Making a living betting on sports may seem like the ideal profession for avid sports betting enthusiasts. However, if it was easy, many bookies would go out of business. In this article, we will explore the advantages of earning income as a professional gambler while also shedding light on the potential drawbacks.

There are certain practices for becoming a professional sports bettor that are non-negotiable, three of which we consider to be the most important:

  1. 1.

    Discipline: Discipline is key. It’s a minimum requirement, regardless of the type of betting and your chosen sport.

  2. 2.

    Learning: Gathering information and educating yourself is paramount when you make this lifestyle choice. You are competing with bookies and other individuals who have made betting on sports their job.

  3. 3.

    Patience: Learning, practising and then betting within a plan requires patience, so continue with this guide to give yourself the best chance of being a successful professional gambler.

With these steps in mind, we recommend using the following sportsbooks to place your bets.

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    Unlike betting for fun, professional sports betting is an occupation that is designed to provide an individual with their main source of income.

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    It is a job that entails certain skills and requirements that are not suited to every sports bettor's personality or lifestyle.

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    In effect, a pro gambler is independent, so they must apply these skills to be commercially viable. In many professions, there are qualifying conditions that are set in stone. An accountant, lawyer, or doctor must study for many years and pass professional exams. There are trade bodies and societies that offer support and advice. However, as a pro gambler, you are very much on your own, and you don’t require a license to be in practice in this sector.

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    There are many sports to bet on professionally and various types of gambling. Professional sports betting is about being selective but gathering information about your sport and betting type. It is very much a numbers game with small margins, which is why a major factor in success is eliminating avoidable errors but very quickly learning from mistakes.

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    You require the discipline of other professions, and there is very little room for error. Strategy and money management are vital in this area of work. You are up against the house edge, which means you are at a disadvantage to the bookie. Therefore, achieving success in this profession necessitates both experience and continual dedication to ongoing learning.

While most people gamble for fun, being a professional gambler involves thinking in terms of business. For one, once your gambling profits pass a certain threshold, this will need to be reported as part of your tax return to the IRS as “other income”.

As with any other form of business, there are risks, and a few profitable streaks are no assurance against the likelihood of dry spells. While some professional gamblers treat their pursuit as a full-time job, others balance it with day jobs – and balancing the two can bring a whole new set of stresses.

Professional betting does have a reputation for providing a glamorous lifestyle, but the reality can be different. The rewards are not guaranteed, and there are steps to be taken to becoming a pro sports gambler. Let's take a look at the most important steps described below:

1. Lifestyle Decision

Embarking on a career in professional sports betting is a lifestyle decision. You are self-employed, and there is no regular paycheck at the end of the month.

Many years ago, a study in the UK revealed that only about 3% of sports bettors consistently make money over a sustained period of time. Professional gambling is one of the hardest jobs in the world, so it takes a certain mentality to deal with that lack of a secure income. Going freelance is tough in any profession, but sports betting, in particular, has special demands.

You must be certain that the job is suited to your lifestyle, including living arrangements and whether you are also providing for a family. You can choose your hours but bear in mind that many sporting events take place at the weekend or in the evening. Anti-social hours are therefore part of the deal, and your lifestyle has to be compatible.

2. Total Commitment

In professional sports gambling, there has to be total commitment to the job and no compromising with the plan. Bookies do take winning bets, but you must take all the necessary steps to earn your share of the payouts. You must also accept that luck can play a part.

You must be 100% committed to being one of the few gamblers that beat the bookie, and this takes dedication, discipline, and the mentality to stay calm after a losing run. There are many pitfalls and common errors, but you can control the level of commitment you put into the job. It’s no good taking up this profession with half measures.

3. Prepare for the Pitfalls

Gambling on sports is fickle, and there is no guarantee of a regular and consistent income. There will be spells when you seem untouchable and can’t do anything wrong. However, losing streaks are part of the job, and they can last for days. There will be many highs and lows, but if you can make money over a significant period of time but be aware of the pitfalls, professional sports betting could be right for you. You need the mental strength to deal with the good and bad runs in the right way.

