Josh Brikis, who stopped running his pizza shop to play professional poker in 2008, has earned as much as $1.8 million playing Texas Hold’em, a game that is getting more popular than ever. The first game he played was a home poker game.

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Poker is more than just a game for Brikis, who resides in Murrysville. The 33-year-old calls himself a professional poker player, and ever since he started playing the game professionally, he has been winning big money playing online and live poker tournaments and cash poker games.

His most lucrative year was 2009, when he won as much as $750k, $619,000 of which was won in one poker tournament, the Card Player Player of the Year Roundup, in which he had finished in the 25th place. Brikis has also appeared on national television shows and poker magazines and has written a blog for Card Player. Today, he is a sponsored player at Ivey Poker, a poker education site established by Phil Ivey, one of the top poker pros in the world. He has also partnered with DraftKings, a fantasy sports site. Those interested can learn more about Brikis by visiting, his official website, or following him on Twitter @jbrikis. He has over 3000 followers on Twitter.

Brikis, however, doesn’t always win at poker. His career has its ups and downs too. For instance, 2011 was his worst year as he lost $100k, but he is luckier in 2013.

Besides playing poker, Brikis works as a salesman for the Murrysville-based Rivertowne Brewing and is associated with 9 fantasy football leagues. He also makes instructional videos on the game of poker and is currently exploring the concept of teaching poker to those who attend corporate parties.

Although he is involved in many non-poker things, he plans to continue playing poker throughout his life. He said: “A poker player is not on a schedule, other than tournaments, which we can be late for anyway. Other than that, we’re free people. We’re spoiled by poker because of the money we make from it.” He further says, “I’ve gotten so much from poker. We’re able to party, go to nice dinners, concerts. I’ve been to the Bahamas, Vegas, every Penguins playoff game. I’ve sat right behind the Los Angeles Lakers bench. I’ve gone on the spur of the moment from a tournament (in Atlantic City” to a Jay-Z and Eminem concert in New York in a limo.”

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