How Much Can Snooker Players Earn? Top 100 Ranked in ££

Updated: 16862 Snooker

How Much Can Snooker Players Earn? Top 100 Ranked in ££

Xinhua / Alamy Stock Photo

Dan Tracey Data Scientist and Football Editor

Writer, analyst, podcaster, Spurs fan. Three out of four is not bad. If there is a data angle, I will find it.

The colourful world of snooker is another string to Barry Hearn’s bow and although the peak of its popularity was back in the 1980s as the likes of Steve Davis and Dennis Taylor were scooping up World Championships, it is failed to hit the same heights since.

Admittedly the sporting world is far different than what it was 40 years prior, and at the same time, so is the UK’s media landscape. Football was certainly not loved by the BBC or ITV back then and with three or maybe four channels to show any sport, snooker won the race for eyeballs.

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However, by the time the beautiful game can back in from the cold and SKY pumped millions of pounds into the Premier League, events on the green baize had started to wane by the time Big Break had potted the black for the final time.

With that said, snooker still has an ardent fanbase and is far from being considered as a niche event. Especially when you look at the crowds that flock to the World Championships each year – even if that does include the odd pesky protester.

It may have an ardent fanbase that cheers on Ronnie O’Sullivan and Judd Trump but is the sport financially viable for these two and many others who look to be the kings of snooker on an annual basis?

Judd Trump can make a tidy living out of snooker, far above average UK salaries

Of course, it is not just the World Championships that is snooker’s sole event, there are plenty of tour events that take place across the season and with it being a tour that is much more global than regional, there are considerable travel expenses to also deal with.

Which begs the question: is a career as a snooker player viable? Obviously, for the likes of O’Sullivan and Trump, it certainly is. Simply put, failure to make the sport viable for them would not see them have played for so long.

But like in many other cases when it comes to sport and finance, you have to scratch beneath the surface to understand whether player earnings are in rather rude health or actually approaching life support instead.

Before we dig deep into what a player can make on an annual basis, we will take a quick snapshot of the highest all-time earners:

Rank Player Total Earnings £
1 Ronnie O'Sullivan 14,097,534
2 John Higgins 9,821,369
3 Stephen Hendry 8,804,081
4 Mark Selby 7,867,579
5 Mark Williams 7,693,654
6 Judd Trump 7,552,954
7 Neil Robertson 6,633,095
8 Steve Davis 5,623,536
9 Shaun Murphy 5,544,912
10 Mark Allen 4,959,190
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This has certainly been a fruitful career path for Ronnie O’Sullivan. At the time of writing, the seven-time World Champion has made more than £14m in career earnings and with this, he is the only player to make more than £10m in their lifetime.

snooker earnings lifetime infographic

Not even fellow seven-time World Champion Stephen Hendry saw earnings as plentiful. By comparison, the Scottish star has only earned £8.8m for his efforts and he also has to make do with sitting third, as John Higgins has pipped him to second with earnings of £9.8m.

John Higgins currently sits in second place in the all-time snooker earners

Even if we go down to 10th place in the list, Mark Allen has certainly done well for himself. £4.9m has been earned thanks to the wonderful world of snooker and who can ignore Steve Davis’ earnings of £5.6m.

Then again, we must consider that all-time earnings are not going to give us an overall snapshot when it comes to viability on an annual basis. The 10 names above are part of snooker royalty, if they are kings or at least the princes, then who are the paupers by comparison.

If we now take a look at the earnings from the 2023/24 season as a whole (the last completed snooker season at the time of writing), we can begin to get a better idea of what the competitors are earning:

Rank Player 2023/2024 £
1 Ronnie O'Sullivan 1,016,300
2 Judd Trump 911,000
3 Mark Allen 654,500
4 Kyren Wilson 646,950
5 Mark Williams 438,500
6 Ali Carter 425,000
7 Zhang Anda 414,000
8 Mark Selby 401,100
9 Ding Junhui 388,500
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snooker earnings 2023-2024 season infographic

Unsurprisingly, it is Ronnie O'Sullivan who tops the table after having won £1,016,300 worth of prize money across the 2023/24 season. While Judd Trump is not all that far behind after earning £911,000 during the same period.

Mark Allen can also sit back and count his riches after picking up £654,500 in third. While the top five is rounded out by newly crowned World Champion Kyren Wilson in fourth and Mark Williams in fifth who earned £646,950 and £438,500 respectively.

In terms of Wilson, his recent World Championship win would have made a huge difference. Without that cash boost of £500,000, he would have done well to even break the top 20 for 2023/24.

Even if we look at the 10th entry on the 2023/24 earnings list, John Higgins’ £368,600 is not a figure that the man in the street would be turning his nose at. However, the lower down the list, the less tempting a career snooker may be.

If we take the latest published figures that say the UK’s average salary for a full-time worker is £33,000, we now have a standard benchmark to work with and perhaps more importantly, we know where the cut-off point for viability is.

Rank Player 2022/2023 £
41 Jordan Brown 84,000
42 Wu Yize 82,250
43 Robbie Williams 78,500
44 Jackson Page 76,000
45 Jamie Jones 72,250
46 Sam Craigie 68,900
47 He Guoqiang 68,250
48 Thepchaiya Un-Nooh 67,500
49 Daniel Wells 65,250
50 Xu Si 60,500
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If we go further down the list, we can see that a top 50 player from last season, would have enough in earnings on the snooker table to beat the UK’s average full-time salary. If you make this bracket, things may be stressful, but you can still call this a viable career.

