Why become a professional gambler. For those who want to become insanely rich without putting in all the hard years of work – which goes for the majority out there – becoming a professional gambler might actually be a good idea. Long story short, it’s possible to go from a small initial deposit to becoming a professional gambler. But you also need discipline, patience, and steady investments into your bankroll. Most gamblers aren’t willing to make these sacrifices. That said, it can sometimes feel impossible grinding up towards pro status. 9, 2020: This RMD table is in effect through tax year 2021. There were no RMDs in 2020. 1, 2022, a later RMD trigger age of 72 takes effect. And for tax year 2022, there will be new life expectancy tables, including the most commonly used Uniform Lifetime Table, created in November 2020 to reflect our actuarially longer life spans. Older retirement account owners.
Most gamblers realize that becoming a professional isn’t an easy path. A successful pro must excel at a specific game and be disciplined in bankroll management and other areas.
Even still, professional gambling seems like a very desirable job. You need only look at multi-millionaire sports bettors, WSOP champions, and card-counting legends to get inspired.
Being a pro definitely has its highs, including fame and fortune. But it also has plenty of downsides that must be considered too.
That said, I’m going to cover the highs and lows of being a pro gambler and finish by concluding if it’s a worthwhile pursuit.
Best Aspects of Being a Pro Gambler
Professional bettors enjoy a number of general advantages and benefits that are specific to their chosen game. The benefits discussed below apply to most forms of pro gambling.
Win Profits From Entertaining Games
The average person goes to casinos knowing full well that they have a solid chance of losing. After all, the casino holds an edge in all of their games.
Nevertheless, these people visit casinos and gamble for the sake of entertainment. While they hope to win, they’ll still get plenty of thrills even if they lose.
But just imagine being able to play the same games, only with an edge.
As I’ll cover later, this profession isn’t always as glamorous as it seems, but it’s exciting enough to keep many pro gamblers engaged in their job.
Be Your Own Boss
Being your own boss lets you set your own hours and decide your schedule. You don’t have somebody else clocking your 10-minute break or limiting you to half-hour lunches.
Those who gamble for a living get to enjoy this very perk. They can enter the casino or log in online whenever the mood strikes and stop playing when they’ve had enough for the day.
Depending upon the game, some points of the day are more advantageous than others. For example, many online poker pros work during evening hours and weekends when many recreational players are online.
But even in these cases, professionals have some degree of control over their schedule. They can choose to take a night off when they need it and set their hours as necessary.
You Control Your Destiny
Most forms of employment don’t give you a true chance to move up the ladder. You may be able to get a promotion after a few years, but you’re still at the mercy of your boss or whoever’s making such decisions.
Gambling, on the other hand, is a wide-open affair. You can improve your situation by studying your profession and becoming more skilled.
Of course, there are limitations to how much you can move up in the gambling world based on your bankroll. You can’t expect to consistently beat $1,000 buy-in tournaments and daily fantasy sports (DFS) on a consistent basis if you only have $5,000.
By and large, though, being a professional gambler gives you greater control over your destiny than most regular jobs.
Virtually Unlimited Earning Potential
I’ll reiterate again that some limitations apply to moving up the ladder in gambling. But the good news is that your earning potential is still almost limitless.
Nobody is stopping you from gradually accumulating a massive bankroll through sports betting and one day making six- or seven-figure wagers. Likewise, no one can prevent you from becoming a high-stakes poker player one day.
The key is having the patience and discipline to reach for higher and higher levels. While you may not ultimately make it to the top, you can at least improve your standing and win more money.
Some forms of gambling give you a platform for gaining fame. Poker, blackjack, daily fantasy sports, and sports betting have all seen certain players become well known.
Poker has especially created a number of minor celebrities. Players like Daniel Negreanu, Phil Ivey, Patrik Antonius, Phil Hellmuth, Gus Hansen, and Dan Cates have all gained some degree of international fame for their success.
How To Become A Professional Sports Gambler
Certain members of the MIT blackjack team became infamous through their card-counting exploits and even had a mainstream movie made about them.
Other counters like Ed Thorp, Al Snyder, Ken Uston, and James Grosjean are also blackjack legends. You may not necessarily set out to be famous when embarking on a professional gambling journey, but it can be an interesting byproduct if you become good enough.
