I was sitting in a bar watching football with my girlfriend the other night when something profound hit me. It wasn’t my girlfriend that hit me, even if she is pretty profound (she made me write this). Anyway, back to the “profound” part. It dawned on me that most of us spend the majority of our adult lives working to make other people richer. All across the world, the average individual crawls out of bed almost every morning, in sun, rain, or snow, often traveling long distances to the office or workplace. While some enjoy their jobs and the life their salary affords them, others can’t help but feel there is something else.

If these guys and girls only had an invention that would change the world or the winning lottery ticket, things would change. For others, there is a real way to make money that is somewhat more obvious: professional gambling. Now, not everyone has even the remotest interest in gambling. For those that enjoy betting – and seem to be good at it – the sky is the limit, or so it might seem sometimes.

The life of a professional gambler is often portrayed as glamorous in movies and on TV. The images projected at us are of penthouse apartments, yachts, models, flashy clothes, and bling that makes the heart sing. More than anything, the idea is that a professional gambler can make enough money to buy their freedom. With enough zeros in the bank, they will never have to work again.

Who wouldn’t want all of that? I think you already know the answer. However, is the road paved with fool’s gold, or is there a chance for everyone to get a piece of pie?

How Do I Become a Professional Gambler?

Becoming a professional gambler doesn’t come with an ultimate manual. While there are gamblers who have written several books on how to turn a betting interest into a business opportunity, most of these are a little obvious and lack the true “secrets” of their success. That doesn’t stop thousands of hopeful individuals from throwing their money away on hardbacks and guides that lack the real reasons why the author is filthy rich.

While colleges and universities advertise degrees in gambling, there is no club or membership to join, regardless of what you might have heard. There are no unions or guilds. In other words, in professional gambling, it is truly every man (or woman) for themselves. When it comes down to it, you are running your own business, as crazy as that may sound.

Treating Gambling as a Business

If you are truly serious about becoming a professional gambler, you must first treat it as a job. Okay, I know this may sound a little counterproductive – seeing as you want to escape ever having to work again – but you do need to put the work in. That should be as clear as the sky is blue. If you aren’t working, you will not make any money gambling. There is so much involved in pro gambling that it takes an astute mind to succeed.

Of course, every business needs capital to run. You will need money to get you up and running. Your winnings will more than often be proportionate to the amount you stake, so the chances of you making serious cash depend on what you have to wager. There is no agreed-upon amount needed to become a professional gambler, but if you are making $2 here and $7 there, you should really stick to your day job.

The onus is on you to figure out if you could make a career out of gambling. If you are winning large enough amounts of cash to sustain a comfortable lifestyle, there is a chance that professional gambling could be for you. Yes, a chance. Even if you are winning a lot of cash, do you have money to feed yourself if everything goes wrong? Can you afford to pay your mortgage or rent on a bad week?

Of course, being a professional gambler takes more than just having cash lying around to make bets with. You will need to develop a number of mental attributes and skills in order to succeed in the world of pro gambling.

What Attributes Does a Pro Gambler Require?

If you really want to cut it in the world of professional gambling, you will need to hone many skills over the course of your career. Without attributes such as the ones I have listed below, you will find it hard to do this for a living. Just remember that even the most battle-hardened and successful gamblers had to start from the bottom and work their way up, so don’t be discouraged.

Among the most important skills and attributes required to be a professional gambler are:

  • Organizational and research skills
  • Composure and concentration
  • Confidence
  • Patience
  • An eye for opportunism
  • Data analysis and conversion skills
  • Financial aptitude
  • Self-control
  • Mental fortitude
  • Time management
  • Money management skills

The list of skills required to cut it in the big leagues, so to speak, is exhaustive. The points above should be, at very least, skills that are learned and not taken for granted. Gambling can be a very emotional and exhausting practice, so keeping yourself composed and measured at all times is important. Losing composure or allowing losses to break your confidence can be detrimental to your success.

While you may think you possess many of these skills, try imagining how composed and confident you would be with $200,000 riding on a game where the opposition gets a penalty in the final minutes to potentially win the game. How about confidence? Perhaps you are betting on your fifth or sixth game in a day and need to make last-minute bets to ease your exposure, yet you are practically falling asleep at the computer.

These are the skills you need. You can’t buy them or steal them. They must be developed.

