Vodka martinis, expensive cars, flashy lights—these are just some of the things that pop into most people’s heads when they think of professional gambling. This career might be a dream job for many people, but can you really earn a living from it?
Becoming a professional gambler is not easy, and there are numerous things that can set you back from accomplishing your dreams. The best way to find out if you should pursue such a career is to get acquainted with what it requires and brings to the table.
If you want to find out whether professional gambling is the right career for you, keep reading this article, as we’ll explain professional gambling in detail, tell you how much you can expect to earn, and give you some valuable tips!
So let’s dive straight in!
What Does a Professional Gambler Do?
A professional gambler is someone who makes a living by betting on various casino games (for example, poker, blackjack, etc.), sports games, and pretty much anything you can put a wager on. To call yourself a professional at gambling, you must win more than you lose.
You also need to have specific skills that will allow you to outperform your opponents and have knowledge that will ensure your bets keep bringing you money.
But, even though it can be quite difficult, a professional gambling career can also be quite rewarding, as it enables you to earn lots of money while playing the games you love.
How Much Does a Professional Gambler Make?
According to Glassdoor, the average annual professional gambler salary in the United Kingdom is £31,595, or approximately £16.63 per hour. You might even be earning 10x this amount if you’re lucky or incredibly talented, but these are the national average numbers.
How much you earn also depends on multiple factors, such as:
- The game you master in
- Your level of experience
- The amount of money you bet with
- And, of course, your luck.
The best part about being a professional gambler is that you don’t have to pay professional gambler’s tax. According to the legislation in the United Kingdom, gambling winnings are not taxed. Instead, it’s the casinos and betting sites that pay taxes based on their profits, meaning that your winnings will go directly into your pockets.
5 Steps to Becoming a Successful Professional Gambler
Now that you know what professional gamblers do and how much they make, let’s take a look at what it takes to prepare for such a career.
Step #1. Choose a Game to Master
Your journey to becoming a professional gambler begins by choosing the game you want to become a pro at.
Ideally, you want to choose a game you know and enjoy playing. Loving the game you want to master and having prior knowledge of it go a long way. For example, if you want to become a professional blackjack player, knowing all the rules beforehand will make it much easier for you to learn advanced strategies.
But, the most important thing about focusing specifically on one game is that it will help you avoid becoming a “jack of all trades and a master of none.” Instead, you will become an expert at one game and learn to dominate it.
Step #2. Be Willing To Study
Gambling professionally requires more than just playing casino games or betting your money on different sports. Whether you’re planning to become a professional poker player or a master at blackjack, you need to learn your game of choice from the inside out.
Sports betting, online casino games, and other types of gambling all have specific terms and rules. You need to learn them by heart if you want to make good decisions and be successful in your professional gambling career.
Once you become acquainted with the terminology of your preferred game, you then need to keep up with statistics and trends to discover recurring patterns in the gameplay. This will allow you to read other players easily, know why they’re making certain moves, and you’ll rarely be caught off guard.
So, grab a notebook, put hours into the research process, and you’ll be on the right track to becoming a professional gambler!
Step #3. Be Prepared To Commit
If you actually want to learn all about your preferred game and become a professional at it, you will need to commit to the profession.
For example, let’s say you want to become a pro at poker. In that case, you need to say goodbye to having free time on weekdays, playing video games, etc., as this job requires dedicating time to it like any other job.
What you’ll need to do is observe as many poker games as possible, learn about every move your favorite poker player makes, and practice playing the actual game, even in your free time sometimes.
At the end of the day, the dedication and effort you put into it is what distinguishes professional players from recreational players. You must keep in mind that professional gambling doesn’t have much to do with talent, but rather with the effort you put into becoming good.
Step #4. Leave Emotions Out of It
When you’re making big bets, you need to leave your emotions out of the equation and use the best of your knowledge.
Let’s take poker, for example, once again. There will be instances where you will face a bad beat or an angle shoot player. In such cases, you might get tilted, follow your heart, and make a wrong move. Instead, you want to base all of your decisions at the poker table on cold, hard logic.
There will also be instances where you have to bluff other players and not give any information away. This requires you to control your emotions while under pressure, keep your head cool, and play with a poker face.
Remember that the difference between a pro and a recreational gambler is that the former never lets emotions get to them and, because of that, gets things right more often than the latter.
Step #5. Learn To Manage Your Finances
If you want to become a professional gambler and have a long-lasting career, you must learn to manage your money. Acquiring proper bankroll management skills will help you avoid running out of money and getting into debt.
Essentially, you shouldn’t start thinking about gambling professionally if you’re living paycheck to paycheck, have student loans, or are struggling to meet your bills, for example.
Once you’re sure that you have a solid budget, you need to set a limit you can’t exceed when you’re gambling. For example, let’s say that you’re just starting out, and you don’t want to spend more than $500 per session until you start earning winnings that’ll allow you to go over that set limit.
You should also avoid placing massive amounts of money on single bets until you’re financially stable and your pocket can take a hit.
Avoiding unnecessary risks is a big part of professional gambling, so manage your money wisely and remember that even whales take calculated risks.
The Advantages and Disadvantages of Being a Professional Gambler
Like everything else in life, even the career of a professional gambler has its highs and lows.
The biggest advantages include:
- Becoming famous–Playing poker, fantasy sports, blackjack, or a few other games will give you a platform for gaining fame. The best examples would be Daniel Negreanu, Phil Ivey, and Gus Hansen, amongst others.
- Limitless earning potential–If you are disciplined and patient enough, you can gradually accumulate massive bankrolls through gambling and start making six or seven-figures.