But what if we were to move down another 25 places and beyond?

Rank Player 2022/2023 £
75 Louis Heathcote 34,000
76 Tian Pengfei 34,000
77 Lukas Kleckers 33,000
78 Long Zehuang 31,500
79 David Grace 31,250
80 James Cahill 31,250
81 Jenson Kendrick 31,250
82 Ian Burns 31,000
83 Oliver Brown 29,500
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This means that every player who took the table and finished 78th or lower in the rankings list for 2023/24, they would have earned less than the UK average wage. In addition to this, the duo of Louis Heathcote and Tian Pengfel would also just squeeze above the line, while Lukas Kleckers would find himself only just breaking even.

To provide further context, the two joint 99th highest earners only picked up £17,250 for his troubles.

Jimmy White has already earned just under £5m in total and finds himself just outsdie the top 10 overall. Therefore, any additional revenue picked up in these past few years, will be seen as an added bonus, for the man he shares 99th with, the situation is not as comfortable. 

Sean O'Sullivan has this accolade and may also be wondering whether such a pursuit of sporting glory is going to be worth it in the long-term. Because the figures quoted are just earnings, this does not consider travel expenses or any other costs.

In 2021 Robbie Williams earned just over the average UK salary ion the table, a little less than his pop star name-sake. Benutzer:Bill da Flute, CC BY-SA 3.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

Of course, expenses can be offset by sponsorship deals and if you are a top 10, 20, or even 30 player, then the benefits will outweigh any unforeseen expenditure along the way. At the same time, the lower down the totem pole, the harder to earn endorsements.

Although it is not necessarily doom and gloom as the World Snooker Tour (WST) announced that for the 2022/23 season, all 130 professional players will earn a guaranteed minimum payment of £20,000.

Something that comes in the shape of two £10,000 payments across the season and if you are Sean O'Sullivan this would constitute an increase of £2,750 on the previous year – not only that but these payments are not dependent on performance.

Should a player earn more than £20,000 in prize money, the additional inducements will be removed from their end-of-season total. Therefore, locking in some degree of earnings and affording snooker players something of a financial cushion.

Rank Player 2023/2024 £
97 Gong Chenzhi 18,000
98 Liam Highfield 17,750
99 Jimmy White 17,250
100 Sean O'Sullivan 17,250
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If we were to use £20,000 as a benchmark for earnings, it means the top 96 players earned more than that figure last season - three more than the year before.  Anyone below that line will have gladfully welcomed the announcement from the WST.

Life would be far easier for any snooker player if the guaranteed payment were £33,000. If that were the case, then it would not necessarily have to be a choice between playing the sport that you love and trying to make a living.

At the same time, it is certainly a positive step all the same. Especially as all players currently ranked below 96 are on course to earn the equivalent of £40,000 in prize money over a two-year period (extrapolating 2023/24 earnings to 2024/25). But on the other hand, two years of the average salary equals £66,000 and the earning gap only gets wider.

Because you have to remember that this is not a career that is played over a single year. A snooker player can play for years if not decades and if they are outside the top 50, they are going to need rather deep pockets or a trusting bank manager to follow their dream.

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Snooker Earnings Q&A

  • How much do professional snooker players earn?

    Earnings in prize money for snooker players can range from under £20,000 per year for a player ranked 100 to upper six-figure sums for those at the top like Ronnie O'Sullivan who earned over £800,000 in 2020/2021 including a World Championship title and prize money

  • How do Professional Snooker player earnings compare to the UK average salary?

    Taking the average UK salary in 2022, of just over £33,000 per year, only the top 64 professional  snooker players in the world earned more in prize money in the 2021/22 season

  • Who are the highest earning snooker players?

    Each season, the player that wins the most ranking titles and the World Champion will be the biggest earners, but in the history of snooker, the top 5 earners are:

    1. Ronnie O'Sullivan £13,031,234
    2. John Higgins £9,402,769
    3. Stephen Hendry £8,793,581
    4. Mark Selby £7,266,479
    5. Mark Williams £7,215,654

  • How have snooker player earnings changed over time?

    Prize money in snooker has risen from a £30,000 cheque for the World Champion winner Steve Davis in 1983 to £500,000 for the 2023 champion, and there are far more tournaments today than there were 20 years ago. Taking three points in history into account, 

    2023 - ???? - £500,00

    2003 - Mark Williams £270,000

    1983 - Steve Davis £30,000

  • What factors influence a snooker player's earnings?

    The obvious influencing factor of the potential earning power of a snooker player is success on the table and in tournaments. The higher the finish in a tournament, the more prize money can be earned. This is intrinsically linked to third-party earnings through sponsorship and endorsements, which are more available in line with the level of success in the sport.

  • Are there any gender disparities in snooker player earnings?

    While women can and do enter and compete in the World Snooker Championship, there is also a dedicated women's World Championship - The disparity in prize money might be described as a Gulf with £8,000 for the women's world champion against £500,00 for the Snooker World Champion.

Methodology:

We used a number of resources to collate the prize money data used in this article which include the excellent CueTracker website and StandOut CV for the average salary figures


Editorial Team

This article was written by Dan Tracey, our Data Analyst at OLBG and fact-checked and edited by Steve Madgwick, our Editor-in-Chief and self-confessed snooker nut

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