Is Sports Betting a Legitimate Full-Time Job?

By in Sports & Betting on
13 Minute Read
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The practice of sports betting has become ingrained in the world of sports in the last few years more than it has ever been before. It has been legitimized to the point that it is openly talked about in broadcasts and written up in newspapers and magazines.

But does that mean someone has a legitimate shot at choosing sports betting as their full-time job?

For the entirety of the 20th century and even at the beginning of the new one, betting on sports was kind of a dirty little secret. Sportscasters were forbidden from mentioning it, professional leagues tried to distance themselves from it, and it was illegal in most places in the world. It is truly amazing how all that has changed in a very short time, to the point where the connections between the leagues and sports betting are commonplace.

As a result of all of this, the practice of sports betting is more convenient than it has ever been. By simply signing up with one of the best real money sports betting sites, you can legally bet on just about any sporting event. And this can be done by simply firing up your computer or even pulling out your phone, meaning that the access is better than it ever has been.

The fact that sports betting has largely been legalized has removed the stigma and worry that came with doing it behind the scenes with bookmakers. With all of these factors in its favor, the number of people betting on sports has risen to heretofore untouched levels. And many of these folks might even have the notion that they can chuck everything else in their career and make a living as a sports bettor.

We are going to explore that notion in this article: if it is indeed realistic for the average sports bettor to become a professional and make a living at this pastime. To do that, we’ll take a look at both sides of the coin. And we’ll also talk about what you’ll need to do to succeed if you do decide to take the plunge.

What It Takes to Become a Full-Time Sports Bettor

Before we talk about the pros and cons of trying to make a living at sports betting, it’s a good idea to explore exactly what might entail. In that way, you can start to make a judgment about whether this is something that you can legitimately pull off.

Bankroll Needs

Investment-CashYou can’t just start from scratch and hope that you’re going to become a sports bettor. Instead, you have to come in with the kind of sports betting bankroll that will let you get rolling. After all, making a living at sports betting requires being able to make substantial wagers in terms of size, so you’ll need to be ready for that kind of action.

Perhaps that’s why the ideal candidates for sports bettors are one of two types of people:

  1. People who have already established wealth in either their previous career or via other means: Ideally, that would mean that you have a nest egg of some sort that you don’t have to touch, one that sustains you even if you initially struggle with your bets. The excess that you have could be your betting bankroll, so that you can afford to lose some of that and still deal with the normal costs of living.
  2. People who are just starting out in their careers: If you are going to take your chances on becoming a sports bettor, it’s probably best to do it before you have important financial obligations, such as mortgages, families and so on. You can give it a shot and see if it’s something that’s viable for the future when you do want to take those other things into your life.

Barring that, you really have to make an assessment if you have the financial wherewithal to pull it off. Can you handle the hard times when things aren’t going your way and you’re losing more than winning? If there is even the slightest doubt about that, you should really err on the side of caution.

Expertise

This is a difficult thing to judge without going through a period of trial and error. Just because you watch all the games and keep up with everything going on in the sports world doesn’t mean that you can expect to be an expert bettor. Even if you’ve bet before with some measure of success, that also doesn’t mean that you can make the jump to doing it full-time.

The issue with sports betting for a living is that you can’t possibly know how well you might do as a full-time bettor until you’re actually in the midst of it.

A small sample size of successful betting might not be statistically accurate enough to forecast what you might do in the future. Only a substantial period of time will determine if you have what it takes.

What we would suggest is that you do some shadow betting for a while (several months would be ideal). Go through the process, pretending that you’re making real money bets, and then keep track of how you’re doing, being honest about your results. That will give you a good indication if you can be effective enough over a long period of time to make a living as a sports bettor.

Temperament

This might be the most important factor of all when it comes to whether or not you can handle the life of a full-time sports bettor. The ups and downs of such an existence are simply going to be undeniable. There will be times when you’re extremely elated, but also times when you’ll wonder why you ever chose this lifestyle.

After all, even the most successful sports bettors will endure stretches where nothing goes their way. That includes the dreaded “bad beats,” where it seems like you can’t possibly lose until you do.

Do you have the kind of intestinal fortitude to handle those times, or will they be too much for you?

