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Most poker fans see someone win millions of dollars at events like the WSOP Main Event and assume the cash is going straight into their account. The truth is far different. In today's daily WSOPE video we speak to Main Event runner-up Jesse Sylvia and EPT Grand Final champion Mohsin Charania about the truth behind huge poker scores. Between them they've won over $8 million so they know a thing or two about the subject.
Matt: Welcome back to the WSOP Europe. Today we talk to the pros to find out the truth behind winning millions of dollars in poker. Few people in this world ever have a chance to win a million dollars, and when it happens, it's definitely something special.
Jesse: I mean, it was an amazing feeling and to have such a gigantic score not have millions and all of a sudden win millions. It's an incredible thing and it took me, it's still taking me time to figure it out because I still, when people ask me like, "Are you aware that you're a millionaire?"
I'm like, "Not really, I just feel like a kid who's more well off than he was a little while ago."
Mohsin: Before I had won EPT Grand Final, I'd won a lot online and had a couple good scores live and nothing that big and then just like that I won EPT Grand Final for I think it was, like, $1.8 million or something. So it's overwhelming. It's weird to say that you think you deserve it because you put all the time in and then as soon as you get it, you're like nobody deserves to win almost $2 million in one week.
Matt: But poker players condition themselves to deal with bad beats and big losses and that might come with a price. Sometimes when they get that big score, they don't even react.
Jesse: Yeah, as poker players we do try to become numb to the swings, it makes the everyday up and downs seem a lot easier. But I just really believe that there's nobody who can go through the experience of winning a million or millions of dollars and not be completely elated by that. I mean, there's some pretty big sickos out there like a Grinder and stuff that might just win a tournament and be like, "Oh whatever, another million." But I think for almost everyone that feeling is just too powerful.
Mohsin: I think playing online poker definitely numbs your experiences towards winning and losing money. When I won that tournament I didn't really have a reaction to it. I was just like, "Oh, okay cool." That was pretty awesome, but you can't tell in someone's face and then it's funny because you'll see someone win, someone that's more of an amateur win and you'll see pure joy.
Jesse: There will never be a time in my life at least where I'll win millions of dollars in a tournament and not just feel absolutely crazy afterwards because that's a big experience.
Mohsin: If I won a bracelet at the World Series this summer or when I got like fifth, I would have probably been tears because like now I actually appreciate how big a deal it is winning live tournaments because they come around less often and therefore so much more money than playing internet tournaments where it's not that big a deal, almost.
Commentator: The river card. It's a brick. Charania is the champion. He pockets more than €1.3 million and he will lift that trophy.
Matt: And the numbers you see on T.V. can be deceiving. Whether it's taxes, backing deals or swapping action with other players, the winners are rarely walking away with the entire first place prize.
Jesse: There's almost nobody who's won, you know, you see them on T.V. and they win $2 million, $3 million whatever it is and actually took home $3 million. They're always they have to pay taxes. They have to pay off anyone that they sold action to or swapped action with. Pros usually will swap out, so I'll have 5% of somebody or they'll have 5% of me and it might be over multiple people.
You'll win a million dollars and you'll give out, maybe $100,000 worth of it in swaps. So you'll have $900,000. You'll give out half of it in taxes, say like $450,000. That's assuming you're not backed and a lot of them are backed or sell action. Say you sell 30% of yourself, so then you're losing 30% of that as well.
So when you get a million dollar score, if you're a pro and you're grinding on the circuit, you probably are making $300,000 or $400,000 and that's very optimistically saying.
Jesse: I would say 99% of the time they're not taking home that entire some. You know people don't understand, they see a guy and they won $3 million in a tournament. Like, oh they have $3 million they bust out of a 10k and like oh that guy will be all right, he's got $2.99 million now, but that's not really what happens.
Matt: But when it comes down to it, it's about more than just money in the bank. It's about the freedom and opportunity that money represents.
Jesse: When we got to the final three players at the World Series, I knew if I got third or better I would have basically locked up enough money to get my mom a house at home. And so when we got down to three, I wasn't even excited about the money, but I was excited to go over and tell her that she wasn't going to have to pay rent anymore and I thought that that was like a really incredible feeling.
So it's not always like, "Oh hey, I'm now a millionaire." But it's something similar that's like, "Oh hey, and now I have the money to do what I've always wanted to do in life." And that's really what it's all about. If it's sitting in the bank, it really isn't creating any enjoyment for anybody.