The Salaries of Your Favorite Sports TV Analysts
Sports wouldn’t be what they are without the athletes, coaches, and fans who have come together to make sports what they are today. But sports media has also played a major role in the growth of sports across the U.S. and around the world. Reporters and analysts from Erin Andrews to Shaquille O’Neal can make millions covering the sports we all love so very much. So how much do they get paid, and who gets paid the most? There’s only one way to find out.
Lisa Salters: $235,000
ESPN’s Lisa Salters is one of the most well-known sports reporters in the U.S. The former collegiate basketball player pursued a career in broadcasting and blossomed into a star of the industry. After spending seven years at a local station in Baltimore, Salters joined ABC, where she covered the O.J. Simpson murder trial.
Salters has been a reporter for ABC and ESPN since 2000. She has covered the Olympics, the World Cup, and the Super Bowl. Currently, Salters is a sideline reporter for ESPN’s coverage of “Monday Night Football” and ABC’s coverage of the NBA. She makes an estimated $235,000 per year for her efforts.
Mike Golic: $5 million
Currently a co-host of Golic and Wingo, Mike Golic is best known for his time as a co-host of ESPN Radio’s “Mike & Mike.” The show was a staple of ESPN’s programming for 17 years, and Golic became a household name in radio broadcasting. The former NFL defensive lineman first joined ESPN in 1995, and he has evolved into a face of the network.
In addition to hosting his radio show, Golic also works as an analyst for ESPN and ESPN2 coverage of the NFL and college football. Golic also hosts a show called “The Lighter Side of Sports,” which features highlights, bloopers, and gags.
Molly Qerim: $500,000
ESPN’s Molly Qerim is best known for her role as an anchor and moderator for “First Take.” Working alongside Max Kellerman (who just missed the list) and Stephen A. Smith, Qerim has helped the show thrive as one of the highest-rated sports talk shows on TV.
Prior to her time with ESPN, Qerim was the host of “NFL AM” and “NFL Fantasy Live” for NFL Network. Qerim has covered an array of major sports events, including the Super Bowl, the NBA Draft, the NBA All-Star Game, and the MLB All-Star Game. She is married to former NBA player and current ESPN analyst Jalen Rose, who is also one of the network’s highest-paid talents.
Al Michaels: $6 million
NBC Sports’ Al Michaels is one of the most successful and recognizable faces in sports broadcasting. He is best known for his many years calling play-by-play of NFL games, including nearly two decades with ABC’s “Monday Night Football” and more than a decade with NBC’s “Sunday Night Football.”
Michaels has been a part of numerous famous calls in sports, including the Miracle on Ice at the 1980 Winter Olympics, the earthquake-interrupted Game 3 of the 1989 World Series, and the Patriots’ last-second victory over the Seahawks in Super Bowl XLIX. His call of the Miracle on Ice is widely considered one of the best play-by-play calls in the history of sports broadcasting.
Holly Rowe: $800,000
College football sideline reporter Holly Rowe has been with ESPN since August 1998. Over the decades, she has covered countless regular-season games and postseason bowl games. In addition to her sideline reporting duties, Rowe also serves as a play-by-play broadcaster for a variety of sports.
Rowe has done play-by-play for both men’s and women’s college basketball, the Women’s World Cup, the Running of the Bulls, women’s college volleyball, swimming, and track & field. She also serves as a backup for NBA and WNBA telecasts as a sideline reporter. The longtime ESPN employee is estimated to have a salary of about $800,000.
Joe Buck: $6 million
Fox Sports’ Joe Buck is a three-time National Sportscaster of the Year and one of the most iconic sports broadcasters in history. He’s served as the play-by-play announcer for every World Series since 1996, with the exceptions of 1997 and 1999. Buck has also done play-by-play for the U.S. Open (golf) since 2015.
Buck serves as the play-by-play announcer for Fox Sports’ NFL and MLB coverage, and he has become a staple of modern sports broadcasting. The son of legendary sports broadcaster Jack Buck, Joe has followed in his father’s footsteps and is now estimated to make $6 million per year.
Wendi Nix: $800,000
ESPN’s Wendi Nix is the current co-host of the network’s number one program, “NFL Live.” Her career as a sports anchor took her from a local Boston network to Fox Sports Net, New England Sports Network and WPDE in South Carolina.
Now a co-host for the number one program on ESPN, it’s fair to say Nix has come a long way. The anchor primarily handles coverage for the NFL, but she also helps out with college football games that feature teams from the New England area. She earns an estimated $800,000 per year working for the worldwide leader in sports.
Skip Bayless: $6 million
Best known for his role as a commentator on ESPN’s “First Take” with Stephen A. Smith, Skip Bayless is one of the most recognizable faces in sports talk television. Bayless began his career in print journalism and radio before shifting over to television in the early 1990s. But it wasn’t until he joined First Take that Bayless’ career would truly take off.
