose to continue doing what they love more than anything else - playing poker.

Photo Credits: Instagram

What did you think about this article? Comment below and share it with your friends!

 


Davida MintzDavida Mintz is a poker player and contributor to Titan Poker. A former television news reporter, Davida’s interviewed presidential candidates and celebrities, even one serial killer. As a poker writer, she’s thrilled to add a World Series of Poker Main Event champion to that list.

 


 

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