Becoming a Professional Gambler

I found this article on Slipperytoad website, originally published by Punt.Com blog, and it makes fascinating if not a little pessimistic reading.

Forums, blogs, bookies and betting websites are full of people dreaming of becoming professional gamblers. Being your own boss, working when you feel like it, making loads of money and watching sports for a living is certainly appealing to most people. Let this post (and the rest of this blog) be a reality check.


I see a lot of people giving up jobs to do this after a short time trading. They think it’s easy and straight forward, they think it will last forever… They haven’t thought it through.


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I’ve been a professional gambler now for over 3 1/2 years. Before that I gambled for 2 years before I took the decision to do it. It was the biggest decision of my life, certainly not one I took lightly. Giving up a guaranteed income and job prospects to gamble with my own money was extremely risky to say the least.

When you give up your job, you’re not only going to be risking your money gambling, but your entire future job prospects. Let me tell you, gamblers are not viewed in the same way as someone who works in a normal job. Compare the reaction you get when you tell someone you are a gambler to when you tell them you work in a bank. Even if you compare it to being a “day trader”, the reaction is a mixture of contempt, fascination and disbelief.


Most people will flatly not believe you. Gamblers are the vagrants of society. The losers that hang around bookies, wasting their family income on an addiction. No one believes it is possible to win, and if you have – it’s just luck. Like it or not, this is how you will be viewed. Some will feel sorry for you, others will not give you the time of day. You are going to be one of society’s outsiders.


Family relationships can be strained and tested. It takes a lot of understanding from family and friends and this can weigh on your mind whilst you are gambling. A stable family life is important, it spills over into your work – few jobs are affected as much by this. You need stability and space to work well. And vice versa, a bad day at the office should not affect the way you treat those closest to you, can you really say that you won’t be in a terrible mood when you lose £xxxxx on some tennis player that gave up?


Your financial future is now uncertain. You are no longer contributing to society, you are not paying tax – an advantage to the gambler sure, but it doesn’t improve your self esteem and further enhances the feeling of being an outsider.


Try to borrow money from the bank? It’s easier said than done. This is why you need to try to secure your future financially as far in advance as you can before you make it your sole income


What about future job prospects? If you need to work again, do you really think future employers are going to be happy with you spending a year or two gambling for a living when they read your cv.


How much have you won before you turn pro? It’s hardly ever enough. You need to make many times your current income before you do it. Make sure you have savings that are stashed away, preferably making you a reasonable amount of interest. I might have turned professional a year before I did, but I had to make sure I was safe financially before I did so. Not only for my lively hood, but so that I could work confidently and without pressure. You cannot perform in this game if you are too worried about losing your hard earned cash. Pressure on your profit and loss is deadly.


What about when you do take the plunge, your day to day life is going to change dramatically in ways you may not have imagined. Interaction with other people becomes scarce. You will be spending long periods of time alone, clicking away staring at a screen all day. The temptation to live up to the stereotype is obvious. Why bother making an effort when you can get up, do some work and go back to bed again.. Discipline. Working alone throws up serious challenges. Your health and fitness can suffer drastically. The way you interact with other people can take a tumble. Prepare for this in advance.


It’s not all excitement and glamour. It can be downright boring doing the same things day in day out. Boredom for some gamblers can be their most dangerous adversary. You can end up working on things you don’t need to be. Betting too much and over trading for the sake of it.


Gambling certainly doesn’t owe you a living. A normal job pays you for turning up, no one’s going to do that here – they are going to try to take money off you for turning up. It’s you against a world of other people, all of whom have opinions, some of them most definitely better informed than you. Just how professional are you when it comes to the crunch, are you certain you are at the top of the tree? How consistent is your performance going to be to combat everyone else and stay ahead of the game. There are some brilliant brains out there trying to beat you at every turn – be wise to the available strategies and the people you are up against and give them respect – it’s your money and therefore livelihood they are after.


There are very few real professional gamblers, the reasons above outline why. It’s incredibly tough to do. You are going to be tested mentally every day and you will need to guard against developing bad psychological habits. There are reasons why gambling can cause problems for most people. There is a fine line between problem gambling, pathological gambling and professional gambling. Many professionals develop problems, be aware of the risks. Here’s a site about different types of gamblers. It suggests there are fewer than 50 gamblers in the US that make over $100,000 a year. With all the negative problems you can face as a professional gambler, you better make sure you are being compensated. Ask yourself what a fair amount is for enduring these problems, if you aren’t already making that then is it really worthwhile.


Think about your life situation and your family life. You are risking your money and theirs. I was fortunate when I began that I was young, single and in a job that didn’t pay that much and I was able to spend as much time as I liked pursuing it, without overheads and relationship damaging consequences. It’s extraordinarily time consuming to begin with, especially as you are going to have to work hard to increase from little to a sum of money suitable to work from. Don’t underestimate the time this takes, and the time you will be spending away from family chasing something that might not even work out.


I know this post is quite pessimistic. I think it’s supposed to be. I’ve heard it said before that professional gamblers are pessimists, I’m not sure I agree completely, but in this post I certainly think it’s a good idea to be. No matter how much you think you are ready, wait a while longer. Wait until you are sure you aren’t just lucky, then wait some more… Know why you aren’t plain lucky, and be big enough to admit defeat if you have been.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

this post is a true reflection of being a professional gambler. i tried to go pro a few years ago after a number of profitable years as a semi pro,i had won around 15 grand over a 6 year period and decided to go for it,it did not go to plan.the pressure is different when you go full time .you can try to hard or get negative when things dont go your way.with only betting the flat its a short season to make money and i had a bad start to the season which really put me on the back foot.during the year i missed out on 2 big priced winners through family commitments both costing me nearly 100 pts profit.these missed chances were very hard to take.i managed to get my act together late on in the year and won 5 grand in the last 10 weeks of my season but it was all to late.i had missed my chance and had to go back to working full time.it was a difficult time but i learnt a lot.and i dont regret taking my chance .during my gambling over the last decade i have had a number of near misses to land big wins to break into the big time and with a little luck i know i could be betting full time now,there is a very thin line in gambling. i have had 4 or 5 narrow defeats that cost me 25 grand in winnings .i even had 2 near misses in one week that cost me winnings of 12 grand,you are always left with the feeling of what if!i have had numerous big price winners . and i have won 4g, and lots of 2g on single bets in my time to relatiely small stakes .but it is hard to break through when you have a famly and commitments.

Jerry banks said...

Excellent article Jason and so very true .I can remember when I first went full time pro, 15 years ago ,hardly anyone believed what I did ,even friends & family looked at me in disbelief
and was definitely treated as outsider in the early years .

Nowadays things are bit different especially with family and friends,though trying borrow money from banks is still hard lol .

Jason Coote said...

Great to hear your thoughts, Jerry. I agree with what you say. Most people can't believe people can make money from gambling. But in truth it is no different than stock & shares or any financial investments - there are no guarantees in anything. Life is a gamble.