Bayless and Smith formed one of TV’s most recognizable pairings on First Take, but Bayless would leave for Fox Sports in 2016. He now hosts “Skip and Shannon: Undisputed” on Fox Sports 1 alongside Hall of Fame tight end Shannon Sharpe.
Pam Oliver: $1 million
Fox Sports’ Pam Oliver has been a staple of sports media for more than 30 years. Oliver began her broadcasting career like many others, bouncing around local networks for nearly a decade before she eventually joined ESPN in 1993. Oliver joined Fox Sports two years later, working as a sideline reporter with the network’s top broadcast duo, Patt Summerall and John Madden.
Oliver also joined TNT in 2005, working as a sideline reporter for the network’s coverage of the NBA playoffs. Meanwhile, she continued to serve as the NFL’s top sideline reporter up until 2014 when she was replaced by Erin Andrews. Oliver continues to report from the sideline with Fox’s second NFL crew.
Colin Cowherd: $6 million
One of the biggest names in sports talk television, Colin Cowherd is one of the highest-paid members of Fox Sports 1. Cowherd joined in ESPN in 2003 and hosted a radio show on ESPN radio. He would also become one of the original hosts of “SportsNation.”
Cowherd was suspended from ESPN in 2015 and left the network, soon joining Fox Sports 1. At FS1, he hosts “The Herd with Colin Cowherd,” which is the network’s top-rated studio program. He was also a host of “Speak For Yourself.” Cowherd was one of the first big names to join FS1, and his contract is estimated to be worth $6 million per year.
Leeann Tweeden: $1 million
A model, radio broadcaster, and sports commentator, Leeann Tweeden is one of the most versatile talents in sports media. Her modeling career began when she won first place in the Venus International Model Search while working as a hostess at Hooters. The competition opened a new door to the sports media industry, and Tweeden took advantage.
Tweeden hosted her own show on Fox Sports Network for six years, and in 2008, she became the third hostess of NBC’s “Poker After Dark” series. She has assisted on the pre and postgame shows for the Los Angeles Angels, as well as FS1’s “UFC Tonight.” Between her modeling and broadcasting careers, Tweeden is estimated to make roughly $1 million per year.
Michael Wilbon: $6 million
Longtime Washington Post journalist Michael Wilbon is one of the most recognizable faces in sports media. The journalist spent more than 30 years with the Washington Post, becoming one of the best deadline writers in sports. In 2001, he made the decision to co-host ESPN’s “Pardon the Interruption” along Tony Kornheiser. The show has been a fixture in sports talk television for almost two decades.
Wilbon, however, is more than just the co-host of PTI. He also serves as an NBA studio analyst for both ESPN and ABC, often gracing the sidelines at some of the most important NBA matchups. He has an estimated salary of $6 million.
Jemele Hill: $1 million
Best known for her work on ESPN’s “His and Hers” and “Numbers Never Lie,” Jemele Hill spent nearly 12 years with the network as a columnist and TV host. Hill and co-host Michael Smith became an iconic duo for the network, eventually making their way to “SC6,” the 6 p.m. edition of ESPN’s flagship show, “SportsCenter.”
Hill remained in her role with “SportsCenter” for about a year, but after criticism mounted against the outspoken host, she moved to ESPN’s website “The Undefeated.” After only a few months with the site, Hill left ESPN to join The Atlantic in October 2018.
Tony Kornheiser: $6 million
Longtime Washington Post writer Tony Kornheiser is one of the most recognizable faces and one of the most successful people in sports media. In 2001, he began to co-host ESPN’s “Pardon the Interruption” alongside Michael Wilbon. PTI’s success has turned Kornheiser from high-profile journalist to a household name on ESPN.
But Kornheiser is more than PTI; he has also hosted “The Tony Kornheiser Show” on radio and podcast formats for decades. Longtime ESPN exec John Walsh once sang Kornheiser’s praise, calling him “the most multitalented person” in the history of sports media. Kornheiser and Wilbon have helped PTI become an Emmy Award-winning show, and their success has helped Kornheiser become one of the highest-paid talents in sports media.
Charissa Thompson: $1 million
Fox Sports’ Charissa Thompson is one of the top television hosts in sports media. Having spent time with ESPN, Versus, GSN, and the Big Ten Network, Thompson has put together one of the most impressive resumes of anyone in the industry. Best known for her time as the co-host of ESPN’s “SportsNation,” she eventually left for Fox and became one of the highest-paid TV hosts in sports.
