Much like other professions that have been romanticized over the years, life as a professional gambler isn’t always the best way to make a buck.
In fact, even those who have been able to pull it off would agree that it’s probably in your best interest not to quit your day job. You might be coming off a historic sports betting year against the online sportsbooks and think that it’s time to take things to the next level and go full-time as a bettor.
Here are five reasons why you should reconsider becoming a professional gambler.
- The Stress Takes a Toll
Imagine going through life and never knowing if you’re going to get paid or owe a significant amount of money at the end of the week. This is what life is like for those who have chosen to make gambling their livelihood.
You might say, “Well, of course, that’s gambling.”
But unless you’ve gambled with your paycheck on the line, it’s hard to understand the stress of waiting for your picks to play out.
The good news for those who have taken up professional gambling to make a living is that they typically implement some system that spreads their money out over a large number of plays.
It’s more likely that they’d make a hundred $1,000 bets than make one $100,000 bet. This is designed to minimize the negative impact that losses have on their bankroll, which is a word that takes on an entirely different meaning when it’s your actual bank account.
Despite the sports betting strategy I laid out above, there’s no science or betting philosophy that guarantees you’ll win any of your bets at the end of the day. The lack of certainty can be extremely stressful, and there’s a large percentage of the population who just isn’t equipped to deal with it on a regular basis.
Chronic stress and anxiety, which are inherently present in anyone who’s gambling, can have serious health consequences over a long period of time.
Whereas a typical bettor who is simply betting as a hobby has several hours of stress per week, and their paychecks aren’t riding on the outcome. The stress that a full-time bettor has is enough for most people to never even attempt gambling professionally.
- You’re Probably Not Qualified
Obviously there aren’t any technical qualifications that are preventing you from attempting a career as a pro bettor, but the vast majority of them have high levels of mathematics or statistics education.
You might think of a pro gambler as a big sports fan who started gambling as a hobby, then took things to the next level and quit their job to gamble full time. In reality, there’s an impressive amount of brain power in the world of professional gambling.
The difference between a pro sports bettor and an amateur sports bettor is that pros don’t get caught up in trying to predict all the action with perfect accuracy. They’re able to admit that what happens on the field, court, etc. is always going to be unpredictable. And it’s not worth it to spend hours poring over stat sheets or game recaps. Instead, they focus on the odds, and make decisions based on what the numbers are saying.
Take some time to research the prior occupations that many of today’s professional gamblers were working in before they took the leap to become a full-timer. Most have a long history in finance, economics, mathematics, stock investing, and other high-level jobs that require a deep knowledge of numbers and formulas.
he alma mater of a pro gambler might be MIT, Harvard Business School, Wharton Business School, and other prestigious universities that are known for attracting and graduating the best of the best. The key to being a successful bettor is eliminating the element of “luck,” which so many amateurs rely on to be successful.
In order to do this, one must have a deep knowledge of how the numbers work.
- There’s a Stigma
Despite the recent movement that has led to widespread acceptance of gambling and sports gambling, that same acceptance might not be applied when you’re not just doing it for fun.
Of course, there’s a segment of the population who will instantly find you to be an interesting person simply based on your career choice. The majority of people, however, will probably look at you a little bit sideways. They won’t say it to your face, but there’s a good chance they’ve commented on your “gambling addiction” to someone else.
If you’re the type of person who truly doesn’t care what others think about them, then you might not be deterred by this component of the professional gambler lifestyle. If you’re someone who gets tired of people not taking you seriously after revealing how you make your money, that problem simply isn’t going away.
It doesn’t matter how much success you have.
You could make more than the doctor, the lawyer, and the professor. But as long as your professional title includes the word “gambling,” there’s a segment of the population who will always associate it with a deviant vice. Gambling has long been associated with problematic behavior.
Gambling addicts prove that it’s not just all fun and games when you’re risking your money on unpredictable events. With that being said, it’s easy to make the argument that day traders—those who buy and sell stocks every day— aren’t doing anything different than gambling. Betting on the outcome of a football game and betting on the outcome of a business’ earnings report really aren’t all that different. The success rate is about the same with each endeavor as well.
Unless you prove that you can consistently win money gambling, getting people to take your profession seriously is going to be a challenge. For this reason alone, many are hesitant to even try.
- Things Spiral Quickly
No matter how much money you bet regularly, you’ve probably chased a bet at least a few times, even if you know it’s the wrong thing to do. When I say “chasing bets” I’m referring to the idea that after losing two $50 bets, you try to win it all back on your last bet of the day by putting down $100.
Chasing bets is one of the most well-known mistakes that a bettor can make, but human psychology is such that we just can’t take a loss and not do something about it. When you’re just betting $50 or $100, it’s not going to ruin you financially. But as a pro gambler there’s much more at stake. And that’s when things can get dangerous.
If you’ve had a bad week of gambling and have several big payments, say a mortgage and two car payments, you might be tempted to win back what you’ve lost by taking more risks than you normally would be comfortable with. While there’s a chance you walk away a winner and make up for your losses, it’s simply not worth taking the risk of experiencing a catastrophic financial situation.
The mindset of a gambler on a losing streak can lead to bad decisions and serious trouble both in the short and long term. If you’re not comfortable with this as a constant risk hanging over your head, it’s best to avoid trying to become a pro gambler.
As exciting as it sounds, the life of a professional gambler is simply not something the majority of people can handle.
Only the most confident, risk-tolerant, and mathematically-inclined individuals are able to maintain the lifestyle for a long period of time.
It’s a good reminder that there’s nothing wrong with keeping gambling as a hobby at worst, or side hustle at best.
Even if you aren’t making an amount of money that’s enough to live on, you can supplement your day job if you put in the time to become a good bettor.