4. Learn and Study

Learning how to be a professional gambler is a continuous process. Decisions must become instinctive, and that can be achieved by drilling down on what you know. In effect, the aim is to beat the system and the bookies’ built-in profit margin. Learning strategies and systems are always evolving, and the best pro gamblers are ahead of the game.

However, a good pro bettor understands the technical elements of the different types of bets. There are singles, parlays, and system bets, so you must be aware of all the possibilities. There is specific terminology and Terms & Conditions that are part of the job. In effect, you must know your sport inside out, and that comes from the ongoing study of the nuances.

5. Ignore Emotions

An emotional sports bettor is probably not a successful one — you have to make hard business decisions based on commerciality and not emotion. It is a fine example of the head having to rule the heart. Every decision has to be made in line with a plan that is designed and modified to win the numbers game with a sportsbook.

Most sports bettors will probably have favorite teams. Fandom is about emotion, so it’s probably a good idea to avoid betting on games involving your teams. We also suggest taking a break from sports betting if you are feeling tired, stressed, and under the influence of something else, as you need 100% concentration with no emotions getting in the way.

6. Types of Betting

There are various forms of betting, and it's advisable to focus on just one. Gaining experience in one area is not easy, so you should specialize in one of the following types of betting:

Fixed Odds

Fixed odds are the traditional form of betting, as you place a bet and let it run. The bet is on an outcome of a game for which bookies quote odds. There are some pro gamblers who focus on backing favorites, and others who like to bet on the underdog. With favorites, you require a high strike rate as the payout odds are low.

Matched Betting

Matched betting takes advantage of welcome bonuses that come in the form of free bets. Gamblers place counter bets to claim the free bets. There is no financial risk even though any winnings from a free bet do not include the stake. However, you can only claim a welcome bonus with a sportsbook once, so there are limited opportunities.

Arbitrage Betting

Arbitrage betting is a process whereby you take advantage of price differences for the same outcome. If you find an arb, there is a guaranteed profit, but the window of opportunity is small. Arbs soon disappear as the market reacts, which means timing is everything, and you must keep records of the bets as the margins are very small.

7. Choose Your Sport

A typical sportsbook allows you to bet on about 20 sports across pre-game, in-play, and futures markets. You can’t keep abreast of the form in so many sports, so you need to be selective.

Every US-facing sportsbook offers odds on the NFL, NHL, MLB, NBA, and college leagues. Other popular betting sports include soccer and tennis, and there is a wide variety of games.

You can select your betting sport and even focus on one type of bet.

Some online sportsbooks have a dedicated horse racing lobby featuring thoroughbred racing. There are meetings from the US and overseas fixtures and international horse races. Specialize in one area or type of race to maximize potential wins.

There is also a range of special bets and novelty markets that can provide a niche. For example, you could focus on politics, TV & entertainment, and esports. One proviso is that bookies may limit stakes and restrict you from betting in these areas if you win consistently.

8. Accept Luck Can Play a Part

You can have all the best strategies and study the key statistics; however, you have to accept that luck can play a part. A horse may not have any luck in running, and there can be freakish play in sports. Things are not always logical, so you must accept the vagaries of fate as in any other job. Nevertheless, you need the discipline and bankroll to ride out a storm, as nobody can predict the future.

Betting professionally as a pro can be a lonely job. There are no colleagues to consult about an idea. Self-motivation is important, as there is no line manager for direction and support. Therefore, it is important to investigate resources for professional sports betting.

The following options can help you become a more successful pro gambler:

Online Guides

There are many online guides to becoming a professional sports bettor, some of which are free of charge whereas others require a subscription. They can be useful in describing the steps to beginning work in pro gambling. Online guides also provide tips and document the pros and cons of betting on sports for a living. Worked examples are a good element of online resources.

Training Courses

Professional sports betting training courses can be found online, or you can attend a course in person. The instructions are often well-organized and present a logical progression from embarking on the work to achieving financial goals. Courses will provide practical examples and tests that do not involve risking any money.

Specialist Software

There are a number of specialist software providers which focus on one area of sports betting. For example, you can buy software that highlights the matched betting opportunities and provides detailed instructions to take advantage of free bets. Some software will also highlight the existing arbs, but they soon close.