After leaving ESPN, Thompson became the host of “Fox Sports Live” on Fox Sports 1, beginning on the day the network made its debut in 2013. She also spent time hosting “Ultimate Beastmaster” and co-hosted the syndicated entertainment news show “Extra.”
Mike Greenberg: $6.5 million
One of ESPN’s highest-paid talents, Mike Greenberg is best known for his time on ESPN Radio’s “Mike & Mike” show alongside co-host Mike Golic. The television anchor and host also hosted the weekday evening “SportsCenter,” usually on Mondays. Greenberg has been with ESPN since 1996, and the network has rewarded him with one of the heftiest salaries of any on-air talent.
Greenberg has also spent time on ESPN’s sister network ABC, hosting “Duel” from 2007-2008 and co-hosting “Battle of the Network Stars” alongside Joe Tessitore. With an estimated salary of $6.5 million per year, Greenberg is easily one of the network’s highest-paid talents.
Lindsay Czarniak: $1.5 million
Like many on this list, Czarniak was a top ESPN talent who left the network for Fox Sports 1. She currently hosts the network’s NASCAR coverage, after spending nearly a decade at ESPN, where she spent some time as an anchor for “SportsCenter.”
Czarniak is one of the most high-profile NASCAR reporters in the industry, having also served as a pit reporter and studio host for TNT’s “NASCAR Sprint Cup Series” coverage. She has also filled in as a host and sports desk reporter for the Olympics, joining NBC Sports’ crew prior to the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, China.
Bob Costas: $7 million
Award-winning sportscaster Bob Costas has been a staple of sports broadcasting for decades, both in the U.S. and around the world. Costas is best known for the decades he spent with NBC Sports from 1980 to 2018, in which he won many Emmys and other awards.
Working for NBC, Costas served as the prime-time host of 11 Olympic Games from 1992-2006. He is currently working for MLB Network, doing play-by-play and hosting an interview show called “Studio 42 with Bob Costas.” Earning an estimated $7 million per year, Costas is one of the highest-paid talents in all of sports broadcasting.
Erin Andrews: $2 million
Sportscaster and TV personality Erin Andrews is one of the most successful women in sports media. She got her start as a freelance reporter and eventually made her way to ESPN in 2004. Andrews covers a variety of sports as a sideline reporter, including baseball, hockey, and basketball, but she may be best known for her NFL coverage.
Andrews currently hosts “Dancing with the Stars” for ABC, and she also serves as the lead sideline reporter for Fox NFL. The star reporter has covered events from the Super Bowl to the World Series. She is estimated to make around $2 million per year.
Tony Romo: $17 million
As hot and cold as Tony Romo was on the field, it may have been hard to believe that he would amount to something even bigger. It was recently reported that CBS was paying him $17 million to stay at the network. Of course, this has everyone thinking, is anyone really worth that much?
Something he’s been bringing to the table as an analyst might be the key ingredient that has the network pining over him. Not only is he a handsome and wholesome former quarterback, but he explains the modern version of the game better than the rest because he’s seen it from the ground level and knows how to communicate that to the fans.
Stephen A. Smith: $10 million
ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith is one of the most widely recognized figures in sports media. He is a commentator on “ESPN First Take,” debating some of the hottest topics in sports on a daily basis. In its peak, “First Take” was one of the most popular sports debate shows on TV, and Smith’s comedic antics had a lot to do with its popularity.
Smith also makes appearances as an NBA analyst on “SportsCenter,” and he serves as an NBA analyst on “NBA Countdown” and NBA broadcasts on ESPN. Smith’s massive success as a personality on TV and radio have made him one of the richest figures in sports media, with an estimated $10 million salary.
Linda Cohn: $3 million
One of ESPN’s longest-tenured anchors, Linda Cohn has been with the network since 1992. She made history in 1987, becoming the first full-time female sports anchor on a national radio network when she was hired by ABC. Cohn has hosted more than 5,000 episodes of “SportsCenter,” setting a record for all anchors. She regularly anchors the show from 1-3 p.m. Eastern Monday through Friday.
In addition to her “SportsCenter” hosting, Cohn also contributes to ESPN’s WNBA and NHL coverage. She signed a new deal in July 2018 and will remain with the company for years to come. Her new salary is estimated to be about $3 million per year.
Jim Rome: $30 million
Longtime sports talk show host Jim Rome is one of the most successful people in sports media. For several years, Rome hosted a television show “Jim Rome Is Burning,” formerly known as “Rome Is Burning.” The show aired on ESPN in the U.S. and TSN2 in Canada until 2011, when Rome left ESPN to join the CBS Network.
At CBS, Rome hosts his own show, in addition to an interview-format show on Showtime. His current show, “The Jim Rome Show,” is one of the most listened to talk radio shows in the U.S. Rome is estimated to earn a hefty $30 million per year.
