Have you ever thought about becoming a professional gambler? It might sound like a made-up profession, but far from it: it’s very real and it can be a very lucrative one at that. The question is: are you made up to be one?
Gambling for a living might seem like a dream come true, especially if you’re the type of person who enjoys placing bets on all kinds of things and making a bit of extra money on the side whenever you can. And while gambling carried a certain stigma and was once considered to be nothing more than a money-grabbing hobby, that is no longer the case – in fact, the growth of online gambling and the lack of taxes on betting wins has allowed gamblers to turn a profitable habit into a full-time career.
What’s rather interesting is that gamblers from northern, urban cities and London boroughs with high levels of unemployment have gambled more than four times the amount bet in richer rural areas in southern England, according to The Guardian. However, unemployment isn’t the only reason behind Britons’ gambling habits: like everyone else, they play online roulette for fun to win real money. And with lots of casinos now accessible online, it’s easier more than ever for them to bet on games like roulette, slots, bingo and other popular casino games from the comfort of their home.
An insightful survey of 4,000 adults conducted by the Gambling Commission shows that bingo and lottery draws are the most popular form of gambling across all ages, and that those who gamble on a weekly basis are more likely to place their bets online and, more specifically, on:
- Virtual dog or horse races
- Online casino games
- Virtual gaming machines in bookmakers
- Online bingo
- Fruit or slot machines
- Online spread betting
While you can certainly make a bit of money by gambling, it’s not that simple. It’s not all about luck, and you have to possess certain skills to ensure you perform better than your opponents. Here’s everything you need to know about becoming a professional gambler.
What is a professional gambler?
Experts say that there are six main types of gamblers. These are the professional gambler, the antisocial or personality gambler, the casual social gambler, the serious social gambler, the relief and escape gambler and the compulsive gambler.
Unlike the others, however, professional gamblers take their hobby very seriously and like to think of it as a profession. They decide beforehand which games to play, they follow a specific strategy and they are always in control of the amount of money and time they spend gambling. They never go over the line and they always take carefully calculated risks. Professional gamblers are not addicted to gambling, even though there is a high chance of becoming compulsive gamblers if they make gambling the number one priority in their daily lives. Ultimately, in order for someone to be able to call themselves a professional gambler, they should approach betting as a job rather an act of fulfillment.
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. However, we should warn you that working in the betting industry, just like in any other career field, has its pros and cons.
For one, gambling as a full-time job is a great career option if you want to set your own working hours as it allows you to enjoy activities that you wouldn’t normally be able to with a 9-to-5 job. Another great advantage is that there is no tax to pay on either bets or any subsequent winnings in the UK. But that’s not all: you get to be your own boss, which means you get to enjoy more freedom in what you do and be totally independent.
Then again, gambling can be a dangerous passion to have as it poses a great threat to your financial and personal life. It might seem like a fun and easy thing to do, but many people often end up losing everything: from money to their homes and even their families. Faith Freestone, the managing director at Gordon Neighbourhood House, says that ‘professional gamblers talk about being in control but the problems start when gambling controls you.’
This means that when you start seeing gambling as a ‘full-time job’, there should be strict limits in terms of the pace of your work to help you ensure that you get to enjoy a healthy work-life balance.
So, what does a professional gambler do exactly? Your ‘responsibilities’ as a professional gambler depend on what you choose to gamble on. For example, most of the workday for professional sports gamblers is spent watching games and perusing stats. Gambling on horse racing, on the other hand, would require watching horse racing competitions, doing a bit travelling here and there, conducting some research into the sport itself and, of course, coming up with a working formula before placing your bets.
If the 9-to-5 work schedule doesn’t work for you, you will like the idea of becoming a professional gambler. As you can imagine, there are no set working hours for you – just like freelancers, you get to set your own hours.
The only difference with gambling as a profession is that you have to choose whether you should play in a casino or online. If you are an internet gambler, you can work at any time you wish (or when there are available sessions online for poker and other card games), whereas when visiting casinos, you would work during the most unsocial hours of the day (or night, considering that most British casinos close at 4am).
While you won’t be earning a salary per se, the potential earnings as a professional gambler are huge. However, this largely depends on how often you gamble, how good you are at it and how much you gamble, meaning how high your stakes are.
Brad Byers, a professional sports gambler, says that your salary actually depends on how often you win. If you don’t have any other source of income, it might be extremely difficult to make a living out of gambling because it doesn’t guarantee a set amount of money each month. Becoming a professional gambler requires that you are comfortable with financial instability. Meanwhile, Byers says that you must win 52.4 per cent of even-money bets just to avoid losing money and closer to 55 per cent year-round to earn a worthwhile living.
Believe it or not, you can actually get a degree in gambling. Some educational institutes across the UK – like Salford University, for example – offer gambling studies as a second subject in a course that is combined with Business, Economics and Finance. That’s exactly what Michael Cain did. In an interview with Times Higher Education, Cain revealed he and his peers study gambling ‘from an academic point of view. Most of the course comprises business economics, but there are also lectures on the psychology and sociology of gambling and the effect of gambling on society as well as sessions on government regulation of the industry. Two visiting experts from Las Vegas come over to give lectures as well.’
The casino industry fully backs the Salford programme which is designed to produce a higher grade of casino staff including managers and inspectors. Gambling, which has become part of a course in economics, teaches students the ‘art of betting’ through chance and the science of probabilities. It offers them seven three-day sessions in full-time study, lessons on the history of gambling and development of the industry, business strategy, marketing, market competition and so on.
In addition, there are many courses available in roulette, blackjack and other games within the gambling industry, and it’s apparent that it is becoming more popular within educational settings. Students interested in gambling could also get to learn more about casinos through a specialist gambling academy located at Blackpool and The Fylde College, which is earmarked for a possible super-casino.
Skills and qualities needed
Professional gambling requires a variety of personal qualities that few people possess. Some of the most important ones include precision money management and meticulous record-keeping, and those hoping to pursue a career as a professional gambler would do well to master the following:
- Strong research skills
- Time management skills
- Stress management skills
- Emotional control
- Strong memory
- Concentration skills
- Problem solving/analytical skills
- Being comfortable with adversity
Just like any other career, however, you have the chance to continue your professional development while staying current on gambling practices. By becoming a member of the Society for the Study of Gambling, you can gain access to resources associated with the profession. The society organises two annual meetings on gambling which are held under the Chatham House Rule, with discussions on a range of topics regarding regulation, research and statistics, social responsibility and other aspects of gambling activity.
One of the most important things about becoming a professional gambler is that you will have to keep your gambling activity under control. If you love betting and you often find yourself at a casino, you might want to consider this profession – and who knows? You might just become a billionaire poker player!
Would you consider becoming a professional gambler? Join the conversation below and let us know what you think!