Blogs and Forums

Professional sports betting is usually an individual pursuit — typically in an office at home, which can be isolating. Blogs and forums offer a platform for the exchange of ideas and strategies, serving as a valuable sounding board when you are considering a system. However, they are not tipping services but can confirm — or not confirm — gambling thought processes.

Mainstream Media

The mainstream media can provide a good source of information. You can watch game previews and keep up to date with injuries and suspensions. Preview shows will often highlight key statistical trends, but again, taking tips from this resource should be avoided. However, you can glean information to help with your betting decisions.

Observe Winning Pro Gamblers

There are highly successful professional sports bettors and others who make a modest living. Try to research the attributes of winning sports bettors as best you can; while they may not reveal their secrets, you can observe how they go about their business. Conversely, identify the traits that come with an unsuccessful pro gambler career and adopt this approach as part of your learning process.

We now present some important pro gambler tips that you can adopt into your sports betting:

Good Bankroll Management

Managing your betting bank is paramount. This involves a staking strategy that maximizes the earnings from good runs and minimizes the losses from poor runs.

You should set a budget and have a definite plan for staking in line with your current performance. You can adopt a fixed stake strategy or compounding stakes that involve risking a fixed percentage of your bank.

Look to the Future

You may not see a betting opportunity in a game, but you can gather information about future bets.

For example, in a horse race, a horse may have no luck in running and not achieve a place the form justifies. You can take note and consider backing the horse at the right odds in the future.

In other sports, take note of the draft and measure improvements in team rosters.


There is a vast amount of online betting opportunities across sports, leagues, and games. It is impossible to keep up to date with games and team news, so you should specialize.

Your chosen niche area could be graded thoroughbred horse races or games in the NFL or college football. You could also focus on one type of bet, such as moneyline, spreads, or totals.

Bet Within Your Means

It is vital to keep emotions in check by betting within your means. Don’t gamble with money that you should use to pay bills.

It’s a good idea to use a separate bank account for your betting transactions. However, you should set loss limits and never deviate from the plan — it can be too stressful and damaging to gamble with money you cannot afford to lose.

Don’t Expect Overnight Success

Profitable sports betting is difficult. The house edge is a huge obstacle, so you must work to small margins.

Success will not be immediate. You must practice and can paper trade your systems and record the success. However, keep in mind that the learning process takes several months and that this is a long-term business decision that will not bring overnight success.

We now present the upsides and downsides to being a pro sports gambler in brief:

Pro Gambler Pros
  • The appeal of making a career out of a hobby
  • High potential earnings and lifestyle rewards
  • Can be a cash business if you bet at retail locations
  • Legal and online sportsbooks in many states
  • Freedom of betting at hours that suit your living arrangements
  • It’s not always a grind and does hold some kudos
  • Satisfaction of betting the sportsbook
  • Winnings are taxed when you place the bets
  • The pleasure of watching sports for a living
Pro Gambler Cons
  • The stress of financial insecurity as no guaranteed salary at the end of the month
  • Losing runs can affect confidence
  • Few understand the pressures and may not be sympathetic
  • Grind supersedes big wins
  • Successful bettors will have stakes restricted or accounts closed
  • Massive investment in time
  • The need for research can become a chore
  • The risk of losing a great deal of money

There is no room for shortcuts when it comes to betting for a living. You will need to take time to study the field and ensure that each bet you make is as well-informed as possible; and even then, you can expect to earn a modest salary at best (any multi-millionaire professional gamblers you may have heard about are very much outliers). Money-management must also be taken seriously.

The good news is that there is a host of information and helpful services out there, including in-depth guides, as well as software and online communities of professional gamblers. In this article we have given you a thorough set of pointers to help you get started on your pro-betting journey, but the next step is up to you.

Professional sports bettors are on a journey that begins with gambling for fun and recreation. Semi-pros realize they can profit from sports betting if they are selective and disciplined. However, they generally have another source of income with a paid job. The final step is making a commitment to betting on sports as a full-time profession.

WRITTEN BY Jeremy Sant Fournier View all posts by Jeremy Sant Fournier

If there’s one thing Jeremy loves, it’s sports. A football fanatic at heart, Jeremy can always been found watching, playing or talking about sports. It’s in his blood, and with a keen interest in sports betting, sports writing is a match made in heaven.

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