Travel to Interesting Places
Card counters and poker players may find themselves traveling to exotic destinations in their line of work. This especially comes into play with poker because major tournaments are held throughout the world.
The PokerStars Caribbean Adventure (PCA), for example, is held at Paradise Island (Nassau), Bahamas. The Aussie Millions is staged in Melbourne, Australia, annually.
As for card counters, they often go where the games are good. If they’ve been thrown out of too many Vegas casinos, they may find more success in Europe or the Caribbean.
Of course, not every gambler wants to travel as part of their job, because it takes time and a portion of their bankroll. But those who do enjoy seeing the world will like this aspect.
Have a Cool Job
As a gambling pro, you’ll receive lots of questions from other people. They may even pick your brain about how to become a professional themselves.
This line of work isn’t common, such as being a truck driver, working in a factory, or being a salesman.
You may sometimes find yourself the center of attention at gatherings when others find out that you gamble for a living.
Satisfaction of Being Among the Best
Again, few get the chance to play casino games or other forms of gambling professionally. Even if you only last in this field for 1-2 years, you’re still far better than the average gambler.
Any type of game you play will be a competitive affair. You’ll especially face resistance in player-versus-player games like poker and DFS.
If you embrace studying strategy to improve your skills, then you’ll fare well against opponents. With the right work ethic, you may even ascend to the top of your respective game.
Worst Aspects of Being a Pro Gambler
The advantages discussed above show why people aspire to make a full-time living through gambling. But what many of the same bettors don’t take into account is that there are some serious downsides to this type of work.
How To Become A Professional Gambler For Tax Purposes
You may ultimately find that the pros outweigh the cons, but you’ll still want to be aware of the following drawbacks before throwing yourself into the matter.
Being a Pro Can Make Gambling Boring
Nobody randomly decides that they want to gamble for a living. They instead start out playing a fun casino game and decide that they’ve found a potential dream job.
But what may seem fun and exciting at first can become a drag. As a professional, you’re no longer gambling for fun.
You’re instead constantly looking for favorable opportunities and ways to maintain your edge. While this can still be rewarding, it’s not the same as visiting the casino once per week whenever you feel like it.
Poker is a great example of how boring professional gambling can be. The pros are often called “grinders” because they spend hours playing hand after hand and grinding out profits.
The rewards can be well worth the effort, but it may not seem so when you’re playing up to 12 hours per day in a multi-table tournament.
Income Isn’t Steady
Gambling is the total opposite of a nine-to-five job. You don’t punch in and earn X amount of dollars per hour.
Your income is based on a combination of your skills, how many hours you play, and if luck is going your way. The luck factor is especially tough to deal with because it means that you never know how much you’ll make in any given week.
Those who play in big DFS and poker tournaments especially know the difficulty of predicting their income. These gamblers rely on huge scores, which come very inconsistently in larger tourneys.
Downswings Are Common
Every form of gambling is subject to a degree of chance, no matter how good you are. You’ll be riding high when you’re playing well and luck is in your favor.
Unfortunately, you also go through periods where you can’t catch a break. You may make a lot of seemingly good sports bets, only to continue losing again and again.
These downswings can certainly be depressing. However, they’re something you must be fully prepared to deal with when gambling for a living.
You Need a Large Bankroll
You won’t make much money through gambling if you don’t have a big bankroll. After all, your bankroll determines how large of stakes you’ll be able to play for.
You don’t have to compete in DFS tournaments with four-figure buy-ins or poker cash stakes worth $200/$400 just to be successful, but you do need enough money to cover fairly high limits and your bills.
$50 sports bets and $10 buy-in DFS contests aren’t going to cut it. You instead want a bankroll worth thousands of dollars so that you can make the type of bets that’ll bring in serious profits.
Must Maintain Skills to Succeed
Just because you become a professional bettor doesn’t mean that you maintain this status forever. You instead need to work on your skills so that you can improve, or at least remain at the same level.
You’re not guaranteed a tomorrow with card counting, esports betting, poker, or any other legitimate gambling profession. If your abilities erode, then your chances of winning also go down the tubes.