Suzy Kolber: $3 million
ESPN’s Suzy Kolber is one of the network’s most recognizable figures, having graced the network’s TV broadcasts for decades. Kolber was one of the original anchors of ESPN2 when it launched in 1992. After three years with ESPN, Kolber left the network for Fox Sports, where she worked for three years before returning to ESPN.
In 2006, Kolber became the first female broadcaster to receive the Maxwell Club Sports Broadcaster of the Year Award. The longtime sideline reporter spent five years on “Sunday Night Football” and one year on “Monday Night Football.” The broadcaster is estimated to make roughly $3 million per year.
Ahmad Rashad: unknown
Former Pro Bowl wide receiver and College Football Hall of Fame inductee Ahmad Rashad is one of the highest-paid former athletes in sports media. Rashad began his post-NFL career by covering the NFL, NBA, and MLB as a studio anchor and game reporter for NBC and ABC. He also hosted “NBA Inside Stuff” for 16 seasons.
A longtime friend of Michael Jordan, Rashad used to interview the NBA legend frequently during his time with NBC. Rashad became a panelist on the Golf Channel’s “Morning Drive” for a brief sting in 2013, but he left after less than a year. Rashad’s annual salary is unknown, but he’s estimated to be one of the highest-paid broadcasters in sports media.
Andrea Kremer: $4 million
Emmy-winning sports journalist Andrea Kremer is one of the most accomplished women in sports media. She has made sports history on several occasions, most recently teaming with Hannah Storm on “Thursday Night Football” to become the first all-women booth to call any major men’s team sport. Kremer has covered championship matches in virtually every sport, including more than 25 Super Bowls.
In 2018, the Pro Football Hall of Fame honored Kremer with the Peter Rozelle Radio-Television Award, which is a prestigious honor. The talented broadcaster is estimated to make $4 million per year, making her one of the highest-paid female broadcasters in sports media.
Tracy McGrady: unknown
Hall of Fame NBA player Tracy McGrady was wildly successful in the NBA, but he has already made nearly as big of a mark in sports media. After retiring from the NBA, McGrady joined ESPN to work as a basketball analyst. He makes regular appearances on “The Jump” alongside host Rachel Nichols, and he even occasionally contributes analysis to “SportsCenter.”
McGrady joined “NBA Countdown’s” Wednesday edition ahead of the 2016-17 NBA season, providing pregame analysis alongside host Michelle Beadle and analysts Jalen Rose and Chauncey Billups. The former NBA star’s salary isn’t publicly available, but some believe he could be one of the highest-paid talents in the industry.
Samantha Ponder: $4.9 million
Former sideline reporter and current sportscaster Samantha Ponder is one of ESPN’s most recognizable faces and one of the highest-paid women in sports media. Ponder replaced Erin Andrews on “College GameDay” Saturdays, and she also served as the sideline reporter for ESPN’s “Thursday Night College Football” from 2012-2014. Andrews also appeared on ESPN’s Texas-oriented Longhorn Network.
Ponder is the current host of ESPN’s “Sunday NFL Countdown.” She previously served as a reporter and host for ESPN college football and did some sideline reporting for basketball as well. Her important role at ESPN and experience have contributed to an estimated $4.9 million salary.
Kevin Garnett: unknown
A 15-time NBA All-Star, Kevin Garnett is a shoo-in Hall of Fame selection when he becomes eligible in 2021. But the legendary basketball player’s career didn’t quite end when he retired. In fact, “KG” has quickly budded into a sports media superstar. In 2016, Garnett joined the “Inside the NBA” crew on TNT. The following month, he began to host his own segment, called “Area 21.”
Garnett’s “Area 21” has exploded in popularity, thanks to the former hooper’s unfiltered and unapologetic approach to sports talk. Though his salary information isn’t publicly available, Garnett is estimated to be one of the highest-paid sports media talents in the industry.
Michelle Beadle: $5 million
ESPN’s Michelle Beadle is the highest-paid woman in sports media. Prior to joining ESPN in 2009, Beadle hosted various shows on different networks, including College Sports Television and the YES Network. Beadle had her first big break in hosting “SportsNation” on ESPN2. Later, she went on to host “Get Up!” alongside Jalen Rose and Mike Greenberg.
Beadle has also veered out of sports talk shows, anchoring NBC Sports Network’s coverage of the 2012 London Olympics. Today, Beadle serves as a sports reporter and host on ESPN. Beadle is one of the network’s biggest talents, and she’s certainly paid like one. She’s estimated to earn approximately $5 million in salary.
