Being a Professional Gambler

Right now I am only listing the downside to being a professional gambler. I may add more later.

The downside to being a professional gambler

  • Financial risk - This is an obvious one. You can lose all of your money. Enough said.

  • Social disapproval - There will be plenty of people who scoff at the fact that you are a gambler for a living. When those people are random people who you don't care about, it is simply annoying. But when those people are friends or family members, things can get complicated.

  • Stress - Being a professional gambler can be a grind - both emotionally and sometimes, physically. Professional poker tournament players can sit 16 hours per day at the table for a week straight. Emotionally, the ups and downs of your bankroll can grind on anyone over time - even if you know with 100% certainty that you have +EV on your side in the long-run.

    Although professional gamblers have the reputation of constantly riding highs and lows, one of the risks of being a professional gambler, ironically, is pathological boredom. The way that someone becomes a successful gambler is that they discover a mathematically valid strategy and repeat that strategy as much as possible. Whether it is playing limit poker or blackjack, this can become extremely boring over the course of years. This may seem like a relatively benign affliction (and, admittedly, it is compared to the other risks), it is still a large enough risk factor that motivates most professional gamblers to quit gambling for a living after about 3-5 years. Most successful gamblers, after making 6-figures for many years in a row, always seem to get to a point where they are "moving on" to something "bigger and better".

  • Taxes - Any gambler that has gambled full-time usually runs into this roadblock after his/her first good year. They find out that gambling laws can get somewhat complicated when it comes to issues such as what expenses they can deduct, etc. Finding a tax professional that specializes in gambling taxation can take a bit of time too. This complexity can be a pain in the ass.

    The other side to gambling taxes is that many profitable gamblers may not pay taxes on their winnings if their winnings are small. Although these small winnings are taxable, and should be reported, they frequently are not reported if the gambler knows that the winnings are not traceable (due to the IRS not being notified of the winnings). Eventually though, a profitable gambler who transitions into being a professional gambler will realize that their larger and larger winnings will be documented in bank accounts - so they start paying taxes. But, many times, they may have already spent the money they owe on past winnings - or, at the very least, are disappointed that some of their winnings are being "taken away" (for lack of a better phrase).

  • Addiction risk - Being a professional who operates within a highly addictive environment like a casino is a notable risk factor. These addictive tendencies don't always manifest themselves in the obvious ways. For instance, a professional poker player who is able to completely manage their risk at the poker table may have absolutely no self-control at the craps table.

  • Difficulty - Gambling for a living is simply harder to do successfully than working at a job where people tell you what to do. Gambling for a living involves a tremendous amount of self-motivation with regard to learning. Almost all professional gamblers learned everything on their own, even if they employed resources (such as books) as part of their learning process.

  • Geographic restriction - You may need to live in Las Vegas or Atlantic City to be where the liquidity is. With online gambling becoming popular over the past decade, this may be less of a concern.

  • Lifestyle - The lifestyle can be difficult sometimes with regard to basic life habits. You may be eating very unhealthy because you need to eat at the tables at the casino, or in front of your monitor at home. When it comes to living, you may need to live in hotels in Vegas or Atlantic City in order to have easy access to the casinos (you also wouldn't want to waste any comped rooms). The living conditions have been vastly improved since online gambling has risen in popularity.


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HPG ADMIN on January 1, 2014