What it Takes to Become a Professional Gamer

To many, a professional gambler sounds like a dream job. You get to decide your own hours, jet around to glamourous locations to play in big games, and never have to get up to join rush hour traffic again. Rarely do folks consider the immense work ethic and natural talent that the very best gamblers around possess.

You might be thinking of jacking in the rat race after you won big playing blackjack at the weekend. Your consistent poker wins in your local pub league could make you think you have a shot in the World Series. Before you go gung-ho into the world of gambling, there are many things to consider first.  

What is a Professional Gambler?

If you make consistent enough profits gambling to not require a “real” job, you can consider yourself a professional gambler. Consistent profits require you to only bet when the odds are in your favor.

This instantly makes many games off-limits for the strict professional. You don’t find blackjack or roulette professionals since the odds are fixed. In a game like a poker, however, the players set the odds with their bets throughout the game. Similarly, betting exchanges and the proliferation of sportsbooks these days make it possible to be a professional sports bettor too.

That said, games that would typically be off-limits to a professional can become profitable gambles with the addition of a bonus. Professional gamblers and sports bettors will often use free money gifted by a casino to make a proposition more enticing or to turn a losing bet into a winning one in terms of expected value. The best of the best setup Twitch accounts and stream their sessions, be it online slots, blackjack or any other casino games offered by the best online casinos in the world.

For example, if a player was lucky enough to find a 100% matched deposit bonus for up to $100 with just 5x wagering requirements, much of their $200 bankroll would likely still be intact after the player had spun the reels the required number of times.

Professional sports bettors can also use betting exchanges in conjunction with a free bet to guarantee a profit. Similarly, arbitrage opportunities between different sportsbooks and other betting strategies can also make for guaranteed returns.

Now we know what a professional gambler is, let’s look more at what it takes to actually become one.

Natural Talent

As with most things in life, a bit of talent is important for professional gamblers. That doesn’t mean you need to be like the Rain Man but you should at least have something of a head for numbers. Professional gambling in all its forms relies on a pretty thorough understanding of probability. You’ll need to teach yourself how to work out odds on the fly to determine if your play yields positive expected value or not.

Like any skill, your ability to perform these equations in real-time will improve. Just because you’re not a maths professor already doesn’t automatically exclude you from becoming a pro. It would be a great starting point if you did have some pre-existing numerical skills or interest though.

Along with mathematical ability, there are other qualities that some people seem to possess in greater quantities than others. These include:

  •       Money management.
  •       Remaining cool under pressure.
  •       Ability to read people.

The more qualities you can tick off, the easier you will find going pro.

Knowledge

Your talent for numbers and remaining calm in a crisis means nothing without a solid understanding of how odds, payouts, and game dynamics interact with one another. All else being equal, the greater your understanding of the kind of gambling you are doing, the greater your eventual winnings should be.

Your quest to learn should begin before your career. Read books like The Theory of Poker by David Sklansky or Sharp Sports Betting by Stanford Wong. Understand them thoroughly and bring the concepts into your own game.

It’s more important to develop a general understanding of how professionals glean profit from what seems like games of chance than it is to look at specific hand examples. Your learning will be very conceptual at first but then you can get stuck into concepts more directly relevant to the kind of gambling you will be doing.

Doing the proper learning about how to approach the games you are playing makes it much easier to develop your skills later on and to keep your cool even when the going gets tough – which it will.

Skill

Once you have learned the concepts needed to make you a winning player, you need to start integrating them into your game. The more attentive you are both when gambling and when analyzing previous performances, the faster your skills will develop.

If you’re an aspiring professional poker player, you will need to record your sessions and review them. When reviewing them, you must detach yourself from whether you won or lost the hand and focus more on whether you made the mathematically correct decision given all the information you had at the time.

The more often you analyze your past sessions and work out equities at given points during a hand unfolding, the more intuitive your playing will become. You’ll start to easily identify the kind of popular spots you’ve been learning about from books and other resources.

Patience and Restraint

Finally, being a professional gambler requires a hell of a lot of patience and restraint. Most people will want to dive right in and start playing poker tournaments with decent prize pools and cash games with pots worth fighting over. This is a fast track to financial ruin.

Start small. Even if it seems like a 25c pot is pathetic, you will probably lose money no matter what stakes you play at first. Learn to beat the micro stakes then move up when your bankroll allows it.

This brings us neatly onto a point about bankroll management and restraint. Any professional gambling activity is just that – gambling. Even if you only ever bet on propositions with the positive expected value, you will still lose a lot of bets over the course of your career. Sometimes bad luck can come in epic waves that will see you lose a lot of bets one after another. This can seriously test a player’s patience and resolve.

Ensuring you always keep a few hundred buy ins for whatever stakes you are playing or betting will mean that the bad luck can’t entirely wipe you out. The larger your bankroll versus the stakes you play, the easier it will also be to keep your cool even after losing 10 buy-ins or whatever.

Patience comes into the game of poker in other ways too. Given the luck element involved, you must learn to be selective about when you apply pressure to other players. Knowing when to cut your losses in a hand is equally important.

Picking your spots is important no matter the kind of gambling you are trying to profit from. In sports betting, for example, the odds might not line up in such a way to guarantee profits for a long period of time. Staying away from mindlessly gambling on losing propositions whilst waiting for a good spot is what separates the pros from the mugs.

Still, Want to be a Professional?

If you’ve read all of the above and still want to be a professional gambler, fair play! We salute you. If you’re lucky enough to possess the right combination of talent and patience, and you’re willing to dedicate months of study and practice time to your skills, you’ll likely go far.

As you can probably tell, being a professional gambler isn’t for the faint of heart. You really do need to be just as comfortable losing as you are celebrating that big win.

Written by
GLYFE a gaming culture and lifestyle brand. We live to game. Visit GamingLyfe.com for all your latest gaming news, reviews, Esports highlights, live streaming news, Cosplay, and GLYFE Merchandise.

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