Both esports betting and professional gaming are legitimate ways to make money off of esports.
Of course, neither path is exactly easy. Plenty of competition exists because, well, many people want to make money off the video game industry.
But which path is easier? Do you stand a stronger chance of becoming a professional bettor versus a full-time gamer?
I’ll answer these questions by covering what it takes to go pro as both a gambler and player. I’ll also discuss which route ultimately gives you the better odds of making profits.
What Goes Into Becoming a Professional Gamer?
I’m not even close to being a pro gamer. My greatest accomplishment is barely keeping above a 1.0 kill-to-death ratio when playing Call of Duty online. I’d rather take my chances betting on esports any day.
However, I have put research into what it takes to become a professional gamer. Here are the main qualities that you need to succeed.
Master a Specific Game
Recreational players have the benefit of enjoying whatever game they feel like in the moment. They don’t need to master any specific game and can just have fun instead.
Aspiring professionals don’t have the same luxury. They must approach the matter from a different angle and specialize in one game.
Of course, this isn’t to say that they must punish themselves for even thinking about playing another title. However, their main focus should be on becoming the best they can with a single game.
Practice for Endless Hours
Every half-decent video game player has vague thoughts about joining the pro ranks. But lots of competition exists in the gaming realm.
The only players that rise to the top are those who spend countless hours honing their skills over the years. Some pros practice up to 14 hours a day!
Esports elites are similar to professional athletes. They must keep their skills and reflexes sharp to stay on top.
Watch the Pros
Unless you’re already a pro player yourself, then you should be watching the best of the best. You can either check out these players through Twitch or watch live streamed tournaments and league matches. Whatever the case may be, you want an idea on how pros handle certain situations.
How do they move across maps? What weapons do they use? Do they fight opponents in any special manner?
Studying top players gives you a different perspective on handling critical situations. You’ll find better solutions for dealing with various scenarios as a result.
Network and Look for Opportunities
Pro scouts don’t just visit players’ living rooms looking for talent. Instead, the onus is on you to make the necessary moves to become a professional.
Once your skills are up to the task, you need to network and get your name out there. You can do so through a variety of ways.
Eli Gallagher, a pro Overwatch player on the “Evil Geniuses,” made his contacts through a Discord channel. His networking efforts eventually landed him a spot on a future professional team.
“I had posted in a Discord channel, which is a chat service which a lot of gamers use, that I was looking for a team,” recalled Gallagher. “I got approached by a coach, and then going from amateur team to amateur team to amateur team I finally landed on the team Eastwind.”
Eastwind (now Evil Geniuses) would go on to perform really well in tournaments. These finishes helped them and Gallagher ascend to professional status.
The Odds of Becoming a Pro Gamer
The chances of becoming a well-paid pro gamer aren’t great. In fact, you only stand around 1 in 10,000 odds of earning significant money through gaming when compared to the field.
For perspective, the odds of a high school football player getting drafted by an NFL team are almost 10 times better (approx. 1 in 1,000).
Of course, I’m not saying that you should completely abandon your dream if you want to join the pros. Just keep in mind, though, that you can find much easier ways to make a living.
Of course, you might enjoy gaming so much and be so good that you’ll earn some money on the side. However, collecting a few bucks from your serious hobby isn’t the same as being a full-time player.
What Goes Into Becoming a Successful Esports Bettor?
The skills required to be a winning esports gambler don’t come much easier than they do to professional players. Below, you can see what all goes into beating the bookies.
Thoroughly Know One or More Markets
Just like with professional gamers, you need to specialize as an esports bettor. You don’t have to limit yourself to a single game.
However, you should definitely consider becoming an expert at just two or three games. Furthermore, you might also consider narrowing your focus to a single title as major events draw nearer.
If you’re a Dota 2 expert, for example, you should be studying The Internationals and nothing else as it approaches. Between prop bets and live wagers, you’ll enjoy countless opportunities to make money on such an event.
Of course, you also want to learn everything you can about a particular team. Players, winning strategies, and maps, for instance, are important aspects to know.
You’ll form a good betting knowledge base by thoroughly studying the games. However, you must put this knowledge into action through handicapping.
The latter involves looking at a variety of aspects to accurately assess odds of a given match. Your goal is to find value on one side and beat the bookmakers’ line.
