October 20, 2020 7 min read


Can You Make a Living from Gambling?

The dream of doing what you love for a living is not new. It’s a lifelong ambition for many work-a-day people out there and if you do happen to have a soft spot for gambling, you may have asked yourself: can you make a living from gambling?

The short answer is yes, but becoming a professional gambler is neither easy nor without its financial perils. Gambling for a living invites a lifestyle that can carry significant financial risks and you ought to be aware of that before you get started.

In fact, your desire to become a professional gambler must not precede your expertise in a certain realm of the gambling experience, whether this is video poker, sports betting, blackjack, or something else.

So, in short, a person can become a professional gambler.

However, there are no guarantees that you in particular may become one. It’s all about chance, pattern recognition, and a good degree of luck.

Can You Make a Living From Gambling?

The simple answer is yes, you can make a living from gambling.

There are numerous examples of individuals who have defied all logic and won copious amounts out of their love for sports betting or card games.

Benjamin Tucker “Parlay” Patz was able to win $1 million out of parlays – a type of sports bet – just in a couple of months.

Yet, Patz’s accomplishments pale in comparison to that of Billy Walters, a sports bettor that has earned some $300 million out of betting and gambling in his lifetime.

Of course, both Patz and Walters eventually ended up in jail, and they are perhaps not the best role models for you.

Yet, there are others, such as Haralabos Voulgaris who was betting millions on NBA games because he had spotted a flaw in the way sportsbooks set halftime lines.

Interestingly, Voulgaris has also won over $3 million in poker, so he knows what he is on about.

None of these individuals had a medium gambling salary. Professional gamblers usually do not, as to how much they earn depends on how good they are and sometimes – how lucky they are, too.

It’s not just sports bettors who make a living out of gambling, though. Both Daniel Negreanu and Phil Ivey have earned over $42 million and $30 million respectively.

While Negreanu and Ivey do love to gamble, they don’t see themselves as gamblers. This is both reassuring and it should raise a red flag. You should never feel too confident about your success when gambling.

If you are inclined to try blackjack and are looking for inspiration from a professional gambler, we recommend turning to Don Johnson for advice.

The man is a blackjack legend and certainly not the favorite son of Atlantic City casinos which went $15 million poorer in 2010-2011 when Johnson was playing.

How to Become a Professional Gambler from Scratch

To become a professional gambler, you cannot be obsessed just with the thought of money.

In fact, anyone who ventures to study games of chance – and arguably games of skill – will always approach the subject with love, rather than a desire to accumulate riches quickly.

Some of the most successful poker players, such as Negreanu, Ivey, Venessa Selbst, and Maria Konnikova, have played the game not out of cupidity, but out of genuine interest in poker.

To start your journey to becoming a professional gambler you need to pick a game you love. This could be any of the following:

  • Poker
  • Blackjack
  • Baccarat
  • Sports Betting
  • Video Poker

Each activity comes with its own specificity and risk factors involved. A game of poker is slightly more skill-based than a game of video poker, for example.

Sports betting is a fantastic opportunity for those lifelong sports buffs that are looking to cash in on their knowledge of sports, whether they become professional tipsters or bettors themselves.

Blackjack is certainly a great way to earn money when playing in land-based casinos, but the downside is that to do so, you will have to learn how to count cards and casinos have unofficially banned card counting.

With this in mind, we would recommend focusing on the two or three activities that have the highest scalability, specifically: poker, video poker, and sports betting.

To become a professional gambler in any of these activities, you will need a lot of practice and a deeper understanding of the activity you are engaging with.

If you need motivation on becoming a professional gambler from scratch, we recommend reading The Biggest Bluff by Maria Konnikova, a Ph.D. who studied for research purposes but has since won $311,368 in live poker winnings.  

What Is a Professional Sports Gambler and Should You Be One?

Now, while there are many people who enjoy blackjack and definitely poker, becoming a professional sports gambler is one of the most coveted experiences out there among sports fans.

At some point, a sports bettor just thinks – what if I could use all my knowledge of sports to turn a profit?

However, being a sports bettor is not the same as being a sports fan. The latter suggests an emotional connection with a team or a wager you are about to place.

A professional sports gambler, though, knows better and he or she will always only care about one thing and one thing alone – value.

Professional sports gamblers do not need value, they need better lines, and that is why most bettors move to states where sports betting is allowed and they can pick from multiple sportsbooks.

Of course, with sports betting now legal across the United States, placing bets online is easier, empowering more people to pursue a career as professional sports gamblers.

Getting to the top is certainly not easy, though. Most sports bettors do not simply study sports – they live them.

They analyze lines and fixtures and build parlays for pocket change to extract a massive return.

However, it’s not just a simple matter of picking out random games or teams, players, or proposition bets.

Every parlay is calculated and every line is compared against all other sportsbooks. Being a professional sports gambler means extracting seemingly negligible advantages from betting opportunities so that when it all stacks up, you end up with a tidy profit.

Sports bettors know how to manage their bankroll well and they do not care about sportsbook bonuses. Bettors develop their own systems that cannot be copied because they are tailored for a single season only.

The question is: do you have what it takes?

Professional Gambler Salary: What to Expect

A gambler’s salary is not carved in stone and it can never be. Since gambling is about as volatile as any activity can get, there is no way to expect a flat rate of return over a specific period of time.

In fact, there is no way to expect any return at all. The individuals who make it do not actually earn a professional gambler salary.

Rather, they collect winnings from numerous activities, bets, games, and so on, to add to their overall bankroll, which can disappear just as quickly as it has arrived unless the gambler is careful.

So, with no professional gambler salary fixed, why do people still choose to go down this perilous road in the first place?

Some say it’s a lot of fun and others are convinced and even determined to succeed despite all. The truth is gambling invites a lifestyle that can have serious financial repercussions.

On the flip side, though, as long as you can control your gambling habits and post some relative success, you may find yourself in possession of some extra funds.

Surely, this won’t be a professional gambler salary, but if you ever make it to where Haralabos Voulgaris and Daniel Negreanu are today, would you really need a salary?

Perhaps you wouldn’t.

Yet, make sure never to jump the gun and not to get too carried away with your dream of becoming a professional gambler.

If the opportunity presents itself you should seize it, but other than that, to become a professional gambler you need patience and more importantly dedication to honing your knowledge on the skill portion of the game.

Lead Editor

Mike made his mark on the industry at a young age as a consultant to companies that would grow to become regulators. Now he dedicates his weekdays to his new project a the lead editor of GamblingNews.com, aiming to educate the masses on the latest developments in the gambling circuit.


  • Katia Pisani
    June 20, 2021 at 4:26 pm

    I think this is a great article, honestly..I really thought gambling was a partner to the word compensation.

  • Vianney
    October 6, 2021 at 8:39 am

    Very thoughtful and mature article.. thanks mate

  • Aaron Ranye
    November 1, 2021 at 7:23 am

    Thanks for the insight.. I am contemplating becoming a professional gambler. I have gambled before, and as you rightly said, this could be my thing.


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