Top US Poker Pros

Top Players When you consider the winnings of top professional poker players, plenty of numbers sail through your mind no doubt. And you’d be forgiven for wondering how the love of a card game could turn regular guys into bona fide millionaires.

But that is exactly what happened with the top 10 US poker earners. They took an ages old card game, fell in love, and then took it a few more important steps further than your average poker fan. Some, like Jamie Gold, may boast day jobs to compete with their poker playing stardom, but many of the top poker players can safely lay claim to millions of dollars in earnings simply from playing a game.

So who are these poker greats? We look at the top 10 money winners that hail from the USA.

Antonio Esfandiari

Iran-born Antonio Esfandiari moved to California as a kid and immediately knew what he wanted in life. That is, money and lots of it, in order to achieve that thing many refer to as the American Dream. But making his education a priority isn't what brought him to the poker player he is today. After a roommate introduced Esfandiari to poker, Antonio "the magician" Esfandiari was born. And at 33, he can lay claim to feats like an $18 million win at the World Series of Poker Big One for One Tournament in 2012.

Phil Ivey

Phil Ivey, known to many as the "Tiger Woods of Poker," but without all of that philandering business, is another guy in the prime of his life. He began playing poker with his co-workers and buddies for fun, as many do, and quickly realized that there was even more fun to be had in the winning side of things.

In fact, Ivey took such a liking to the game that he got his hands on a fake I.D. as a kid so that he could play poker in Atlantic City. Now a 10-time WSOP bracelet winner, he lives in Vegas - perfect for the second highest earning poker player in the US. And it isn't uncommon to find him at the poker tables in the Bellagio. Most recently, in February, he took home AU$4,000,000 at the Aussie Millions LK Boutique $250,000 Challenge, making it the biggest win of his career yet.

Erik Seidel

In 1992, Erik Seidel won his first WSOP bracelet. In 2007, he won his 8th. Always a gambler in some capacity, Seidel was a backgammon player first, before being drawn to the stock market, and finally settling on poker. Which, judging by his track record, was a smart move indeed for the number-minded guy. At the Sixth Season of World Poker Tour in 2008, he took home winnings totaling $992,890. Then, in 2011, he took 2nd place in the $20,000 Buy-in-6-Max No Limit Hold'em Tournament at the Epic Poker League with winnings of $604,330.

Daniel Colman

Poker in the flesh is all well and good, but players like 23-year-old Daniel Colman prove that online poker playing pays off. Under the names "mrGR33N13" and "riyyc225", Colman remains the first poker player to ever win $1 million in hyper-turbo tournaments in one calendar year. And this year, he took home $15.3 million in the 2014 World Series of Poker Big One for One Drop. Clearly, this baby-faced poker pro can excel whether he is in front of a computer screen or a dealer.

Phil Hellmuth

Phil Hellmuth Jr attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison for a whole three years before dropping out to play poker on a more full-time basis. As a poker player who has won 13 - count 'em, that is a one and a three - world championships at the World Series of Poker, Hellmuth is a true poker hero in his own right. At the Big One for One Drop in 2012, he finished fourth with a none-too-shabby $2,645,333. Obviously his best move was becoming a college drop out.

Michael Mizrachi

Before Michael Mizrachi became a poker champion, he was going to school to become a doctor. But when the poker bug bit him hard, he dropped out to dedicate his time to the game. This whole dropping out of college to follow the cards is beginning to show a trend.

But maybe Mizrachi's 2005 first place winnings of $1,859,909 at the L.A. Poker Classic could play a role in paying for all of that schooling he declined to finish. Still, it would be hard to ever go back. Especially with feats like a $1,559,046 win at the 2010 $50,000 The Poker Player's Championship. And when you've got a family of poker players, like twin Eric and older brother Robert, you could almost say there is no choice in the matter, since the game is clearly in their blood.

Scott Seiver

Scott Seiver is another poker youngster who at 29 has already laid claim to wins like $425,330 at the $25K High Roller Tournament at the L.A. Poker Classic. And in 2012 he took home a win that totaled at more than $1 million at the Bahamas $100K NLHE Super High Roller Tournament. Not too shabby for an Ohio-born kid who gave up investment banking to be a poker star.

Jamie Gold

There is something to be said for nature being absolutely prevalent when paired with nurture. Such is likely the case with Jamie Gold, who grew up around cards with a poker playing mom and gin rummy enthusiast grandfather.

Poker star Johnny Chan was further inspiration for Gold, though, as they worked together on pro poker events. Now, Gold's live tournament winnings total at more than $12,100,100. Of course it helps that he is a bit of a power player in every aspect of his life, working as a TV producer and agent, too.

Jason Mercier

It is rather kismet that Jason Mercier was studying to be a math teacher when he realized that the numbers were better with poker. Like many, he started out playing with friends. But when he saw Chris Moneymaker win $2,500,000 at the 2003 World Series of Poker, he saw an opportunity to get himself a chunk of that poker change.

At his first ever live poker appearance in 2008 at the European Poker Tour Sanremo, he won a staggering $1,372,893. And just six months later, he took 6th place in Barcelona with $324,946. Just this past June, he took 2nd place at the Bellagio $100,000 Summer High Roller VI, with $1,622,181.

Scotty Nguyen

Scotty Nguyen was always a pretty avid bad boy. Born in Vietnam, he came to the U.S. at 14 and shortly thereafter got expelled from school for his underground poker games. Naturally, he saw himself fit for dealer school when he turned 21. But playing, he soon realized, was always his first love.

Known for maintaining that image with passionate outbursts and sometimes alcohol-fueled eruptions, Scotty can still lay claim to ample winnings throughout his poker career. And in 2008, he won $1,989,120 at the $50,000 H.O.R.S.E. World Championship.