Pestaño: Comparing earnings in poker and chess

IN recent years, a steady stream of chess masters have taken up poker as a way to earn additional income. Chess players who have been successful to name a few are Jeff Sarwer, Ylon Scwartz, Dan Harrington, Almira Skripchenko, Dinara Khaziveva, James Obst, Alexander Grischuk and my topic last week Walter Browne.

There are many more. In fact, poker Listings has cited chess players as the most successful group in poker. Locally, examples are Cepca members Ben Dimaano, Ruel Hortelano and Nicnic Climako and Renante dela Cerna (also a national scrabble champion), Galileo Roma, IM Kimkim Yap and chessmoso.

The biggest tournaments ,both in attendance and prize money, is the World Series of Poker (WSOP) currently on-going. It started during the last week of May and will end in the second week of July every year. This year is the 46th edition and consists of 67 events with buy-ins ranging from $1,000 to $10,000. Prizes depend upon the number of entrants, which ranges from about 2,000 to 8,773 for the main event (record in 2006).

The winner of the WSOP Main Event is considered as the world champion of poker. It started the other day and will last for four days.

If close to 7,000 people enter like they did last year, the top winner could earn an $8 million prize and a gold bracelet that tournament organizers value at $500,000.

The 2006 Main Event, won by Jamie Gold, was the largest single poker tournament by prize pool and by entrant numbers in history; Gold pocketed $12 million for his victory.

However, the all-time leader is currently Antonio Esfandiari, who has not won a Main Event. He collected a record-breaking first prize of $18.3 million in July 2012 when he won The Big One for One Drop, a charitable WSOP event with a $1 million buy-in. The players in second and third place in the all-time earnings list, Daniel Colman and Daniel Negreanu, have also yet to win a Main Event in Las Vegas, although Negreanu won the inaugural WSOP Asia Pacific Main Event in 2013. They finished in the top two places in the 2014 Big One for One Drop event, winning $15.3 million and $8.3 million respectively.

Online poker is also big money. The top five lifetime winners are Phil Ivey ($19,242,000), Patrik Antonius ($11,315,000), Phil Galfond ($10,035,000), Di Dang ($7,411,000) and Daniel Cates ($7,299,000).

A single win in poker alone is much more than the combined total earnings of the top 10 chess players in the world. There is also a large gap between the two players who have participated in the World Chess Championship match (Magnus Carlsen and Viswanathan Anand), and everyone else. The total estimated prizewinnings of the world’s top 10 chess players has increased from $5,360,000 in 2012 to $7,510,000 in 2013. There are no figures available for 2014.

Carlsen won an estimated $2,200,000 and Anand $1,500,000. The rest of the top 10 are Fabiano Caruana ($640,000), Vladimir Kramnik ($600,000), Levon Aronian ($500,000), Sergey Karjakin ( $450,000), Hikaru Nakamura ($440,000), Boris Gelfand ($415,000), Veselin Topalov ($390,000) and Peter Svidler ($315,000). Wesley So also won the biggest prize of $100,000 in a Swiss event in Las Vegas last year.

However there is a catch here. The entry fees of poker are up to 10 times that of chess (take note of the $1million buy-in in the Big One for One Drop !) .In fact, the buy-ins plus re-buys and sometimes add-ons determine the prizes in poker, unlike in chess where the big prizes are paid for by sponsors.

Also top chess players are usually given appearance fees and refund of expenses for big tournaments but not in poker.


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