Is it Possible to be a Professional Gambler in the US?

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Many people have left Las Vegas or some other gambling destination, or even an online betting site, after a winning stay and asked themselves the following question: Is it possible to do this for a living? The short answer to that question is yes, and plenty of people are successful professional gamblers.

There are many things to take into consideration when deciding whether or not to make gambling a profession. Doing something for a living is far different than engaging in an activity for leisure or entertainment.

Personal Traits

Focus, objectivity, discipline and a desire to learn and perfect the craft of gambling are essential traits for professional gamblers to possess. One only needs to watch the World Series of Poker for a short period of time to notice the difference between the amateurs and professionals at the table.

Sleeping late and showing up at a poker table at 8:00 p.m. and expecting to win is not a successful formula. Professionals have a keen understanding of the odds of whatever game they’re playing. They know what a winning hand, roll or sports bet looks like.

Exhaustive research and experience can combine to make it possible for someone to make gambling not just an infrequently lucrative hobby, but a profession instead.  There are other things to consider when looking to be a professional gambler.

What to Play?

In every game that’s played against the house, it has a distinct advantage. Whether it’s blackjack, craps, roulette, 3-card poker, slots or video poker, the casino or website has an edge that is inherent in the games. That means if the game is played long enough, the odds are that over time it’s a losing proposition.

Games of pure chance, like slots and roulette, are definitely not the choices of professionals. Nothing the player does can have any impact on their odds of winning or losing. There is absolutely no skill involved, despite the efforts of supposed experts to convince potential players to the contrary.

Can a gambler get lucky for a short period of time and walk away with some winnings? Of course, they can. But ultimately that’s not a great way to approach doing something for a living. That’s why professionals gravitate toward other games.


The game of choice for most professional gamblers is poker. In most cash or tournament environments, the players are competing against each other, not the house. The sponsoring establishment may take a small portion of the total pot to host the game, but it has no role in determining who wins or loses.

Good poker players know the odds of every winning hand and are very adept at reading the behavior of other players. In Kenny Roger’s famous “The Gambler”, he sings that “every hand’s a winner and every hand’s a loser…” There is a lot of truth to that statement, but even the best poker player can’t overcome bad cards.

Whether it’s online or in casino poker rooms, playing poker for a living is possible, especially if it’s against amateurs or lesser skilled players. Taking step up in class, however, can be risky. As the pot sizes and payouts increase, so does the skill level of the competition.

Sports Betting

An increasingly popular wagering activity, especially as its legalization spreads throughout the United States, is bet online options, depending on the website or state, are almost endless. Check your state out to find out what is legal. Between professional and college, domestic and international, there isn’t a sport played on which a wager can’t be placed.

Making a living out of sports betting is akin to day trading the stock market. The key is doing the analysis and research that reveals certain games or matches that the oddsmakers probably get wrong. Those types of wagers probably don’t exist in the NFL or the English Premier League.

There are other sports that have so many games that it’s almost impossible for the sportsbooks to adequately research themselves. College basketball and even college football present many opportunities for those willing to do the work to find solid bets.


Although the house has about a 2% edge over inexperienced players, those that employ basic strategy and certain wagering techniques can lower it to around 0.5% or lower. The key to successfully playing blackjack is to understand that both the dealer and the player experience streaks of winning play.

By taking advantage of their own runs and limiting the losses during a hot dealer streak, it’s possible to win at blackjack over time. It takes patience and extreme discipline to utilize the player’s options of splitting hands and doubling down at the proper time.

It also requires understanding that in the long run, other players’ actions have no impact on the outcome of one’s own winnings. Of course, being able to count cards is an advantage, but with six or eight-deck shoes in play at almost all casinos, its value is limited