The amount of research that you can put into a match is virtually unlimited. Therefore, it helps to develop a winning system over time through trial and error.
Own a Large Bankroll
You can’t earn much money through esports betting if you don’t have a big bankroll. With that said, you want to either start out with plenty of funds or gradually save up.
Here’s a comparison between two different bettors to show how much more one can capitalize on their edge with larger bets:
Both Jim and Rob win 53% of their wagers at -110 odds.
A 52.4% win rate breaks even at these odds.
Jim and Rob both win 53% of the time (0.6% edge over bookies).
Rob only places $50 bets.
50 x 0.006 = $0.30 profit per wager.
In contrast, Jim bets $500 on average.
500 x 0.006 = $3 profit per wager.
A $3 average profit isn’t enough to launch a full-time gambling career. But Jim can definitely rack up some nice winnings with higher volume. Rob, on the other hand, can only treat betting at a glorified hobby with his meager profits.
A big bankroll only goes so far if you don’t have the discipline to match it. You should develop a strong bankroll management plan before really diving into gambling.
Your plan should include a set bankroll amount, how/when you’ll add more funds, and what bet size to make. Here’s an example:
You set aside $2,000 for betting purposes.
You choose to place $20 wagers to start.
2,000 / 20 = 100 units
You add $200 to your bankroll each month.
Learn About Arbitrage Betting and Other Tricks
You don’t always have to handicap your way toward success. Many successful gamblers also use various tricks to boost their profits.
Arbitrage betting is one of the most popular ways to book winnings. It involves looking for situations where you can lock in a guaranteed profit by wagering on the same odds at two sportsbooks.
Capitalizing on steam moves is another way to win more often. The goal is to spot signs of a steam move before a lagging bookmaker makes the necessary adjustment. Then, you jump on the odds before the sportsbook moves them in conjunction with the industry.
The Odds of Becoming an Esports Betting Pro
Nobody has produced research on how many esports betting pros exist. In fact, nobody has really done this for traditional sports betting either.
However, estimates suggest that only 1 in 20 bettors are profitable. “Profitable” is the key term here.
The odds of actually making enough through esports gambling to live off of are much lower. Out of the 5% that wins money with esports wagering, I estimate that only 1% of these gamblers are paying the bills with winnings.
Continuing off these numbers, just 1 in 2,000 bettors are true professionals. The rest are either profiting off a hobby or losing money.
Which Path Should You Pursue?
Again, I don’t have concrete data on the chances of becoming a professional esports gambler. But I assume that the odds are slightly better than what it takes to become a pro gamer.
You must put considerable work into making money with esports gambling. However, you don’t need the same time commitment nor skill level to profit from betting.
The catch, though, is that you’ll need a large bankroll to win significant profits. After all, your win rate will never be great enough to book serious profits with small bets.
For perspective, the average professional better only wins 54% to 55% of their wagers at -110 odds. That said, you need big bets to capitalize on your small edge.
If you can handle the bankroll aspect, then you’ll find betting to be an easier path towards esports profits than actually playing.
You may feel like you stand better chances of becoming an esports pro versus being a professional athlete. After all, you don’t need a 4.4 forty time or 38-inch vertical leap to play video games.
However, the odds of turning pro in gaming are just as bad—if not worse—than becoming a pro athlete.
Esports betting doesn’t offer a great chance of becoming a professional either. But it most likely provides slightly better odds than the pro gaming route.
If you’re starting out as a relative novice in both gaming and gambling, then you should first consider the latter for moneymaking purposes.
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. ...
The information found on Gamblingsites.org is for entertainment purposes only. It is a purely informational website that does not accept wagers of any kind. Although certain pages within Gamblingsites.org feature or promote other online websites where users are able to place wagers, we encourage all visitors to confirm the wagering and/or gambling regulations that are applicable in their local jurisdiction (as gambling laws may vary in different states, countries and provinces).
Gamblingsites.org uses affiliates links from some of the sportsbooks/casinos it promotes and reviews, and we may receive compensation from those particular sportsbooks/casinos in certain circumstances. Gamblingsites.org does not promote or endorse any form of wagering or gambling to users under the age of 18. If you believe you have a gambling problem, please visit BeGambleAware or GAMCARE for information and help.