“Inside the NBA” crew: unknown
With a cast (pictured from left to right) of Shaquille O’Neal, Ernie Johnson, Kenny Smith, and Charles Barkley, “Inside the NBA” is one of the best sports talk shows on television. With Johnson as host and the three former NBA players as analysts, the show has won nine Emmy Awards. It also became the third sports show in history to be inducted into the Broadcasting Hall of Fame.
In addition to the show’s nine Emmys, Johnson and Barkley have won three Emmys of their own. Though it’s unknown exactly how much the “Inside the NBA” crew earn in salary, it’s fair to assume the four are some of the highest-paid talents — if not already the biggest earners — in the industry.
NEXT: The Staggering Net Worth of the World’s Richest Poker Players
Vanessa Rousso $4 Million
With a hat full of sponsors, how could Vanessa Rousso not be loaded? A child prodigy, Rousso has been playing poker since she was five, but unlike many of her contemporaries, Rousso finished college, and in record time. Rousso graduated from Duke University in just two and a half years.
From there, she went to the University of Miami School of Law where she paused her education to pursue her poker career; she did return to finish her degree in 2018 and graduated magna cum laude. Aside from poker, Rousso has appeared in a Sports Illustrated Swimsuit edition and is consistently ranked as one of the sexiest players in poker. To date, Rousso hasn’t won any WSOP bracelets.
Liv Boeree $4 Million
A native of England, Live Boeree is one of the brightest players in poker. Prior to poker, Boeree graduated from college with a degree in astrophysics. A heavy believer in stats, probability, and data, Boeree got her start in poker on a reality television show where she was coached by some of the world’s best players like Phil Hellmuth and Annie Duke.
From there, her unique skillset helped her career take off to new heights. Boeree has one WSOP bracelet and is one of the top female poker stars of all time. Outside of poker, Boeree has given TED Talks on probability, appeared on numerous television shows in England, and has published a number of articles for major publications such as Vox.com.
Jason Mercier $9 Million
Five-time World Series of Poker bracelet winner Jason Mercier may just be the best poker player on planet earth today. In 2009, Bluff Magazine named Mercier the Player of the Year, and in 2016, Mercier received the prestigious honor of being named World Series of Poker Player of the Year. Mercier grew up in Hollywood, Florida, a fitting name for a man destined for the casinos.
In high school, Mercier was a four-year letterman in basketball, baseball, and soccer. As a senior, he was a 1st-team All-Broward County basketball player and attended Florida Atlantic University (for just one year). Today, Mercier is a father, husband, and one of the world’s top players.
Sam Trickett $9.4 Million
Englishman Sam Trickett has yet to capture one of poker’s greatest prizes, a Wolrd Series of Poker bracelet. Despite being bracelet-less, Trickett has done amazingly well at poker since getting into the game back in 2005. The reason Trickett got involved? An unfortunate injury ended his soccer career. Trading the green grass of the soccer pitch for the green felt of the poker tables, Trickett has been one of England’s most successful players.
In 2011, Trickett won the European Poker Player of the Year and was also named Britain’s Best Cash Player. One of the secrets to Trickett’s success? Eating healthy. Trickett is a firm believer that healthier food is easier for your body to digest, thus freeing up much-needed brainpower to focus on poker.
Tom Dwan $10 Million
The pride of Edison, New Jersey, Tom Dwan has invented quite the career for himself at the tables. Dwan finished high school and matriculated to Boston University. But like many others on this list, getting a fancy piece of paper wasn’t worth it and Dwan dropped out to get the other kind of paper, cold, hard cash.
Dwan is a proud owner of zero bracelets, but don’t let that minor detail fool you. Dwan is one of the game’s rising young stars and has already made a small fortune in just a few years of playing competitively. To date, Dwan has earned $10 Million, and look for him in the coming years to win his first WSOP bracelet.
Doug Polk $10 Million
Doug Polk, as he states on his website, has always been a free thinker. Involved in strategy game since his childhood, it’s really no surprise that the game of poker stole Polk’s heart. Polk, prior to cards, was passionate about chess and video games, but neither of those industries can make you millions.
After high school, Polk went to college before dropping out to make poker a full-time career. Since that audacious move, Polk has won three WSOP bracelets, beat a robot in a highly-publicized match of Texas Hold ’em, and has been one of the most consistent earners in the world.
Gus Hansen $10.5 Million
Professional gambler Gus Hansen is no stranger to taking big losses. He also not a stranger when it comes to winning big. A native of Denmark, Hansen has one WSOP bracelet and has gained a certain level of fame for his betting antics and willing to gamble on just about anything. Hansen got his big poker break while he was a transfer student at UC Santa Cruz. Since then, Hansen has been known to blow millions of dollars in high-stakes games, both online and in person.