Professional Sports Betting

If you really want to make serious money, most gamblers will tell you that sports betting is the way forward. That being said, many of the most successful gamblers of all time made their fortunes on sports betting and at the casino. For the most part, it is sports betting which will afford a novice gambler the best opportunities for making money. In order to succeed in sports betting, you must understand the sport you are betting on. This sounds like common sense, but you would be surprised at the number of gamblers who bet on sports that they have no idea about. Quite often, they lose.

For the most part, horse racing has been where the elite gamblers on the planet make most of their money. I will cover who these gamblers are a little later. Although there is massive money to be made in horse racing, it is a sport which is notoriously difficult to find success in as a gambler. Many favorites fail to win races, and underdogs and unfancied horses can come from nowhere to shatter your dreams and take your coin.

On a personal level, I believe that there is a lot of money to be made in football and soccer. What it all comes down to is having an eye for undervalued bets. In other words, if you can identify great odds for a team that should be anything but, then this is the type of opportunity you should be hoping for every time you place a bet.

With things like vig, the 50/50 you would expect on the flip of a coin, for example, is removed. Therefore, finding even the smallest margin of advantage – and taking odds which bookmakers are really making a mistake in offering – is crucial. This is where an astute gambler and confident person can put their money down and make some serious money.

Professional Casino Betting

In all my years of covering gambling and writing about casino games, I have yet to come across an elite gambler who plays games like slots or roulette. The reason why many gamblers shun these games, in particular, is that they come with high house edges, which means that a casino will always have the advantage when it comes to playing. A smart gambler either wants the casino’s advantage as minimal as possible or in their favor.

Ideally, that is. There are certain games where the house edge is low enough to be considered a decent bet. Games like baccarat and video poker are among the popular choices for many gamblers. However, it is blackjack where most serious professionals tend to pay their attention. As I will cover below, many of the most successful gamblers of all time gravitated to this game.

You can always get lucky playing jackpot slots, Caribbean Stud, or any other game where there is a chance for a big payout. Most of the time, the house edge is so significant that you will wind up losing. Potentially a lot, too. Blackjack has a low enough house edge to afford many smart players – especially card counting experts – the room to take advantage of the casino. Well, at least card counters used to be able to.

These days, casino practices have changed in order to minimize the risk they take by hosting games. Any player who walks in could be cleaning them out by card counting or using any other method deemed unlawful to their personal standards and practices. To combat this, there are usually several decks and shoes, with professionals watching every player closely and kicking many out of the casino if they win over a certain amount.

It is very difficult these days to clean up at the casino. Even online casinos are wise to the use of technology like bots and hacking methods used to change the performance of random number generators (RNGs), for example.


This can be a divisive subject. Your bankroll really does depend on your ambitions and goals and what you can reasonably afford to lose. Remember, a professional gambler can walk away once they have gone through their bankroll. Using credit cards, personal loans, or compromising your livelihood in order to chase losses will see you in a pretty bad position once all is said and done.

However, there are certain things that you should be taking into account when setting your bankroll. You must decide on a figure that represents the point when you cash out. Greed is one of the ultimate downfalls of any novice or compulsive gambler, so playing smart and conducting yourself appropriately is essential. Another thing which you must learn is money management. Sharpen up those math skills, too.

Many professional casino gamblers will set units on their bankroll. For example, a unit should be 1% of the total amount to be wagered. If your bankroll is $10,000, and 1% of $10,000 is $100, $100 is one unit. If you take $10,000 to numerous $5 games of video poker, you’re not doing it right. In order to win enough money to realize your goals and earn enough to keep you playing, it must make sense.

Once again, math will be extremely beneficial if you are hoping to undertake a career in professional gambling. I would go as far as to say that, if your mathematics skills are non-existent, do not spend a single cent until you have brushed up on them. If you do not understand math to a good standard, you might be better off looking for something else to do with your money. Like origami…

So How Much Money Can You Make?

Quite simply, it depends on a number of factors. How much you have to bet, how good you are at turning a profit, and a number of other skills and attributes. The most successful gamblers of all time will almost certainly argue that luck – perhaps the most important thing a novice gambler requires to win – is not included in their repertoire of talents.

While it can be easy to admire that one friend of yours who appears to have a natural gift for gambling on the NFL, the true stars of gambling are in a different universe altogether. If the question is “how much can I make?” it is hard to deny that some have made billions from scratch. For example, let’s take a look at some of the most famous and successful gamblers to have ever lived, including the legendary Billy Walters and Alan Woods.

