A few articles have been written on select tournament poker pros who, behind the scenes are nothing more than habitual deadbeats scamming the starstruck out of loaning them buy-ins and ultimately living on the borrow. While I don't know the "elite" poker players personally, I can speak on the lifestyle of a professional poker player as a low stakes NL Hold 'em specialist. Playing cards to pay rent and eat is not as glamorous or as profitable as it appears on television.
During the World Series of Poker telecasts you will often hear Norman Chad profile poker players who dropped out of college to pursue poker full time. Let's not forget the countless stories of poker players who used to be grocery store baggers and stockers that are now professional poker players who are beating countless "fish" out of money. I can tell you from experience –me included– that poker players tend to embellish the amount of money they're making as they grind it out at the poker tables.
While I certainly make more money at a poker table than I would working a 9 to 5 for 40 hours a week at an hourly rate of $15 per hour; poker comes with many valleys, peaks and plateaus. Some weeks you're winning an average of $600 per day playing 1/2 NL and some weeks you're hemorrhaging your bankroll because river rats are hitting their 2 outer bingo cards on you nonstop it seems. In most cases, poker players will brag about the insane amount of money that they won during their winning streaks, but they'll almost never tell you about their losing streaks since you are an outsider and are embarrassed to talk about their negative bankroll swings..
A career in poker is all about grinding out success for the long term and part of playing long term is being able to withstand those bad beats (hands that you lose when you start out as a favorite) and I'm telling you from personal experience that they're very tough to endure. Norman Chad will never tell you about the long days spent at the poker tables chasing an insatiable desire for money –either making money or trying to win back the money that you've been losing for the past 3 days. He won't tell you that most days you're going to be at the casino from 5pm until 5am trying to maintain your bankroll. This is tough to do 6 days out the week, and let's not mention the bankroll killers such as tournaments, side bets, and in most gamblers' cases women. It is no wonder that most talented players do not survive one year as a professional poker player.