Let’s be honest, nobody really dreams of working a dreary nine-to-five job, being a wage slave for all eternity; nobody is passionate about a grey cubicle or endless Zoom meetings. We all long for the high life, the chance to break away from the confines of humdrum society… and if we can get stinking rich in the process, that’s living the dream, baby!
There is a reason some people, like you, are drawn to gambling, and part of that reason is the thrill and excitement, the risk and reward. There’s a chance you could lose, but then again, there’s that sparkling little possibility you could win – and some wins are life-changing. There’s also the love of the game – whether you’re a dedicated online slots player or an old-school poker enthusiast, no one can deny the thrill of hitting that ‘spin’ or ‘deal’.
And then, there are the elite few, those who have chosen gambling as so much more than just a fun pastime with the potential to be life-changing; those who have sat down at the table and thrown their lot in with Lady Luck, risking everything to become a professional gambler.
Whether you occasionally win small amounts or have struck it lucky by winning a mega jackpot, there is still a clear distinction between professional gamblers and amateur players. The vast majority of players count as amateurs, even when they win large amounts of money.
So, what’s the difference?
In most countries, gambling has to be your primary source of income in order for you to be considered a professional gambler. That means, if gambling is what pays your bills, the law may consider you a professional gambler.
Amateur gamblers are people who often have some kind of job and gamble occasionally or regularly. They usually budget a portion of their income towards gambling, and their livelihood is not dependent on the income they generate from wins. This type of gambling is considered entertainment, and therefore any wins you may have are not taxable.
Professional gamblers, on the other hand, may or may not have a full-time job, or engage in other money-generating activities, but their primary source of income is from winnings or other income derived from gambling. It doesn’t matter whether you are a total unknown, playing online slots from home, or a sponsored player hitting the Vegas poker circuit; if your main income is related to gambling, you are considered a professional gambler.
If you’ve ever watched live poker tournaments (or any other live gambling series) on TV or online, you might get the idea that it is an uncrackable circle of elites and that your hopes of being a professional gambler are just pipe dreams. However, you might find those dreams are within reach.
To become a professional gambler, all you need is for your main source of income to be winnings from gambling. Okay, that’s easier said than done, but there are some steps you can follow.
You’re highly unlikely to succeed at making gambling your profession if you aren’t any good at your chosen game or games. You can increase your levels of proficiency by reading game guides and how to’s, watching other players on YouTube, and, of course, by playing the game. Always try to play strategically so that you can learn from your own (and other players’) mistakes. This is where patience pays off – if you are able to take the time and effort to get good while you’re an amateur, you have a much better chance of making it professionally.
Remember what we just said about watching players on YouTube? Those guys are professional gamblers – in other words, they’re making a living by showing other gamblers how to gamble. There are so many more options available to would-be professionals nowadays, that the old-school poker tournament is just one among many. You don’t have to do the brick-and-mortar casino circuit if that doesn’t appeal to you – you can instead do a tour of the various online casinos that offer live blackjack, for example.
We know how much fun it can be to play a variety of games and try your hand at everything. That’s just part of what makes the casino experience so entertaining. However, if you want to play professionally, focus on a core game, maybe two, that you can get very good at. It doesn’t matter if it’s baccarat, roulette, poker or progressive slots, choosing your professional path will help you break in more easily.
The only way to get into professional circles is to play in the right leagues. Some online casinos, for example, offer tournaments online or video games, much like brick-and-mortar ones do. In fact, many licensed land-based casinos regularly offer tournaments that both amateurs and pros can enter. Sign up, participate, and play – online or in house.
This sounds like either a no-brainer or an insult, but it is neither. The only way to realistically be a professional gambler is to make an income that can support your lifestyle, and that means winning money. You’re unlikely to ever receive any of the side benefits, like sponsorships, if you can’t win with some consistency. As we said, a professional gambler is someone whose primary source of income is gambling, which means winning more than you lose.
This is a question only you can answer. Professional gambling is, by its very nature, extremely high risk. If you don’t have another, stable source of income, a big loss could be very difficult to recover from. On the flip side of that casino chip is the potential for a real career built out of doing something you thoroughly enjoy. Weigh up the pros and cons, just like any good player would do before calling, and take the risks that work for you.