Do you have what it takes to become a professional gambler? Here’s a look at five expectations you might have, vs the reality of what you get.

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Makin’ that paper. That cash money.

What you think:

It’ll be slow at first, but once I really know what I’m doing I can start building a bankroll. Plus, it only takes one really big win and I’m set for years! Bermuda, Bahamas, come on pretty mama. Beach livin!

What you get:

poker table chips moneyFor every up, there’s a down, and the downs can be devastating if you don’t understand bankroll management. The best professional gamblers get to stay professional gamblers because they know how much (or rather how little) to bet. Take a look at our Pro Gambling Tips at the end of this article to learn more.

There are a few professional gamblers who make out like bandits, but there are just as many out there scraping a living and just getting by. A typical pro makes a bunch of little bets that their bankroll can afford, and comes out with a slight edge that keeps them around and able to keep buying in. That said, you have to really know what you’re doing to make a living this way, and even if you do, there is always still a dose of luck involved.

The Bottom Line:

It can be done – you can get rich by becoming a professional gambler. But it’s rare to make enormous amounts of money, and it’s hard to get good enough to sustain yourself. See if you have what it takes with a few free practice games.

The Other Players

What you think:

I’ll have to work my way up, but then I’ll mostly play with some of the other pros, or whoever enters all those tournaments. The ones on ESPN.

What you get:

touching cards pokerIf you’re making a living as a gambler you need to be playing regularly – that means more than just the occasional big tournament that shows up. Remember, you’ve gotta manage your bankroll by entering a whole bunch of low buy-in events to make sure you don’t lose too much in one go (unless you’re sitting on tons of money; then go nuts, I guess).

One way to stay within your budget is through online gambling, where you can get started with just a $30 deposit, and manage that however you’d like. Some places even let you start playing online casino games for real money for free. Click here to create a free account and get a 200% welcome bonus.

Another way to find enough games to play is to get to know the other gamblers. Find out about private games, house games: places where rich people are. Your ideal opponent is someone with more money than knowledge. Find out where the rich play near you, and you’ll be on your way.

The Bottom Line:

Unless you’re rich, you won’t spend all your time as a professional gambler playing in fancy televised tournaments. Most professional gamblers know many places to play – try to meet other gamblers and seek out private events to give yourself more resources and opportunities to draw from.

The Love of the Game

What you think:

I’ve had amazing times gambling. It’s fun, it’s a rush, and it keeps me on my toes. Not only will I get to gamble all the time, it will be my friggen job! I’ll go to work and play!

What you get:

The rush of putting it all on the line; the thrill of getting those big wins. Yeah, those feelings are pretty fantastic. But when it’s your everyday activity, there are some seriously diminishing returns. Beyond that, even more importantly, if you give in the allure of making your games exciting, you won’t be concentrating on playing the game as well as you can, and you won’t be as careful with your bankroll.

Remember, it’s your job now. And it’s a marathon, not a sprint. It’s something you have to take seriously, which means that even if it’s fun and games, it can’t be all fun and games.

The Bottom Line:

The rush of gambling fades when it’s your day job. It also hurts your chances of winning if you’re too focused on the excitement of the game to pay attention to what you’re doing.

Managing Your Bankroll

What you think:

I’ll start small, and build my bankroll up. Then I can use that to fund my life and my gaming.

What you get:

blackjack bankroll management appThe vast majority of professional gamblers know to separate their bankroll for gambling from their other cash. That other cash is used for personal expenses, frivolous purchases, savings, everything except for gambling. It’s important to have that disconnect between your gambling money and your other money. First off, if you just treat it all as one and the same, it will be more difficult to accurately track your growth as a player. Second, if you don’t keep you gambling bankroll separate, it’s too easy to let yourself gamble with the money you need to live, AND to use gambling money for life stuff.

The Bottom Line:

Set aside an amount of money for your bankroll and keep it separate from your other finances. This makes it easier to track your progress, as well as making sure you use your funds the way you intended to use them. If you’re in need of budgeting help, check out this article on budgeting apps that can aid you in managing your bankroll.

Getting Your Bankroll

What you think:

I’ll pick an amount, then keep growing it. Each time it gets bigger, I’ll play a bigger tournament, and so-on and so-forth.

What you get:

Here’s the thing: even the best players lose. That’s why the best players are those who play with other people’s money. Sure, it’s possible to make your own way spending your own hard-earned cash, but it’s a whole lot riskier. Most of the top pros you see gambling on TV have corporate sponsors, allowing them to take certain risks they might otherwise avoid. This isn’t meant to discourage you, so much as it’s meant to inspire you to look below the surface: can you find someone to bankroll you? How would you go about convincing them that you would be a good investment?

The Bottom Line:

It’s possible to create your own bankroll, but the smartest players are the ones playing with some else’s money. If you want to try playing with someone else’s money right now, just claim your bonus today!

Final Words

Professional gambling isn’t all fun and games (though to be fair, it does include a good amount of both fun and games). Real professional gamblers take time to perfect their craft: not just the strategy of the games they like to play, but also the underlying elements that don’t appear as obviously on the surface. They know how to manage their bankroll; they know how to play without searching for that rush; they know how to find the right players to play against. These things take time and training. It’s certainly not impossible, but remember to consider all these moving parts if you’re planning to pursue the life of a professional gambler.

How to become a professional gambler?

  • Learn how to manage both the ups, and the downs
  • Find wealthy amateurs to compete with
  • Learn to control your emotions while playing
  • Learn how to manage your bankroll
  • Learn how to get your first bankroll
Frank West is a bit of an itinerant gambler. An avid traveler and freelance writer with a penchant for games of chance, Frank has hit the tables in casinos the world over and picked up a copious volume of knowledge along the way. Frank enjoys passing on what he’s learned in blog and magazine articles about gambling and teaching people how to beat the house. He also covets his privacy, authoring his articles only under the pen name Frank West.