World Series of Poker Champ Wins $10 Million – Here’s His Crazy Tax Bill

Journalist:
July 17, 2019

Hossein Ensan survived a field of 8,569 expert gamblers to sweep poker’s most prestigious event, the World Series of Poker. The Iranian-born German earned the highly-coveted WSOP bracelet and a cool $10 million.

But don’t for a second think he’ll be keeping all of it. Uncle Sam will want his share. Or is that Uncle Heinz?

Ensan is the oldest player to have won the main event in some 20 years. Now approaching his 56th year, the professional poker player is expected to hand over 42% of his winnings – $4.2 million – to the German government.

$5.8 million is still a delicious sum to retire on, but Ensan may want to consider relocating if he intends to keep on playing.

You Can’t Bluff the Government

This year’s tournament brought in the second-highest prize pool in history topping out at $80,548,600. The government will undoubtedly be licking its chops at the thought, though, as mentioned previously, taxation largely depends on where the winners reside.

In the US the general rule of thumb is a 25% tax for both recreational and professional players. Naturally, it helps if you live in Nevada or Florida where state taxes don’t apply. Germany, on the other hand, does not take kindly to professional gamblers:

Sample tax rates for professional and recreational poker players. | Source: Rakeback.

Brits are the biggest winners in the poker tax-book with an effective rate of zero on all winnings. That’s because the UK currently makes all gambling scores exempt from taxation. Indeed, many European pros are making the move to London precisely to keep grubby government hands off of their hard-won pots.

University dropout Nick Marchington finished seventh at this year’s event, and he’ll be laughing all the way back to his UK bank after pocketing a nifty $1.53 million payout.

Look Out World Series of Poker – The Tax Man Cometh

World Series of Poker champ Hossein Ensan is becoming a pro at dealing with the taxman. | Source: AP Photo / John Locher (i), Shutterstock (ii). Image Edited by CCN.

This isn’t the first time Ensan has had to deal with the taxman. Last year Spanish authorities squabbled with the German over taxes related to €652,667 (~$733,000) he’d won at a tournament in Barcelona during the 2014 season.

Even though he’d already settled up with the German revenue service, Spanish officials sent him a letter demanding €235,000 (~$264,000) in back-taxes, not including interest and legal fees. Nevermind the high rate, the German tax system or Steuer is also notorious for its red tape.

But as Ensan celebrated his 2019 World Series of Poker victory, taxes appeared to be the last thing on his mind.

“This is the best feeling in my life. Unbelievable! I am so happy I’m here with the bracelet in hand. What can I say?”

That and an after-tax windfall of $5.8 million should be enough motivation for any serious high-stakes player. And don’t forget about his bracelet. This specially-designed version commemorating the 50th anniversary of the WSOP features 18 carat-gold and a number of diamonds to boot.

Worst comes to worst, he could always pawn it on eBay like 2010 winner Peter Eastgate who received $147,500 from the winning bid.

Last modified (UTC): July 19, 2019 18:59

Ryan Smith @trendz

Ryan is a web designer, writer, and trader who hails from sunny South Africa. He eats, breathes and lives crypto. With experience following the FX market and a keen interest in the history and evolution of money, Ryan is always trying to understand the bigger economic picture. When not meticulously looking over the charts, he can be found planning his next road trip or running around a 5-a-side soccer field.