In 2004, People Magazine named Hansen one of the sexiest men on earth in 2004. Hansen also entered a celebrity boxing match against Theo Jorgensen, and yes, that fight between two people who make a living sitting down fiddling chips went just about as well as you’d expect it to go.
Scotty Nguyen $12 Million
Poker is full of exotic and eccentric personalities, but few can top the wild ways of Scotty Nguyen. Nguyen, born in Vietnam, moved to the U.S. at 14. From the outset, Scotty was trouble, and a nasty poker habit of playing underground poker led to Scotty’s expulsion from school. Well, that was a blessing in disguise, and as one door closes, another opens.
Scotty got involved with small casino games before elevating his status to bigger tournaments in California and Las Vegas. Despite blowing tons of money and battling a drug habit, Nguyen has been wildly successful, winning five WSOP bracelets and one Main Event.
Scott Seiver $15 Million
The pride of Long Island, Scott Seiver wasn’t always a poker star. After high school, Seiver attended the prestigious Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island. It was there while Seiver majored in Computer Science that he got his start with poker.
Infatuated with the game, Seiver, a frat boy with an uncanny resemblance to Jonah Hill, began to get more involved with chips and less involved with the video games that occupied hours of his day. Today, Seiver has two WSOP bracelets and has been ranked as the No.1 poker player in the world. When he’s not at the tables, you can find him playing “Magic: The Gathering.”
Phil Laak $18 Million
Born in Dublin but raised in America, Phil Laak initially set out to become an engineer after graduating from the University of Massachusetts. However, Laak soon realized that he didn’t want to work in an office crunching numbers for the rest of his life, so he swapped his work briefcase for a poker briefcase full of chips and departed to California where he began playing the game full time.
To date, Laak has won one WSOP bracelet and is known on the tour as the “Unabomber” thanks to his resemblance (hooded sweatshirt and shades) to the original Unabomber Theodore Kaczynski. Laak is dating actress and poker player Jennifer Tilly.
Antonio Esfandiari $20 Million
Antonio Esfandiari probably has you all fooled. That’s because he’s a magician, and his name wasn’t always Antonio Esfandiari. Born Amir Esfandiary in Tehran, Iran, Amir and his family moved to San Jose, California, at the age of nine. Shortly after graduating from Del Mar High School in 1997, Amir, who was an aspiring magician, changed his name to the now-recognized Antonio Esfandiari.
But like most magicians, Esfandiari knew how to pull a good disappearing act and dropped magic for poker, a move that has dazzled his fans. Esfandiari has three WSOP bracelets, won the largest single payout in torment history when he took home $18.4 million at the 2012 Big One for One Drop, and is one of the best players in poker history.
Phil Hellmuth $20 Million
There isn’t a bigger diva in poker history than Phil Hellmuth. Phil’s record and skill set are second to none. With a record 15 WSOP bracelets and two Main Event victories, Hellmuth is in a league of his own. The problem is the 2007 Poker Hall of Fame inductee has the temperament of a child and is almost as well known for his tantrums and blow-ups than his gambling abilities.
Hellmuth dropped out of college to pursue a full-time poker career and has amassed an impressive $20 million. That being said, he is one of the most unlikable personalities in the poker circuit and can be unbearable to watch at times.
Brian Rast $22 Million
Stanford graduate. High school valedictorian. Brian Rast is one smart dude, and the smartest decision he ever made was to make poker a career. Before Rast ever made it to graduation, he dropped out of college and made the casino his second home.
Since doing so, Rast has won four World Series of Poker bracelets and has been one of the more consistent players on the poker tour. Rast has made 10 final tables and has 33 money finishes. In 2011, Rast married his wife Juliana, a Brazilian national. Rast, whose bank account is padded beyond belief, lives in Las Vegas.
Jake Schindler $23.8 Million
The all-time money leader from Pennsylvania is Jake Schindler. Schindler, a 26-year-old, looks like he is pushing 19. So the real question isn’t where he learned his skills or how he got involved in the game; it’s if he still gets carded when entering the casinos. And we are going to go out on a limb here and say yes.
Aside from the youthful face, Schindler’s skill set is that of a seasoned vet. Schindler has yet to win a bracelet, but he has appeared at three final tables and has 30 money finishes. In 2018, Schindler was named Card Player’s Player of the Year. With $23.8 million in career earnings, it’s no surprise Schindler made this list.
John Juanda $24.6 Million
John Juanda is a poker legend with five WSOP bracelets who found the game in the most unlikely of ways. Born in Indonesia to a father with a gambling addiction, Juanda was warned by family and friends to avoid the game, but he couldn’t help himself. As a child, Juanda started betting on trivial games such as marbles, and marbles slowly evolved into card games.
