A dream that many gamblers share is the desire to gamble full time and leave their regular job behind. A few gamblers are able to do this, but many that try to do it fail.
If you’re seriously considering starting a full-time gambling career, here are three numbers you need to know. I warn you, the numbers aren’t pretty. Most people who finish this article are going to realize that their dream of being a professional gambler isn’t going to become a reality.
1 – Hourly Income
The first consideration you need to understand is the replacement of your hourly income. This is a fairly easy calculation, because you know how much you currently make. But this isn’t the only thing you need to consider. The next two sections get into the really bad news.
If you’re currently making $25 an hour and work 40 hours a week, you’re making $1,000 a week. Can you make this much as a full-time gambler? The answer is yes, because some gamblers are already doing it. But it isn’t easy.
In order to replace your current income, you’ll to accomplish the following:
Find a gambling activity that can be beat and learn how to beat it.
A large enough bankroll to support the level of play needed to create the profit you need.
Enough playing time every week to make the money you need to make.
The most common gambling activities that can be beat are blackjack, poker, and sports betting. Each requires a unique skillset and not many gamblers are good enough to beat any of them at a rate that’s high enough to do it full time.
A blackjack card counter can work with an edge of around 1%, depending on many factors. In order to make $1,000 a week counting cards, you need to get $100,000 in play with a 1% edge every week. This might sound easy, but the fact is that you have to find the right games and not get caught. This decides the number of hours you can actually play every week.
A good poker player can grind out a living, but you might need to play 25/50 or 50/100 limit, or $200 buy-in or higher no limit and play a highly disciplined game to reach your goal. And one bad day can wipe out several days’ worth of profits.
Sports betting requires a large bankroll so you can place large bets. This is because the margins for a winning sports bettor are small. You might need to get $200,000 in bets down in some weeks to make $1,000. And some weeks, you’re going to lose no matter how good you are at handicapping.
Your required bankroll depends on your skill level, your gambling activity, and how much you have to put at risk every week. But whatever you think your bankroll needs are, I suggest doubling it to be safe.
As a full-time gambler, your bankroll is the most important thing in your life. Even if you can play with a long term edge, if you lose your bankroll, you lose your ability to play.
2 – Benefits and Health Care Costs
Even if you’re able to make enough gambling to replace your full-time job, there are still several additional things you must consider. Health care is a big issue for everyone, because in the United States, a single uninsured trip to the emergency room can destroy you financially.
Many young professional gamblers go without health insurance and just assume they can avoid medical expenses because they’re young and healthy. Some of them get away with this for several years before disaster strikes. Other professional gamblers are fortunate enough to have a spouse with health care.
I recommend budgeting at least $1,000 a month for health care coverage as a professional gambler. Shop around for the best plan you can afford, because eventually, you’re going to need to use it. Professional gamblers tend to sit more than most people, so you should also start a regular exercise routine to help you stay as healthy as possible. It’s also important to eat a healthy diet.
Health care isn’t the only benefit you won’t get when you leave a regular job and start gambling full time. Even if your regular job doesn’t offer paid time off and other perks, it still offers some things that pro gamblers don’t have access to.
At a regular job, if you get hurt, you’re eligible for worker’s compensation most of the time. And if you get laid off or lose your job for some other reason, you can usually draw unemployment until you find another job.
Many regular jobs offer sick days and paid vacation. As a professional gambler, you don’t get paid unless you’re playing and winning. When you’re too sick to play, there’s no money coming in, and when you want to take a vacation, you’re not making any money.
In addition to the $1,000 a month I recommend for health care, I suggest budgeting another $1,000 a month to put into an interest bearing account to cover any downtime you have in the future. I also recommend making this account completely off limits unless you 100% need to tap into it.
Don’t use it as a sick day fund or vacation fund. Instead, make a separate budget when you want to take a vacation and make sure you earn enough to pay for the vacation from your regular play. And if you miss a few days because you’re sick, play a couple of extra days once you feel better to make up the difference. This should be considered an emergency fund, and you should only use it in true emergencies.
No one enjoys planning for the worst, but as a professional gambler, you need to try to think of and plan for anything that can happen. Don’t gamble with your health or your future.
3 – The Worst-Case Scenario
In the last section, I recommended budgeting at least an extra $2,000 a month outside your normal monthly expenses. The sad truth is that even this might not be enough.
Many gamblers underestimate the difficulty in winning enough on a consistent basis to survive. Many gamblers also overestimate their ability to win on a consistent basis. Even worse, some gamblers fool themselves into thinking they have an edge when they really don’t.
The worst-case scenario is you can’t win enough to survive and you lose all of your money. If this happens, you’re going to have to go back to a normal job. It can take a long time to find a good normal job, especially if you have a gap in your employment for the period where you gambled full time.
I recommend building a reserve of at least 12 months’ worth of living expenses before you start gambling full time. Everyone has a different level of living expense, but as a minimum target, I recommend at least $20,000 to $24,000.
This is in addition to your gambling bankroll and separate from the $1,000 a month you should be putting into an interest bearing account. This worst-case scenario fund should also be put in an interest bearing account of some kind, and you should never touch it until you have to find a regular job again.
Don’t make the mistake of dipping into this fund as a supplement for your bankroll if you start losing. Your bankroll needs to be big enough to hold up to normal swings. If you lose your bankroll, it’s time to find a regular job.
I realize that the tone of this article may seem negative. But if it saves you from making a huge financial mistake, it’s worth it. The fact is that most gamblers can’t make it playing full time. And the sooner you realize the dangers and difficulties, the better your chances are to avoid financial ruin.
It’s not easy to build up a bankroll big enough to support how much you need to make every hour. When you add in the need for 12 months’ worth of expenses and an extra $2,000 a month for health care and emergencies, it’s no wonder so few people can gamble for a living.
Of course, you can start without worrying about these things. But when you do, you’re gambling with your financial future. The right way to start as a professional gambler is to make sure you have enough of a gambling edge over the house that yields winning results, be able to make extra for health care and an emergency fund, and never start until you have 12 months worth of expenses in reserve.
If you can’t do these three things, you should stick with a regular job and gamble in your spare time. Use all of the winnings from gambling in your spare time to build the security you need. If you have the discipline to do this, when you do get everything in line to switch to full-time gambling, you have a much better chance at being successful.
Michael Stevens has been researching and writing topics involving the gambling industry for well over a decade now and is considered an expert on all things casino and sports betting. Michael has been writing for GamblingSites.org since early 2016. ...
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