You definitely want to study your respective game in order to keep up. Unfortunately, this means putting more work in away from the gambling side.
Hard to Stay Disciplined
Earlier, I covered how gambling can become boring when you have to do it every day. This problem can cause you to become undisciplined and take unnecessary risks.
You may start out with every intention of doing the right thing and placing bets with positive expected value. However, your plans can go off the rails after you’ve been playing poker professionally for three years and are bored with the matter.
Many poker pros make prop bets with each other because they want to spice up the action. They get tired of playing numerous hands and want to try a different type of gamble with each other.
Of course, there’s nothing wrong with a fun weight-loss bet or challenge on how many lunges one can do. But players should never make the type of wagers that could put their career in jeopardy.
Travel and Casino Life Can Become a Grind
Earlier, I discussed how traveling can be a perk for professional gamblers. Those who’ve always dreamed of going to Europe, the Caribbean, or elsewhere will appreciate where gambling can take them.
But traveling also becomes a drain, especially when one has to do it often. Many poker tournament pros tire of constantly being on the road.
Even if you don’t have to go far to gamble, simply spending hours in the casino is also a grind. Card counters and live poker pros know this all too well.
Some Look Down Upon Professional Gamblers
Having an interesting job as a pro gambler is good to some degree. However, you also have to consider that general society frowns upon this profession.
The average person doesn’t realize that you’re making money through skill. They instead envision you as a degenerate gambler who sits around drinking and smoking cigars.
This stereotype is no longer as true today, but that doesn’t stop many people from seeing professional gamblers as degenerates.
You’re Not Contributing to Society
You probably won’t get much fulfillment out of gambling when considering that you’re not producing anything substantial. Instead, you’re merely winning money off the casino or other players.
Many poker pros have cited this aspect when they retire from the game.
The same ex-grinders often find work in a field where they’re actually fulfilling a goal beyond just earning money.
You May Not Develop Meaningful Relationships With “Coworkers”
One benefit to working at a regular company is that you can develop friendships with your coworkers. You may even find yourself hanging out with them beyond the workplace.
Some gamblers have developed the same relationships to a certain degree. However, not everybody appreciates rubbing elbows with fellow gamblers on a daily basis.
Hard to Maintain a Work-Life Balance
The problem with making your own hours is that it’s hard to figure out where your personal life ends and your job begins. You have to gamble whenever a favorable opportunity presents itself, or leave profits on the table.
If you’re a DFS pro who makes most of your money through NFL games, then you’ll need to spend a lot of time on Friday and Saturday crafting your lineups. This is a point when you have the most information possible to make decisions.
Likewise, many online poker pros play during European evening hours. This is the time when the largest number of recreational poker players is online.
This sort of lifestyle creates problems when trying to maintain non-poker friends and a relationship with a significant other. The difficult work-life balance of gambling is another reason why many end up quitting the profession.
Is It Worth Becoming a Pro Gambler?
You really need a passion for whatever game you’re playing — at least in the beginning. Having this feeling gives you fuel to continue learning and excelling in your chosen game.
If you enjoy DFS then you not only need to like creating lineups and watching sports but also researching players and in-depth stats.
You can’t be successful when you just enjoy the fun parts and forget the rest.
Of course, you may eventually lose this passion after years of playing a specific game. Any of the downsides that I covered earlier can eat away at your desire to gamble for a living.
But you’ll only know this if you try becoming a professional in the first place. The reverse side is that you might grow to love whatever game you’re playing and embrace it for decades.
You, therefore, have to evaluate how much you really like gambling before jumping head-first into it. Try gradually increasing the number of hours you spend with a particular game to see if you still have the same feeling or if it begins fading.
I definitely don’t recommend that you go down the professional gambling path without the proper bankroll. You won’t have enough money to survive gaming’s volatility.
- A card-counting team, for example, is advised to start out with at least $20,000 to $25,000. They only have around a 1% edge, meaning they’ll suffer losing sessions almost as often as they win.
- A poker or DFS tournament player should have around 100 buy-ins for their respective stakes. Big tourneys are extremely volatile, meaning one needs a large number of buy-ins while they’re waiting for sizable scores.