In 1990, Juanda left Indonesia to enroll at Oklahoma State University, and it was on that transcontinental flight where he learned the game of poker. In college, Juanda would play for hours per day, and that habit only increased as Juanda earned his M.B.A. from the University of Seattle. Following school, Juanda committed to playing poker full time and hasn’t looked back.
Isaac Haxton $24.7 Million
Mr. Isaac Haxton grew up in Westchester, a suburb of New York City. Like seemingly everyone else on this list, Haxton grew up playing strategy games and excelled at both chess and “Magic: The Gathering.” Following high school, Haxton attended Brown University where he was friends with other future poker stars mentioned on this list.
At Brown University, Haxton majored in computer science. While doing so, he began to transition from coding into competitive poker and has slowly amassed a fortune. Although he has no bracelets, Haxton has thoroughly dominated the online scene. He is happily married to his wife Zoe.
Daniel Colman $25 Million
Born in the small town of Holden, Massachusetts, Daniel Colman has come a long way from the suburbs. Colman, and no we are not forgetting the “e,” has won one World Series of Poker bracelet but has raked in millions of dollars through years of fervently playing online poker. In 2013, Colman managed to win $1,000,000 in hyper-turbo online tournaments in just nine months.
In 2014, Colman had a career year and won $15.4 million for taking first place at the Big One for One Drop tournament. For his 2014 efforts, Colman was named the Poker Player of the Year by numerous publications including Bluff Magazine and Card Player Magazine.
Jennifer Tilly $25 Million
Academy Award-winning actress Jennifer Tilly is a star on the silver screen and a phenom at the poker tables. Tilly rose to fame for her role in Woody Allen’s 1994 film “Bullets over Broadway.” After that breakout performance, Tilly starred in plenty of big hits and even more B movies.
But her heart was with the betting chips, not making clips, and Tilly changed careers to become a professional poker player. In 2005, Tilly won her first and only WSOP bracelet in the Ladies’ No-Limit Texas hold ’em event where she decimated 600 other competitors. Tilly has been dating fellow poker star Phil Laak since 2004.
Steve O’Dwyer $26 Million
Steve O’Dwyer didn’t get into poker because he got bored of “Magic” or realized he couldn’t get girls by playing that game. Nor did he get into poker because college just wasn’t cutting it. In fact, O’Dwyer, who was born in Colorado Springs, Colorado, finished school with a degree in broadcasting from East Carolina University, located in Greenville, North Carolina.
While in college, O’Dwyer stumbled upon a game of poker amongst friends, and the rest is history. To date, O’Dwyer hasn’t won any bracelets but he has been at one final table and has 15 money finishes. In 2011, O’Dwyer was hit by the Black Friday poker scandal and was forced to sleep on floors and borrow money.
Jason Koon $26 Million
Jason Koon hails from Weston, West Virginia, a small town most of you have probably never heard of. A star athlete growing up, Koon enrolled at West Virginia Wesleyan College where he hoped to run professionally. Well, an injury cut his running career short but opened up a new career with Koon running the tables at high stakes games around the globe.
Following graduation, Koon took a job working at an insurance company. Pedaling insurance isn’t really living the dream, and Koon quit to play poker, a game he learned while in college. Today, Koon lives in Canada and has yet to win a World Series of Poker bracelet.
Dan Smith $27 Million
Dan Smith grew up in New Jersey. Naturally, he wanted to get out of what most American’s refer to as the “armpit of America.” Initially, Dan tried to escape Jersey by enrolling in college, but that too wasn’t stimulating enough for him. Smith was dreaming of posing with fat stacks of Benjamins, not posing with his parents after graduation.
Since taking on poker full-time, Smith has had 23 money finishes but has failed to win a World Series of Poker bracelet. As of 2018, Smith has earned a whopping $29 million. Clearly, he made the prudent decision to go all in.
Bryn Kenney $30 Million
A Long Beach, New York, native, Bryn Kenney was originally a “Magic: The Gathering” player like Scott Seiver. Apparently, there’s something about being good at that fantasy game that translates well for poker. Maybe it’s the ability to stay composed while fending off your opponent’s endless onslaught of dragon attacks? After Kenney slew enough dragons, he swapped his “Magic” deck for a card deck and began playing poker.
The real reason he left “Magic” was there “wasn’t much money to be made with “Magic.” I was also ready to start chasing girls and I definitely couldn’t do that by playing cards with a bunch of nerds like myself every weekend.” At least he’s honest. Today, Kenney has one WSOP bracelet and has racked up over $30 million in winnings.
Patrik Antonius $32 Million
From posing to poker. A jack of all trades, Finish heartthrob Patrik Antonius has yet to win a WSOP bracelet, but that doesn’t mean he hasn’t earned a hefty chunk of change playing poker, both online and in person. Antonius, like others here, got his breakthrough online.
