Should I quit my job and become a professional poker player?
Should I quit my studies to make a living playing poker?
These are questions I get asked very often and I always give the same answer: No way! Am I clear enough?
If you really want to become a professional poker player, then don’t rush to such major life decisions. Start spending your free time playing poker alongside your job or studies. Study and learn all about the game and gain as much gaming experience as possible.
Before you even think about quitting your job to play poker full time, you should earn more money with poker than in your current job. Just because you’ve won a bigger tournament doesn’t mean you already know all about poker and are ready to live a professional poker life. You need to continuously make a profit for at least 6 months, to the extent that you have a good bankroll and can easily cover all your monthly living costs. Only when you have reached this level can you think about whether it makes sense to make a living playing poker.
Even if you’ve been making good winnings for months on end, which you could live off without any problems, you should still think very carefully about becoming a professional poker player. Poker is a very nice hobby and playing it in your spare time is a lot of fun if you love this game. But if you are a professional poker player, you have to play 5 to 6 days a week. Over time, playing poker becomes a sometimes very hard job. I love every opportunity to play poker, but for a lot of people it can become a real pain in the ass at some point.
In the tournament world, you can play very well, but it’s not uncommon that you don’t make a big profit for months or even years. In cash games the time spent is sometimes really brutal. As a cash-game pro, you want to play against people who play less well than you do or are less focused. That means you often start very late when other players get tired and play more than they should. You may play from late in the evening until 11 am and then sleep all afternoon. These times can be difficult because you also have a social life.
Another risk is that you may not play enough. It takes an enormous self-discipline to sit at the poker table for enough hours. Without a boss or a normal work environment, it can sometimes be difficult to spend enough time at the table to bring in the earnings you need every month, so before you make such a drastic life decision and before you even start asking questions like the ones at the top of this article – you need to know that poker earns you more money than any other job. You must have had profitable times long ago to prove your poker skills. You must have invested enough time in the poker game to know that you really love it and will continue to love it even if it becomes the center of your professional life. You must also have experienced what it means to endure long durations – because these are part of a professional poker player just like the winnings.
If you are really sure that you have all the prerequisites to become a professional poker player, I look forward to seeing you at the poker table. But life as a pro is anything but easy – so don’t get the wrong idea and make such a far-reaching and drastic life decision based on it.
German professional poker player to pay back taxes in Spain
The German-Iranian poker player Hossein Ensan is to pay taxes on winnings from gambling, although he has already taxed them in Germany. Before the European Poker Tour stops in Barcelona, he had made the case public in the media.
The European Poker Tour will be in Barcelona from 21 August 2018 to 2 September 2018. It was during this time that it became known that the poker player Hossein Ensan was asked to pay tax on his winnings from a poker tournament in Spain.
Spain is one of the countries with one of the toughest tax rates ever. I had already reported in the past about the professional chess player Paco Vallejo, who was supposed to pay 500,000 Euros in taxes for online poker winnings, although he had lost the winnings several times. In the present case, however, it is a novelty that the Spanish tax authorities are also making demands on foreign players.
What happened? Why do Spanish authorities make demands?
Hossein Ensan participated in the 2014 European Poker Tour Main Event in Barcelona. Hossein Ensan, Andre Lettau and Sam Phillips were among the last three players, a deal brought Hossein Ensan just under 652,667 euros.
According to his own statements, he had taxed the winnings normally when he returned to Germany and clarified the procedure with the authorities of the Federal Republic of Germany. He is considered a professional poker player in Germany and must have his income taxed in accordance with the Income Tax Act.
Somewhat strange is that Spain makes demands on the poker player, since he is ultimately registered in Germany. There has actually been a double taxation agreement between Germany and Spain since 2012, which is intended to prevent the same money from being taxed by two different countries.
Last year, the German tax authorities received a letter from Spain. One should collect the taxes for the profit from poker. Of the almost 650,000 euros in profits, 214,643.67 euros are to be paid as taxes to the Spanish tax authorities. In addition, there will be a late payment surcharge of 20,790 euros. This adds up to the total amount of 235,433.67 euros.
How exactly did the whole thing work out?
Hossein has financial advisors to help him settle his winnings. With his prize money of 652,667 Euros, another 100,000 Euros and two 60,000 Euros had to be deducted for staking deals with friendly players. Since he had fixed them in writing, the German tax office recognized the expenses without any problems and he only had to pay tax on his actual profit of 432,667 Euros, which he did.
Strange incident in Spain 2015
One year later he played again at the Main Event of the European Poker Tour in Spain. On the third day, he was in the top 10, but then two Spanish tax officials approached him shortly before the tournament started. They asked if he was Hossein Ensan. He affirmed it. Afterwards he should sign a document in Spanish language. He probably asked a friend who spoke Spanish what was written on it. It was just a confirmation that he was Hossein Ensan and had won the corresponding amount in 2014.
The officials only gave him the choice to sign or to come to the tax office. He chose the former because he wanted to participate in the tournament. Somewhat taken away from the match, however, he retired early.