Zeljko Ranogajec

Zeljko Ranogajec GamblerIf there is one thing you would have in mind, other than money, when it comes to the life of a professional gambler, it would be fame. Living a life of opulence usually does, unless your name is Zeljko Ranogajec. The Australian son of Croatian immigrants is perhaps the most enigmatic figure in professional gambling, preferring a life of obscurity and privacy rather than fame and high society.

Ranogajec is the perfect example of how some gamblers are just born to be professionals. According to numerous reports on the Australian, he started his gambling career as a young blackjack card counter, making millions of dollars despite only bringing hundreds to the tables. With a photographic memory and understanding of complex math, this human computer would go on to be banned from every casino in Australia.

Ranogajec then turned to horse racing and reportedly made billions of dollars in the process. No one is certain just how much the Australian is worth. His reluctance to agree to interviews or provide any information on his practices whatsoever makes him a mysterious character, to say the least. Ranogajec is reportedly a multi-billionaire as a result of his wildly-successful gambling career.

Billy Walters

Billy Walters GamblerDespite coming from very modest beginnings, Billy Walters is worth an estimated $200-$300 million today. Having been born to a teenage mother who would die when Walters was just 12 years old, the Kentucky native went on to enjoy one of the most spectacular careers in sports betting. He is believed to have placed the highest-ever bet in sports betting history at an astounding $3.5 million. Pocket change, right?

Walters was an incredibly astute and analytical gambler who had run an illegal betting operation in Kentucky before he was busted. Not long after, he moved to Las Vegas and hooked up with Dr. Ivan Mindlin and Michael Kent of the world-famous Computer Group. The technology developed by Kent – who developed nuclear submarine technology as a mathematician – would help propel Walters into a life of fortune.

With analytical data and advanced mathematics on his side, Walters developed a gambling syndicate which took Vegas bookmakers to the cleaners. When bookmakers refused to take his bets, Walters had a number of “runners” tasked with placing bets on his behalf.

The money he made was astronomical and afforded him many luxuries, including a private jet, a fleet of cars, seven houses, and an income close to $15 million per year. Walters was jailed for 5 years in 2017 for an insider trading fiasco which saw pro golfer Phil Mickelson allegedly involved in some pretty questionable activity.

Alan Woods

Alan Woods GamblerThe most influential and successful sports bettor of all time has to be the late Alan Woods. The Australian mathematician was a genius who made over $490 million throughout his illustrious career, mostly on horse racing. Woods then developed pioneering software which took things to a whole new level, before his death from appendix cancer in 2008.

As a youngster, Woods was a master of card counting in blackjack. He left Australia in the 1980s to move to Hong Kong, where he would partner with Bill Benter to create a horse racing syndicate which was the most successful of all time. The software they initially developed factored in numerous things such as form, the terrain, and the weather to predict the outcome of races.

Woods would then move to the Philippines later in his life, forming new partnerships and making a fortune that would make even the most unimpressionable weep with jealousy. There is no doubt that Alan Woods redefined what it meant to be a professional gambler and showed the world what it took to be successful in this most precious of fields.

So, I Can Make Billions Gambling Professionally?

Technically, it can be done, as these three pioneers above have shown. The likelihood of ever coming close to the exploits and achievements of Ranogajec, Walters, or Woods is, as you would appreciate, unlikely. I do believe that anything is possible, and the next gambling colossus could be reading this right now, but it does also pay to be realistic.

What these three men had in common was a natural aptitude for math, among other things. They also had software which was relatively unknown to bookmakers at the time. This would have given them a great advantage over oddsmakers and a surefire way to capitalize on any nuts and bolts which were not tightened at the time.

Important Note

The counter-argument is that a lot of other gamblers would have also had leading technology but would come nowhere near to replicating the success of these guys and other legendary gamblers. For this reason, I am personally inclined to believe that some just have a gift, in addition to the mental attributes which are so important for gamblers to own.

However, every gambler must start somewhere. While card counting and pioneering technology may not be as doable or as significant as it was at the time when many leading gamblers made their money, this should not deter anyone from pursuing a career in professional gambling. Once the skill levels are right, you can afford to lose what you wager, and you are turning significant and consistent profit, there is hope.

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