You also need to be okay with the lows of professional gambling discussed here. Ideally, you want to feel like the pros outweigh the cons.
Being a pro gambler isn’t as glamorous as it’s made out to be in the movies. You won’t constantly be involved in dramatic games or win six or seven figures on a regular basis.
Instead, this job is about getting an edge, maintaining it, and slowly grinding out profits over time. As long as you know and accept this going in, then you may be right for this profession.
Of course, everything begins with having the necessary skills to win on a regular basis. You can’t call yourself a card counter or pro esports bettor when you lose over half your money.
You need to dedicate yourself to learning strategy and improving your skills. With enough time and effort, you may eventually have what it takes to succeed.
Gambling as a pro definitely has its benefits. You can set your own hours, control your destiny, have an interesting job, and win lots of money.
However, this profession also comes with drawbacks. Your favorite game can suddenly become boring, the income is volatile, you have to maintain your skills, and travel may become a regular thing.
To most sports gamblers, a professional bettor seems to have a perfect life. They wager on sports for a living, make their own hours, and earn serious profits.
That said, professional sports gambling may seem like a glorious career. However, it actually involves a long and slow climb to the top.
This guide discusses the realistic points of the path towards becoming a success when betting on sports. It also covers the small edges and long hours that gamblers must put it into turning pro.
Professional Sports Bettors Deal With Small Edges
When the general population envisions an expert sports bettor, they think of somebody who makes thousands of dollars with every wager.
They probably also picture a gambler who just can’t seem to lose night after night. The reality, though, is much different than this.
Instead, they have a small edge that they exploit through large bets.
Many sports gamblers consider themselves successful if they win 50% of their wagers at -110 odds. Of course, gamblers can win more far more bets against the sportsbooks if they back heavy favorites (e.g. -300 or better).
But -110 is a nice measuring stick for how successful you are in terms of win-loss percentage. Even if you win 50% of the time at these odds, though, you still won’t be making profits.
After all, you need to take the juice into account. A bookmaker takes 10% from the losing side in a -110 wager, meaning a 50% win rate won’t get it done.
Some handicappers claim they correctly guess over 60% of their sports betting picks. However, no handicapper or professional sustains such a win rate in the long run.
At best, one can only expect to be successful on 55% of their bets long term. This win rate certainly isn’t the 80% mark that many would envision for a pro.
You Can’t Expect to Win Big With a Small Bankroll
You won’t get very far if you have a 53% to 55% win rate and are only placing $10 bets. You can’t even earn a dollar profit from each wager at this rate.
You need to exploit your long-term edge with big bets in order to make serious profits.
Here’s an example on how much you might win as a lower-level pro:
- You place $2,000,000 worth of bets throughout the year.
- You win 54% of your wagers at -110 odds.
- 2,000,000 x 0.54 = $1,080,000 in winnings
- 2,000,000 x 0.46 = $920,000 in base losses
- 920,000 x 0.1 (juice) = $92,000 in juice paid
- 920,000 + 92,000 = $1,012,000 in total losses
- 1,080,000 – 1,012,000 = $68,000 profit on the year.
Unless you strictly bet point spreads, most profitable opportunities that you find aren’t going to be at exactly -110 odds. But I keep referring to these odds because they make for the simplest examples.
You also need to capitalize with large wagers as well. You can only place these big bets if you have the bankroll to do so.
You Must Build Your Skills & Bankroll
Sports gambling definitely isn’t something that you jump right into and immediately conquer. Instead, it requires you to put long hours into the matter.
You’re most likely not going to win right away. Therefore, you want to study general sports betting strategy while slowly increasing your bankroll at the same time.
You also need to work on your handicapping skills.
This way, you won’t lose too much money if your betting skills aren’t yet up to par.
All the while, you should also be slowly adding to your bankroll. This process involves saving money and using it to build your gambling funds.
You probably don’t have $50,000 or $100,000 just sitting around for gambling purposes. But you can build up to this amount through a combination of steady investments and improving your skills.
Eventually, You Need to Increase Your Bet Sizes
I highly advise that you don’t jump into sports gambling and start placing $1,000 wagers right away. Eventually, though, you want to up your bet sizes to make more money.