In terms of stressful jobs, it’s hard to think of one where you could lose or win thousands of dollars based on something completely out of control. And if it doesn’t go your way, your livelihood could be damaged for that period of time. If that’s something that seems like it might too much for you to handle, then professional sports bettor probably isn’t the right gig for you.

Why Sports Betting Can Be a Legitimate Full-Time Job

We’ve established what qualities and assets you will need to go into sports betting full-time. Now it’s time to play devil’s advocate and look at both sides of the story. First, here are the reasons why sports betting can indeed be a legitimate full-time job for those with the skills to pull it off.

More Angles for Bets

Live-BettingIf you were locked into a small group of potential bets, it might be hard to make a living as a sports bettor. What if those particular bets weren’t in your specific are of expertise? Or what if you felt that there wasn’t a lot of value in those bets?

That’s not really a problem anymore, because the best real money betting sites are set up so that you can choose from a wide variety of wagers. Moneyline, spread, over/under, props, futures, parlays, and so on, are all part of your menu. From those wagers, you can pinpoint key factors like variance, value, and potential payback.

In that way, you can approach your sports betting almost as if it were a math problem. Find the bets that give you the maximum possible return for the lowest possible risk. If you can become expert at doing that consistently, you can indeed make sports gambling your vocation.

Other Occupations Are Gambles as Well

The number-one job that immediately comes to mind as a direct correlation to the world of sports gambling is stock broker. If you really want to make a tight comparison, narrow it down to day traders. These folks see their fortunes go up and down quickly while essentially making wagers on what is going to happen with various companies and their stocks.

How much different really is sports betting from that particular dynamic?

After all, in both cases, you are putting your money behind an entity over which you have no control. In sports betting, it is an athlete or team, while in the stock market, it’s a company.

Many of the same terms that come into play in sports gambling are utilized by those who play the stock market. Maybe the stock market might seem like a higher-stakes endeavor, but not when you consider the high betting limits often employed by sports gambling websites. If you think that sports betting is somehow illegitimate as a professional enterprise, just think of the comparisons to stock trading and it should rid you of those notions.

Better Information

One of the problems that used to bedevil sports bettors in the past was that they were never quite as informed as those setting the lines. In the days before the internet, bookies usually had the inside scoop that the average sports bettor couldn’t quite gather. As a result, the house edge was intrinsically greater than it might otherwise have been.

But That’s Not Really the Case Anymore

These days, you can get the latest information on all the teams and players you might be betting. There are also statistics that can analyze how one team stacks up against another on the field or even how betting trends from the past can inform the results of the future.

That’s not to say that there are no sports bettors who make a living by going with their gut now and then. But the best way to do it is to support those hunches with the kind of information that can be easily called up at a moment’s notice. Those numbers give you more than a fighting chance against those who make the odds.

Why Sports Betting Might Be Better Left as a Hobby

We’ve given you the optimistic side of the picture. Now, let’s take a look at some of the reasons why sports betting might not be so ideal as a regular job. By having both sides of the argument, you can make an honest assessment.

Pay Can Be Sporadic

One of the most difficult part of the sports betting profession is now knowing exactly what kind of money will be coming your way in any given time period. It isn’t a 9 to 5 job where you clock in and out and get regular pay at the end of each work week. You just can’t expect that kind of stability from sports gambling.

Instead, you have to deal with the fact that there might be stretches where little to no pay is coming in, because you might be dealing with a losing streak. It could even be because you just haven’t found the right bets to make in that stretch, and are waiting it out instead of making risky plays. In either case, you have to be prepared for fallow periods.

That’s not to say that you couldn’t possibly overcome that obstacle. If you were thrifty enough, you could use some of the excess that you gained from a winning streak and put that towards the rough patches. But in any case, the pay for sports betting will most be irregular and volatile.

It’s an Uphill Battle

You have to keep in mind that the sports betting websites are always going to take a small cut out of your bets in return from them facilitating your action. This phenomenon is known as the house edge, and while it varies from site to site, you’ll always be looking at a few percentage points working against you. That means you have to win a little more than you lose just to break even.

If you want to make the kind of profit that will sustain you as a salary, you have to overcome that house edge and then win on top of that. How successful you have to be to make a living will depend upon what your ideal financial goals are. But you have to be the kind of sports bettor who wins with regularity at a relatively high percentage, which is a very difficult thing to do.

