Being a Professional Gambler: Can You Gamble for a Living?

professional gambler

12 minutes

Last Updated: July 23, 2022

Alex Zlatanovic

The lifestyle of a professional gambler, as depicted in Hollywood movies and commercials, is quite fascinating.

However, being a professional goes beyond just donning a suit like James Bond, drinking exotic wines, and having a luxurious lifestyle.

With the growth of technology, these new-age gamblers don’t have to indulge in these expenses for a bigger bankroll with online casinos.

So whether you yearn for the glamor at land-based casinos or the convenience of an online one, making a decent living out of gambling is more than just wishful thinking.

While becoming a professional gambler is possible, the journey is not easy. Though there are great perks, you must be aware of a few perils associated with this profession.

This post discusses how to become a professional gambler and its job description. Also, we will reveal the professional gambler salary and professional gambler tax by the end of this article. 

Who’s a Professional Gambler?

A professional gambler makes a living from the profits of wagering on games at brick-and-mortar or online casinos.

You don’t need to undergo any test or get a license to try out this profession. You just need knowledge of gambling and accept the risks associated with it.

Many avenues exist to achieve this pro status – from casino games to sports betting.

The professionals have their own betting strategies and possess unmatched expertise levels. For them, it’s a game of numbers, and the margin for error is minimum. 

Top 5 Richest Gamblers of 2022

Suppose you’re curious to know how to become a professional gambler. In that case, you should first know about some of the wealthiest gamblers for inspiration.

how to become a professional gambler

These professionals have spent their entire life betting on baccarat, craps, poker, blackjack, horse racing, and more. 

1. Bill Benter (Blackjack and Horse Racing)

This Pennsylvania-born gambler started his career betting at land-based casinos in Las Vegas.

His degree in Physics and aptitude for Mathematics helped his career catapult to success.

The total net worth of Bill Benter is $100 million. He was so good at blackjack that he was prohibited from entering many Las Vegas casinos.

2. Edward Thorp (Baccarat and Blackjack)

Apart from being a professional blackjack player, he is an author and teaches mathematics.

He is one of the wealthiest professional gamblers, with a net worth of $800 million. In addition, he’s a genius thinker and a renowned member of the Blackjack Hall of Fame in San Diego, California. 

3. Billy Walters (Sports Betting)

Sports betting is lucrative, and Billy Walters is one of the few professional sports gamblers making an exotic living out of this profession.

With a net worth of more than $200 million, he is also the founder of a Los Angeles-based sports betting company. But unfortunately, he spent five years in jail on insider trading charges. 

4. Phil Ivey (Poker)

This California-based professional gambler is 4th on our list with a net worth of $100 million.

phil ivey a pro gambler

His total winnings include $19 million in live poker tournaments. In addition, he is a world champion eight times winner of the World Series of Poker.

5. Chris Ferguson (Poker)

Like other professional gamblers, Chris started playing poker in his teenage days. He’s the only player to win three WSOP circuits and five bracelets.

With a net worth of more than $80 million, he is one of the richest gamblers residing in the United States.

Job Description and Working Hours

So, what’s a professional gambler do exactly? Being a professional, it’s your responsibility what you choose to gamble.

For instance, a chunk of the day for professional sports gamblers is to watch games and keep an eye on the statistics. 

Gambling on horse racing not only requires watching the competition but some traveling as well.

Also, you will conduct some background research across different casino games and come up with a winning formula before you wager your money.

Suppose you despise 9-5 working hours and want to have your timetable. In that case, you will undoubtedly enjoy the job of a professional gambler.

Like freelancers, there are no set working hours. Instead, you can select your working hours and play from afternoon till late evening or evening to early morning.

The only difference with this profession is whether you want to play at brick-and-mortar or online casinos.

If you prefer the second option, you can play any time or when there are sessions for poker and other casino games. While visiting casinos, playing during the unsocial hours of the day is recommended.

Professional Gambler Salary: What to Expect

The professional gambler’s salary is not something that is carved in stones. Unlike other professions where you receive a paycheck at the end of the month, you won’t be making a fixed amount while gambling.

The reason is gambling is volatile, and there is no guarantee of a flat rate of return after a certain period.

You shouldn’t expect any return out of this profession. All professional gamblers don’t earn a salary.

Instead, they collect winnings from activities like casino games and sports betting, increasing their bankroll and supporting a decent living. 

So, with no fixed professional gambler salary, why do players try to walk on this perilous road?

Some professionals say it offers a lot of adrenaline-pumping action, while others are determined to succeed at any cost.

The truth is when you get into this profession, there can be serious repercussions that you must keep in mind.

professional gambler salary

On the contrary, if you’re disciplined, possess exemplary skills, and control your gambling habits, the sky is the limit.

Indeed, this is not an ideal gambler salary but given the fact where Daniel Negreanu and Haralabos Volugaris are today, would you care for a professional gambler salary to support a living?

Don’t jump the gun and get carried away before you dream of becoming a professional gambler.

If you get any such opportunity, think twice before making a decision. You must be patient and honest if your gambling career isn’t going in the right direction.

Possibilities of Making Livelihood from Gambling

It’s possible to make a decent livelihood out of professional gambling. The above story of the wealthiest gamblers is a testimony that you can get high returns from this job.

Also, there are many examples of other people (not professionals) who have defied logic to win massive amounts from card games and sports betting.

In just a couple of months, Benjamin Tucker Patz made $1 million by playing parlays (type of sports betting).