With a large enough bankroll, you may even theoretically earn thousands of dollars per wager.
Of course, you want that bankroll to back up those huge bets.
Otherwise, the volatility could ruin your betting career.
Therefore, you should put serious consideration into your bankroll size. Here’s an example:
- You want to place $500 bets.
- You also want a bankroll with at least 100 units to survive the volatility.
- You’ll risk 1-3 units on each match, depending upon how confident you are.
- 500 x 100 = 50,000
- You should start with at least $50,000 (100 units at $500 apiece).
Can You Grind From a Low Roller Into a Pro Bettor?
If you’re like most amateur online bettors, you’ll probably start with a $50 or $100 deposit. These amounts give you just enough money to make several bets on the games you watch.
However, you may also have aspirations of turning your small bankroll into a fortune someday.
The odds are definitely against you depositing $100 and eventually becoming a top pro. Then again, though, everybody has to start somewhere.
The reason why most sports bettors feel this way comes down to two aspects:
- They fail to put the work into strategy and handicapping.
- They exercise poor bankroll management.
Sure, everybody who sets out on the road towards professional gambling blames bad luck or external factors for their failures. In reality, though, the average bettor is lazy and impatient.
They don’t want to put an hour into handicapping a single bet. They want to put five minutes into handicapping 12 wagers and pray that they’ll win most of the bets.
Furthermore, the typical sports gambler doesn’t wish to grind their way up towards larger wagers. They want to quickly increase their bet sizes and take shots at the big time.
Long story short, it’s possible to go from a small initial deposit to becoming a professional gambler. But you also need discipline, patience, and steady investments into your bankroll.
Most gamblers aren’t willing to make these sacrifices. That said, it can sometimes feel impossible grinding up towards pro status.
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Tips for Starting on the Path to Becoming a Pro
As discussed throughout this post, you’re not going to become a professional bettor overnight. But you can at least get started on the right path by following the tips below.
Save Up for a Starting Bankroll
A $100 bankroll isn’t going to help you become a professional gambler. Even a $1,000 bankroll won’t do the trick.
You need a sizable bankroll so that you can make large bets and survive potential losing streaks. The amount needed all varies based on how much you want to get out of sports betting.
Of course, you don’t have to put your betting activities on hold just because you don’t have a small fortune.
Instead, you can learn the ropes by making small bets while slowly adding to your bankroll on the side. If you save up enough money, you’ll eventually be able to become a serious pro.
Break Your Bankroll Down Into Units
Most professionals don’t look at their bets in terms of dollars. Instead, they break their bankrolls down into units.
If you normally wager $100 per bet, then your unit size will be $100.
Of course, you’ll likely bet more than $100 when you feel extremely confident about an outcome. Therefore, you might risk 2-3 units in these situations.
In any a case, here’s an example on how to break your bankroll down into units:
- You have a bankroll worth $75,000.
- You want 100 units.
- 75,000 / 100 = 750
- Each unit size will be worth $750.
How Do You Become A Professional Gambler
Narrow Your Focus
You might be tempted to bet on multiple markets. After all, wagering on a variety of sports is more entertaining than just one or two.
But the goal here is mastery. You stand a much better chance of making profits someday if you truly know a market.
Becoming A Professional Sports Gambler
Going further, you should also pay attention to a specific division rather than constantly trying to scout an entire league. If you know one division extremely well, then you’ll be an expert on matches involving that division.
Never Stop Studying
Sports betting is fun because you may never truly master it. You could dedicate a lifetime to this pursuit and still get fooled by the bookies sometimes.
That said, you have lots of room to grow with betting. If you truly dream of becoming a professional, you should constantly be studying general strategies and handicapping tips.
As long as you never stop researching advice, you’ll improve over time. Improve enough, and you could very well make a nice living off of sports gambling.
Sports gambling may seem like a quick path to riches for skilled bettors. But in reality, it’s a long journey that involves lots of planning and patience.
You can’t go from zero to 60 and expect to win big right away. Instead, you should grind your way up the ladder while slowly adding money to your bankroll.
With this approach, you can improve your handicapping efforts while also building your gambling funds. You should also steadily increase your bet sizes—especially as you develop an advantage.