- Ability to travel–If you enjoy traveling to interesting places, you will love the career of a professional gambler. It will allow you to see the world, as some of the biggest poker tournaments are held in the Bahamas, Vegas, Melbourne, etc. On the other hand, Europe and the Caribbean are the best places to play other casino games.
- Having a cool job–Gambling professionally is as exciting as it seems. You will be able to play your favorite casino games and bet on your favorite teams as your “9-to-5”.
- Being your own chief–The average person works from 9 to 5, five days a week, and follows the same routine day to day. Gambling professionally will allow you to enjoy a day off whenever you want to, go on a holiday whenever you feel like it, and have much more flexibility.
But, if you like these upsides of professional gambling, you must also be prepared for the downsides, such as:
- Common downswings–Even in professional gambling, downswings are common, and there might be periods where you seem to be losing over and over again.
- High learning curve–Becoming a professional gambler requires investing a lot of dedication and time, as it’s all about skill at the end of the day.
- Gambling can become tiring–Even doing what you love the most, such as gambling, can become boring and exhausting if you do it day in and day out.
Common Types of Professional Gambling Careers
As a professional gambler, you will encounter lots of different types of gambling careers. To paint a better picture, we’re about to go over some of the most common gambling careers:
#1. Horse Bettors
Before sports betting became popular, the most common type of professional gamblers were horse bettors. This career is quite challenging, as it requires you to understand:
- Which stables are doing well
- Jockey’s skills, weight, and morale
- Horses’ strengths and weaknesses
- Horses’ latest results
These are only some of the statistics you need to get acquainted with before betting on horses. But, nowadays, you can use technology-driven systems to determine the fixed odds offered by sportsbooks. You can see the fan-favorite horses, and by betting on them, your chances of winning will be higher.
#2. Sports Bettors
Most people like watching sports, which is no wonder that, nowadays, sports bettors are one of the most popular professional gambling careers out there. These people follow sports such as soccer, tennis, martial arts, and more, and bet on their favorite teams and players.
There are two types of sports bettors, namely, fixed odds bettors and bettors who know the ins and outs of every player in a sport. Fixed odds bettors wage against the odds offered by the bookmakers, while the others place bets based on the statistics and trends they’ve been following for years.
Fixed odds bettors wager against odds offered by a bookmaker or a casino. Fixed odds betting revolves around closely following what is happening on the exchanges and only betting when you feel it is the right time to wager.
Overall, both types of sports bettors develop strategies that allow them to bet in scenarios where they cannot lose, which is what every professional gambler aims for.
#3. Card Counters
Card counters in blackjack are one of the most common types of professional gamblers you’ll encounter. This is mostly because blackjack is one of the most popular casino games, and card counters can use their skills in the game.
These professionals can keep track of cards that have been played in the game and use that information to make informed bets. Even though it is not completely illegal, casinos ban anyone who they suspect is counting cards.
At the end of the day, the career of card counters is rarely long-standing and prosperous, so you should avoid pursuing it.
#4. Arbitrage Bettors
Arbitrage betting, also known as matched betting, is one of the most complicated types of professional gambling careers next to card counting. It requires you to bet across multiple sportsbooks and platforms, and find differences in prices between different outcomes.
By finding these margins, arbitrage bettors make sure that the odds are always going in their favor and that they always win their bets.
But, even though arbitrage betting has the highest success rate, it is also the hardest professional gambling career you can take up. If you want to become an arbitrage bettor, you need to excel at mathematics, know how to keep records, and spend countless hours checking statistics.
Tips for Pursuing Professional Gambling as a Career
Now that you know all about professional gambling, here are some handy tips that can help you get started:
- Bet within your means–To have a long-standing professional gambling career, you must never bet more than you can afford to lose. Always stick to your budget, no matter what your gut might be telling you, and no matter how tempting it is to chase down a loss on a day where you can’t seem to get it going right. Remember that gaining money is an action, maintaining money is a behavior, whereas multiplying money is knowledge.
- Be confident in yourself–In professional gambling, there are some days where you can’t seem to lose, but there are also days where you can’t seem to win. The latter is what makes or breaks a professional gambler. You might reconsider your career when you’re on a losing streak, but you must be persistent. Try different casinos, take breaks, and at the end of the day, stay consistent and believe in the process.
- Never stop practicing–Constant practice is what differentiates a recreational gambler from a professional one. You must always practice, even when you think you’ve mastered the game. Remember that there is always room for improvement.
- Don’t expect overnight success–Lastly, becoming a professional gambler doesn’t happen overnight. It will take time for you to learn the ropes, hone your skills, and make enough profit to call yourself a pro. So, take it one poker hand or a horse race at a time, and the success will come in time.
Hopefully, this article has provided you with valuable insights on becoming a professional gambler, and you found the tips useful.
In short, you should remember that:
- Professional gambling is a career in betting on casino games, sports, races, etc.
- The average annual salary of a professional gambler in the UK is £31,595.
- To become a professional gambler, you need to:
- Choose a game to master.
- Be willing to study.
- Be prepared to commit.
- Leave emotions out of it.
- Learn to manage your finances.
- Although professional gambling can take you places, earn you a fortune, and even make you famous, it also has a high learning curve and a few other disadvantages.
- There are numerous types of professional gamblers, such as horse bettors, sports bettors, and more.
- If you want to pursue a gambling career, you need to be patient, be confident, never stop practicing, and most importantly, bet within your means.
Safe Gambling Specialist
Harvey Dickenson is our safe gambling specialist. Harvey is a recreational poker player and an expert in online casino safety, cons, and scams.