Veiled by a bunch of eclectic usernames, Antonius was one of the highest-grossing players online, and in 2009 he won the biggest pot in online poker history, cashing in a cool $1.3 million. When he’s not at the tables, Antonius can be found playing tennis, his first passion. Prior to poker, Antonius modeled.
Fedor Holz $33 Million
When Mr. Fedor Holz gets seated at the poker table, the blitzkrieg begins. The young German prodigy has a pension for winning and winning big, regardless of the competition or stage. Holz got is start as an anonymous player dominating the online poker scene. However, in poker, the real money is made in person at high-stake tournaments broadcasted for the world to see.
Seeing an opportunity to earn more money, Holz distanced himself from the online world and went to the tables. At just 25 years old, Holz already has one bracelet and is one of the highest-earning players on the tour. When Holz isn’t playing poker, he enjoys traveling the world and mentoring young, up-and-coming poker players.
Justin Bonomo $40 Million
Like many others, Justin Bonomo got his start in poker after ditching the card game that so many others poker players jettisoned too, “Magic: The Gathering.” After ditching “Magic,” Bonomo went to Vegas to try his hand in poker, and the move was a royal flush. Bonomo is a three-time World Series of Poker bracelet winner and has made 16 final tables.
Outside of poker, Bonomo is known for being polyamorous and a big fan of the Burning Man festival held annually in Nevada. In 2018, Bonomo passed Daniel Negreanu for most all-time live earnings with a gargantuan $43 million. Safe to say he’ll be able to fund his passion for Burning Man for years to come.
Daniel Negreanu $50 Million
Hailing from the great, maple-syrup-producing state of Canada, Daniel Negreanu knew from the start that he’d be a poker player. School wasn’t for Negreanu, and the Toronto native decided to drop out of high school before graduation. He was pushing his luck, but the move panned out in spades.
Negreanu got heavily involved with the local poker scene and saved up enough money to move to the gambling capital of North America, Las Vegas. Often seen sporting his Toronto Maple Leafs jersey, Negreanu has won six WSOP bracelets, is a vegan, and has appeared in numerous television shows and movies. Talk about a full house.
Doyle Brunson $75 Million
Doyle Brunson is about as esteemed and celebrated as anyone in poker. A Texas native, Brunson got his start playing poker in college, but to him, the game was just that, a game. That is until Brunson made more than a month’s salary playing in a poker game with his coworkers. Shortly after, Brunson quit his job to play poker full time.
Ten WSOP bracelets and decades later, Brunson has cemented his legacy as one of the greatest players ever. His book, “Poker Systems,” is a best-seller and bible for pokers enthusiasts worldwide looking to learn the game from one of the greats. Brunson, a Poker Hall of Fame inductee, has also won two Main Events at the WSOP.
Chris Ferguson $80 Million
He can cut fruit and vegetables with cards, has a Ph.D. in computer science, and has six World Series of Poker bracelets to his name. Simply put, Chris Ferguson is the most interesting man in poker. Nicknamed Jesus, Chris Ferguson earned his Ph.D. from UCLA, however, after nearly a decade of working to get that degree, Ferguson did a total 180 and followed his heart…to the poker table.
Known for his signature long hair, cowboy hat, and unmistakenly calm demeanor, Ferguson has raked in $80 million over the course of his career. One major blemish on Ferguson’s otherwise pristine resume was the Full Tilt Poker scandal that embroiled numerous poker stars including Ferguson.
Phil Ivey $100 Million
A phenom from a young age, Phil Ivey got the nickname “No Home Jerome” after the plethora of fake IDs he used to get into the casinos as a teenager. Unlike most teenage passions, which are fleeting, Ivey’s love of poker was real and deep.
He was all in on the game and made his hobby a career. Considered one of the greatest poker players of all time, Ivey has won 10 World Series of Poker bracelets and was elected into the Poker Hall of Fame in 2017. After a lifetime of poker, Ivey’s net worth is a staggering $100 million.
Dan Bilzerian $150 Million
Where the truths stop and the lies begin remains unknown with the king of Instagram. Dan Bilzerian’s life remains a mystery, and the only details us plebeians can piece together come from his outlandish Instagram account and the questionable snippets we get from his interviews. Seriously, there are no real concrete facts surrounding this ubiquitous mystery. How long was he in the Navy for, did his money come from poker or his pops, and how much is he really worth?
The answers to these questions remain shrouded by disparate details, foggy accounts, and questionable stories. But one thing we are nearly certain of is Bilzerian has a lot of money and isn’t afraid to flaunt it. According to celebritynetworth.com, the site where we will be getting our financial figures from, Bilzerian has a net worth of $150 million, of which no one is exactly sure how much came from poker.