Yes, accomplishments of Benjamin are pale in comparison to Billy Walters, who has made more than $300 million in his lifetime. But both eventually landed behind bars and are perhaps not the best role models for you.

Also, there are others like Haralabos Voulgaris, who have made millions by betting on NBA games.

He could detect a flaw in how bookies set halftime lines. It’s said he made more than $3 million by playing poker, and he definitely knows what he’s doing.

None of the individuals mentioned above had an average gambling salary. The income of professional gamblers mainly depends on how skilled they are and how lucky they can be while playing certain games or wagering on particular sports. 

Suppose you’re inclined towards blackjack and looking for inspiration to become a professional.

In that case, we recommend paying attention to the advice of Don Johnson. He’s a legend and made more than $15 million playing at Atlantic City casinos from 2010-11.

Pros and Cons of Being a Professional Gambler

Every job has its share of ups and downs, and professional gambling has some benefits and drawbacks.

Before embarking on it as a career option, you should consider these pros and cons thoroughly.


  • If you love casino games and sports betting, you won’t feel like working
  • There’s a unique level of satisfaction when you beat the bookmaker’s odds
  • Professional gambler tax is applied on your winnings while placing bets
  • Gambling can provide big income, but only if you’re committed and devoted


  • Always a risk of being banned by bookmakers or thrown out of casinos
  • Research and thorough knowledge is required with higher expertise
  • Good bankroll management is required where you can afford a loss
  • Turns pleasurable pastimes like watching sports into daily chores
  • There is no guarantee that you will make a lot of money

Becoming a Professional Gambler from the Scratch

There is no point in sugar coating on becoming a professional gambler. This profession requires every bit of patience, experience, and honing the skills before you can gamble for a living.

To become a professional gambler from scratch, you must do the following.

1. Learn and Study

Making a decent living out of gambling requires learning which is a never-ending process.

For example, there is always a horse race or soccer tournament in some parts of the world.

Therefore, you must become a student of the sports or games you want to wager on. You will realize the value of bets by imbibing a decent amount of knowledge.

professional gambler tax

There’s a famous saying that form is temporary, but class is permanent. Of course, there would be times when you will incur losses, but you need to keep your cool.

Studying trends and analyzing statistics is a pivotal part of a gambler’s profession.

Knowledge is power, and if you don’t possess an understanding of games and sports, you can’t make the right decisions.

2. High Level of Commitment

To become a professional sports gambler, you need to show a full commitment level. It won’t offer long-term results if you’re half-heartedly playing casino games or wagering on sports.

For instance, if there’s a sporting event, it’s better to watch the match first and place wagers like twin brothers Alex and Gavin Walker did with in-play bets.

Both siblings watched a minimum of five sports in a given day and committed themselves with complete dedication for success.

As a result, in less than two years, the twin brothers made £440,000. This example shows what it takes to be a professional gambler; nothing is impossible if you’re laborious and devoted. 

3. Control Over Emotions

Another way how to become a professional gambler is by having emotions under control and making decisions based on hard logic.

To become a successful professional gambler, there is no room for emotions and sentiments. So instead of following your heart, follow your head to make meaningful decisions.

If you play poker, you must keep your cool and don’t allow emotions to take the upper hand.

This game is all about bluffing and if you have firm control over emotions. Closed tied with emotions is keeping superstitions at bay. Rituals and lucky charms can be comforting but don’t make you win all the time. 

Things to Consider before Making Gambling a Profession

Now that you have a brief understanding of how to become a professional gambler, it’s time to think about certain things before you get started.

To make gambling a full-time career option, consider these things before you hop on the ship.

1. Hourly Earnings

How much salary you’re earning from your current job? If you already know, this is a simple calculation.

However, it’s essential to consider before becoming a professional gambler. For example, if you work 40 hours a week at $25 per hour, you’re making $1000 every week.

Can you get the same amount weekly from full-time gambling?

The answer can be a big YES if you can make this much amount every week. However, it’s not that easy. Below are a few things you can do to replace the amount you win from gambling activities.

  • Select a gambling activity that you can play well and learn to win
  • Have a sufficient amount of bankroll at any level to generate profits
  • Gamble weekly to earn adequate money to replace current income

2. Healthcare Costs

Maybe you have become a professional sports gambler and earning enough money. Still, you require additional considerations to make this a full-time profession.

Healthcare costs are a key consideration that you can’t ignore. In the USA and the UK, a single emergency room visit without insurance can have financial implications.

Many professional gamblers don’t buy health insurance and believe they are financially strong to bear medical expenses.

making living as a pro gambler

But according to experts, you must set aside an amount not less than $1000 per month for healthcare coverage. Many plans are available, and you will eventually find a good one with some research.

When you’re employed, the employer compensates if you’re ill or sustained injuries. Also, you get sick leaves and paid vacations from regular jobs.

As a professional gambler, you don’t have these perks. So set aside another $1000 for an interest-generating account and use it later when you’re sick and not earning from gambling.


So, there you have all the details you need about professional gambling and how to become a professional gambler.

There are no shortcuts to this profession, and hard work with dedication can help make a living out of gambling.

If you’re keen to become a professional gambler, you can’t deny the importance of a bankroll. Get a job that will pave the way for fulfilling this dream if you don’t have a source of income.

Browsing through online recruitment portals for high-paying jobs is a pretty good start.

Who knows, you could go on becoming the next Phil Ivey, winning the biggest online casino game with more than $23 million.


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