CAREER DEVELOPMENT / JUN. 11, 2014
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Gambling as a Job? What are the Odds That you'll go Pro in Poker?

Playing cards all day long seems like a rather glamorous, easy way to make a living. You’re good with math. You’re cool under pressure. And you’re smart. So shouldn’t you try gambling as a job? What are the odd that you’ll go pro in poker, or any kind of gambling, and turn it into a viable career?

The Qualities of a Pro

On TV, it all looks so simple. You sit at the card table, you out-play your opponents, you win a few million dollars and all sorts of esteem. But as a career, poker is actually incredibly tough. Making a living through gambling is much more grueling than people think, and doesn’t have the sort of security that most people want.

  • Table play: The tournaments are where the professional gamblers collect all the glory, but in order to be a pro you cannot rely upon tournament games alone. You’ve got to be really good at table games as well, playing for cash. And if you’re going to be a pro, you have a win. Often.
  • Emotional control: Gambling is incredibly emotionally taxing. There are many highs and lows, and there are going to be dry spells when you just aren’t winning. You must be able to control your emotions in order to gamble professionally. You’ll also need emotional strength to avoid gambling addiction. Some professional poker players are gambling addicts, and it leads them down a dark path. If you find yourself anxious to bet on everything, you may be addicted to gambling. If this is the case, being a professional gambler isn’t the best route for you to take.
  • Physicality: It looks easy on TV to just sit in a chair and move chips around, but gambling can be exhausting. Games and tournaments may go on for many hours. You must be able to stay focused and sharp for very long periods of time. Keep yourself in good physical condition. If you want to be a professional gambler, you’re going to need great stamina.
  • Finances: If you’re going to go pro in poker or any other type of gambling, you have to be great with money. Know how to budget, and keep your gambling bankroll separate from all your other finances. You must be able to get through the ups and downs associated with this career. You’ll have to be able to survive dry spells. Know how to manage your bankroll. As your bankroll gets bigger, start investing your money. Put your cash into other revenue-making avenues, because if you rely on gambling alone for your income you’ll really struggle during those dry spells.

Gambling on Your Career

When you look at all the people in the world who gamble, very, very few survive as professional gamblers. It’s difficult to know exactly how many gamblers succeed as pros, because may of them don’t keep great records and not all are honest about their income. But the casinos in the United States alone draw millions of people a year. Only a few of them are professionals. 

Some people do succeed as professional gamblers. If you’ve got a cool head and a steady head for numbers, you may have the skills it takes to turn this into a viable career. But before you contemplate going pro, spend some time as an amateur. Learn the craft. Practice in casual games and tournaments. Read books by the experts. As with any other career, to be a gambler you must hone your skills first.

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