Because luck is involved, you really have to make sure that you’re right with your insight most of the time. That will help you overcome those occasions when you make the correct selection but are beaten by some screwy luck. When you add all of that up, you start to realize that you really have to be an elite-level sports bettor, of which there are very few, to even have a shot of making sustainable profit.

No Benefits

If you choose the route of being a professional sports bettor, you would be essentially self-employed. As a result, many of the perks that would come from being associated with a company or being an employee of some entity would be absent. You would have to make sure that you compensate for that in some way.

What that means is that you might have to purchase your own health insurance. In addition, you would have to formulate your own retirement plan. If you wished to take time off, you wouldn’t get paid for that as you might by a company, so you’d have to account for that yourself.

When you factor all of that into a specific salary that you’d ideally like to pull in each year, it is a significant amount. And you would have to be the one to handle all of the logistics of such an undertaking even if you could afford it. All of the aforementioned perks are extremely important, so it’s not a good idea to neglect them in any way.

Tips for Making Professional Sports Gambling Your Living

Let’s say that, after reading all of the pros and cons, you’ve decided to try your luck as a full-time professional gambler. What are the steps that you should take to make that happen? Here are a few tips that you should remember as you embark on what could be an exciting journey.

Learn Your Areas of Expertise

The best sports gamblers are the ones who are the most selective in their wagers. Even if they are trying to make a living, they aren’t trying to do it by betting every game that comes down the pike in every conceivable market. Instead, they put their money where their expertise is, because they know that’s where they get the best results.

Of course, there might be times when you want to branch out if you think that there’s some value in a specific market. But if, for example, you feel pretty good about the Thursday night college football schedule each week, you should set up your budget so that it’s weighted towards that. You should be able to benefit from your strengths if you’re disciplined enough to stick with them.

But first you have to be able to identify them. That’s another reason why we strongly suggest a trial period before you try to become a full-time sports bettor. You can use that time to see where you’re getting your best results so that you can focus on that when it is time to go after it full-time.

Use Every Advantage You Have

As we mentioned earlier, your margin for error is slim when it comes to potentially making a long-term profit, one big enough to make a living, as a sports gambler. That’s why you shouldn’t neglect the opportunities that you have to help yourself a little bit. There are ways that you can give yourself a boost against the house.

First of all, choose the sports gambling sites that offer you excellent bonuses for your doing business with them. These sites should go beyond the welcome bonuses offered to every single player just for signing up. You should also be on the lookout for reload bonuses, loss rebates, VIP perks, and anything else that might stretch your gambling dollar just a bit further.

On top of that, the old Smokey Robinson song saying that you better shop around was dead-on accurate. Once you know what you want to bet, make sure you find the sites offering the best odds on those bets so that you can maximize your payback if you win. That might make a difference of only cents on the dollar with one bet, but all of that will add up over time if you’re consistent with your searching.

Know When to Quit

Just because you’ve decided to make sports gambling your career, it doesn’t mean that you have to stick with that decision. Give yourself an ample amount of time before you make any decisions. Remember that a losing streak can be a product of a small sample size in much the same way as a winning streak, so don’t be too rash.

But if you are several months or even a few years into your stint as a professional sports gambler and you’re not getting the results you want, you can make a switch. Or maybe you’re making money but you’re just finding that you can’t handle the strain of it all. In any case, there is no shame in admitting that it isn’t for you.

Ideally, your stint as a sports gambler should be both financially successful and emotionally rewarding. If you’re falling short in either one of those departments, you might want to reconsider. In other words, you should put the same due diligence into assessing your status as a sports gambler as you did when you made the decision to take it on in the first place.

Conclusion

The bottom line here is that becoming a sports gambler for a living is doable, but far from easy. You have to be able to combine the right kind of temperament with financial solidity and sports betting acumen.

That’s a lot to get right. But if all of that sounds like you, don’t be afraid to go for it.

Jim Beviglia

Jim Beviglia joined Gamblingsites.org as a staff writer in 2018, parlaying his years of freelance writing into contributions on a number of different topics. He handles the sport of horse racing for GamblingSites.org and the intersection between the worlds of cryptocurrency and online gambling in a weekly blog. For his full-time job, Jim handles the television and track announcing duties at a h ...

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