Can You Make a Living as a Professional Gambler?

Gambling is fun, and I love it. Most other people I know enjoy it too. But can you make a living gambling professionally? And another question, and possibly a more important one, is if you could make a living as a professional gambler, would you want to?

The answer to the first question is definitely yes. Not only can you earn a living as a pro gambler, you can earn a good one, in excess of $100k per year probably. And there are a number of different games you can play where you can win that much consistently. And you don't have to cheat either. But you DO need a big bankroll, smarts, initiative, and a bit of talent.

Negative Expectation Games
You cannot make a living gambling playing a game with a negative expectation. Games with negative expectations include:
Slot machines
Blackjack (unless you're counting cards)
Video poker (unless you play perfectly and have a perfect payout chart)

This is not an exhaustive list of gambling games that have a negative expectation, but it is a good list of some of the more popular ones. If you have dreams of being a professional gambler playing slots, then keep dreaming. And keep your day job.

Games Where You Can Get an Edge
There are games and other gambling activities where you can get an edge, and this is how you can make a living gambling. But to get an edge at most of these games, you have to be smart, talented, and willing to work hard. These games include:
Blackjack (when counting cards)

Video poker (with perfect strategy and payout chart)
Betting horses
Betting sports

Here's the thing to remember. In order to get the edge at any of these games, in order to have a positive expectation, you absolutely must understand odds and probability, and you also have to maintain the discipline required to act on it.

And you need the constitution to be able to handle the downswings, because you will have them. I have a friend who has played poker professionally on the internet for over a year now. He specializes in $30/$60 Texas holdem. Last night he told me that every five or six months, he's going to lose five figures, and that's just part of what he does for a living.

If you can handle that sort of thing on an emotional and gut level, then you might have what it takes to be a professional gambler.

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