Poker is a hard way to make an easy living. Some poker pros have the ability and skill to stay in the game 20, 30 or even 40 years and make enough money to live comfortably. Others enjoy a limited window of success and are forced to leave the game for greener pastures.
There are also the few select pros that leave the game to pursue more rewarding occupations. Today we are going to take a look at a few poker players that have left the game for other ventures and one pro that we think might do the same in the near future.
Phil Gordon – Chatbox
Phil Gordon’s professional career has been riddled with change. His first company, Netsys Technologies, was purchased by Cisco in 1997. He then spent four years traveling the world.
Afterwards, he became a major part of the poker world and was one of the early faces of the game following the Poker Boom. During his playing career he won a WPT title and over $2.78 million in live tournaments. His last pro cash was in 2011 when he cashed in the NBC National Heads-Up Championship.
Nowadays, Gordon is the President, CPO and Chairman of the Board for Chatbox.com. According to the Chatbox site, it is a “platform for digital messaging and collaboration between businesses and their customers over text, live chat, social and email.” The goal of the product is to allow better communication between customers and companies providing services online.
Annie Duke – Corporate Coach and Public Speaker
Annie Duke is one of the most successful female poker players in the history of the game. A former All-Time Money Leader among women, Duke amassed over $4.27 million in live tournament earnings along with a WSOP bracelet and a NBC National Heads-Up title.
Duke’s last venture in poker turned out being the catalyst that led to her departure from the game. She was the commissioner of the now defunct Epic Poker League. The league went into bankruptcy after less than a year in operation and Duke received a lot of the blame from the poker community.
Since walking away from poker, Duke has taken her experiences from the poker world and incorporated them into her new career as a corporate coach and public speak. According to her website, Duke now speaks on a “wide variety of topics in the field of behavioral economics and cognitive bias that can inform broad issues in the corporate culture including how to most effectively motivate your employees, how to foster innovation, how to avoid fear of failure as a demotivator, and how to make sure time and resources are being used most efficiently in your company.”
Alex Jacob – Currency Trader and Jeopardy Champion
From late 2005 through 2012, Alex Jacob was a household name in live tournament poker. His breakout year was in 2006 when he took down the now defunct United States Poker Championship and finished runner-up in the WPT Foxwoods Poker Classic.
Most of his tournament success came at the World Series of Poker. In 2007, he finished 3rd in a $1,500 NL Event and finished 4th in a $1,500 Event in 2009. He also finished 24th in the 2008 WSOP Main Event.
In 2012, Jacob left poker to focus on his career. He is presently a currency trader for The Gelber Group, a proprietary trading firm in Chicago. In 2015, Jacob made headlines by winning six straight episodes on Jeopardy! He came back later in the year to play in the Tournament of Champions, going on to win the tournament and $250,000.
Tony G – Politician
Antanas Gouga, known to the poker world as Tony G, has long held multiple hats in the poker world. In addition to being one of the most feared poker players during his career, he also ran PokerNews.com. PokerNews became the premier online poker news site in the world thanks to Tony G’s investment in the company.
His career at the tables was equally as impressive. He amassed over $4.82 million in live tournament earnings along with earning titles at the Moscow Millions and European Poker Championships.
In 2014, Tony G surprised the poker world when he left the game to become a member of European Parliament. Last year, he was included on the POLITICO 28 list that highlights the movers and shakers in European politics. He was also elected vice-chairman of the delegation to Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia.
Among his accomplishments, Tony G organized the SWITCH technology conference in 2015 that brought in over 110 speakers from 15 countries and various businesses such as Microsoft, Google and Amazon. The conference drew in over 5,000 youths and professionals. His goal is to make Lithuania a regional center for start-up companies.
We should point out that while Tony G may no longer be playing professionally, he is still involved heavily in the game. His site TonyBet is a popular site overseas and the top site in the world to play Open Face Chinese Poker.
Phil Ivey – Various Business Ventures
Ok, Phil Ivey isn’t exactly retired from playing professional poker but one has to wonder if he might be planning to do so in the next few years. Ivey has been busy over the last few years with several business ventures.
Among the ventures that failed to really get off the ground was Ivey Poker. However, the site did spin off the popular training site Ivey League. That site is still in operation with a couple dozen pros providing expert coaching.
Ivey also has ventured into the boxing and entertainment world, forming All-In Entertainment back in 2013. That company reportedly represents several pro athletes and entertainment figures. Ivey was also approved for a license to run a medical marijuana dispensary in Las Vegas but we’re not sure whether the 10-time WSOP bracelet winner will go that route or not.
Ivey’s most recent business venture is PhilIveyDFS, a Daily Fantasy Sports site that will run on the iTEAM Network. This site is naturally hoping that the activity will receive regulation in the near future in some states in order for the company to cash in on the lucrative DFS market.
Ivey should be inducted into the Poker Hall of Fame in 2016, further increasing his marketability. Many poker players try and diversify to give them an alternative source of income. Should one of Ivey’s side businesses start producing significant income, don’t be surprised to see him walk away from full-time poker and focus on making the easy money.