First off winning money at poker is easy, winning big at poker is a bit more tricky (otherwise they’d be no normal jobs out there). Most professional poker players spend their first few years turning over low profits and working most days, but if they’re any good (and if they’re not they wont last) they’ll find themselves at the top table in a tournament and sooner or later they’ll hit a decent win and scoop a decent wodge of cash. For instance the 2005 Party Poker Millions has a $250,000 pot for a $640 buy-in. And a quarter mill is a decent day’s pay in anyone’s book, and you’d think that you’d be well within your rights to spend-spend-spend, buying drinks for strangers throwing some money at friends or family, tipping high and generally sharing the joy. But that same $250,000 would translate (after tax etc.) to a monthly take home wage packet of $8,000, and if you were taking home eight grand you’d be less likely to act like a high roller down the local seven-eleven. Granted the $250,000 is on top of whatever else you ma win in a year, but starting out it’s unusual to have any days where you win more than $10 grand, not to mention any losses.
Most pros (and every amateur) will tell you that once you’ve won big then you need to double down and start hitting bigger and bigger tables when you have a windfall win like that. Naturally when you’re on a streak you have to respect the streak and ride that tiger to see how much more they could make.
But at the risk of sounding like everyone’s mother, let’s be careful out there. If you’re the sort of player who tosses his poker winnings away you should take a look at the Big Book of Poker Paupers, which lists all the big money winners who died penniless. They same way that chips are just a tool, money is something that can be used to work for you (away from the table).
It’s your money and your life but you could do a lot worse than read a few books on investing, seek out some sound financial advice (as you should with any windfall) and put your money into something sensible like stocks or mutual funds, and obviously property (we all need a bolt hole). These are investments you don’t have to watch all the time (if you invest in another tournament, you’d have to work on turning a profit). If you invest wisely (and with a long term payoff) you and leave the money be and stay focused on poker, because as a single swallow does not a summer make, after your first big win, you’re still learning.