Poker is played by millions across the world, but only some have the toughness and knowledge to take their game to the next level and become professional poker players.
Poker professionals play in the largest cash games in the world and are regulars on the tournament circuit. Many are sponsored by some of the largest online poker rooms and make large amounts of money just on these lucrative deals alone.
Old time professional players started in card rooms long before internet poker, but today's online game breeds a new breed of poker pros, the multi-tabling internet grinders. The unique cast of characters is one of the reasons why poker has risen to the level of popularity it is today.
However, the world of a high stakes professional poker player is not for everyone. Most professional players have studied the game for years and played the game 50 or more hours a week until they were skilled enough to make a living. Even more have gone broke at least once. It is the dedication to their craft that makes their accomplishments most impressive.
We've profiled a number of professional players below, each with unique stories and different upbringings.
Ivey is one of the few poker players in the world who can beat large field tournaments and the biggest cash games in the world. Some regard him as the most talented poker player of this generation.
Antonius is an avid cash game player and a regular at the Big Game at the Bellagio. A heads-up poker specialist and a former member of Team Full Tilt, Antonius has had great success playing in online cash games.
Phil Hellmuth is one of the world's most famous poker pros. In addition to his WSOP cashes and wins, Phil has won a variety of different tournaments and has over $17.4 million in career tournament winnings.
"Kid Poker", Daniel Negreanu may be the most recognizable face in poker today. He currently has $14.3 million in live tournament winnings and has four WSOP bracelets.
Unlike many poker professionals, Ilari Sahamies has made most of his money playing mostly online cash games. On PokerStars and Full Tilt, he has won at least $3.7 million in online cash games since 2006.
"Durrrr" or Tom Dwan is one of the world's most famous poker players. In addition to his online winnings, Tom has cashed in many WPT and WSOP events and has over $2.2 million in live tournament winnings.
Annie has cashed 38 times in WSOP events and won one WSOP bracelet in an Omaha Hi\Lo tournament. Her biggest tournament win was The Tournament of Champions with a two million dollar prize.
Doyle is a two-time World Series of Poker Main Event champion and has cashed in the event five other times. He has 10 WSOP bracelets and over $5.5 million in tournament winnings.
Though Jennifer has accumulated the vast majority of her wealth playing in high stakes cash games, She is a winner of two WSOP bracelets and has over $2.5 million in tournament cashes.
Gus Hansen is a WPT legend and in the WPT Hall of Fame - He has taken down three WPT titles and made seven final tables. He has just one WSOP bracelet, but his overall tournament earnings exceed $11 million.
Greenstein has amassed over $7.8 million in tournament winnings over his career. He is a two time World Poker Tour champion, has three WSOP bracelets and has cashed 46 times in WSOP events.
Tony G has over $2 million in live tournament earnings, including 15 WSOP cashes. He has also been on many high stakes live poker television programs, such as Poker After Dark.
Farha has three WSOP bracelets and 6 finals tables under his belt to go with over $2.8 million in final table winnings. However, tournament poker is not his primary game as he normally plays high stakes cash games.
In addition to his two WSOP bracelets in 2000, Ferguson has won three other bracelets and has 64 cashes. He is one of the most accomplished tournament players and has over $5 million in tournament winnings.
Erik Seidel is currently fifth in all time tournament winnings, with over $17.1 million. He was inducted into the Poker Hall of Fame in 2010.
Juanda has cashed in a hundred plus tournaments and has won over $14.9 million in tournament cashes. He currently has six WSOP bracelets and over 60 in the money finishes.
In 2012, Esfandiari won the largest tournament prize in the history of poker - $18.3 million. This win catapulted him to the top of the all-time money list. His career tournament earnings are just over $23.7 million.
Lederer has won many tournaments in his career including two WSOP bracelets and a 2002 WPT championship. His biggest win came in 2008, when he won the Aussie Millions taking down a $1.1 million prize.
Mike Sexton is known as one of the great ambassadors of the game of poker - he is a member of the Poker Hall of Fame. He has over $5.3 million in career tournament winnings.
Dave "Devilfish" Ulliott won his first WSOP bracelet in 2007 and has a long list of notable cashes. He has over $6 million in career tournament winnings.
Phil Galfond is an American professional poker player that has had most of his success on Full Tilt Poker. He has amassed millions of dollars of wins online and had success in live tournaments.
His overall tournament winnings are around $6.6 million. He is also a noted author, his "Harrington on Hold'em" books were record sellers and have been called the definitive book on cash games and tournaments.
A true gambler, Scotty could be a millionaire or homeless, depending on the time of day. Through trials, triumph and with a little help Scotty rose to become one of the highest earning poker players in history.
Daniel Cates quickly became one of the top players in the world shortly after graduating high school. He played in the highest stakes games online and beat many notable professionals.
Phil Laak has won one WSOP bracelet and also has a WPT title under his belt. In his live tournament career, Phil has eclipsed $2.7 million in tournament winnings.
Laliberte’s passion extends to poker, and in spite of his vast wealth and business success, he is considered to be a professional poker player as well active both at the biggest live tournaments and at the highest stakes online.
Liv Boeree continues to be a regular fixture on the European poker scene and has had a total of 5 cashes at EPT events, and has amassed over 2 million dollars in career winnings thus far.
Vanessa Selbst is the most successful female poker player of all time in terms of career winnings, which total over $9 million. Vanessa also still finds time to play online as well, as one of the sponsored pros at PokerStars.
In spite of very little live tournament success, he is one of the hottest poker pros over the last few years. Blom is an amazing talent and he continues to make a big splash on the poker scene.
Kara is very well established in the poker scene and is one of the most recognizable faces in poker today. We will likely see a lot more of her as time goes by.