professional casino gambler
Image source: Flickr

Those are Actors!

Probably the only image of the professional casino gambler that we mere mortals see is something based on a character seen in a movie or on TV. The men are always sharply dressed in black and the women appear in their flowing gowns with a plunging neckline. Everyone is having a ball. Oh…and everyone is always winning. In fact most of the time they are simply crushing the poor casino.

Professional Casino Gambler: What Makes a Pro

Some people use the term professional casino gambler to describe those who make both a part-time and a full time living from gambling. But we tend to think of real pros as those that make their complete living from gaming. In other words, the winnings pay for absolutely everything in their lives. This includes gas for the car, food, clothing, housing, and everything else that results from a monthly expenditure.

Often when a player is experiencing a losing streak, they’ll start to question their skills. The sad reality is that playing Advantage Play is a real downer when things are not going well. Conversely, when you’re on a high when all the cards are falling correctly, then it’s a head rush of emotion. These extremes of ups and downs are really synonymous with the personality disorder known as “manic depressive”. In truth, there are not really that many opportunities to make money by gambling. But luckily there still are some games that can turn a profit.

These are the most common games for professional casino gamblers.

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With this game, you are essentially trying to earn your money from the casino. Back in the day, counting cards could ensure you a good payout every day. But times have changed. In casinos which don’t have automatic shuffling machines to ensure many decks are thoroughly mixed, then the pit bosses will be looking for card counter from the get-go. If you’re caught counting cards, then the casino will back you off. You could be asked to leave the premises. Or banned. Or simply asked to play every shoe at the same set amount.

Though we previously mentioned the difficulty of card counting in the 21st century, it is still possible. But it takes some serious skills. First off you’ll be needing a significant bankroll in order to be able to spread your bets and survive any negative variance. We’re talking of around $20,000 just to get started. Most professional casino gamblers would be taking at least double that into the casino for a session.

Professional Casino Gambler: Factors For Counting Cards

These are the other important factors that’ll decide if the life of a card counter is the life for you:

Skill level – Successful counters have between a 0.5% and 1.5% edge on casinos.
Hands per hour – 50 to 200 depending upon dealer speed & table size.
Bet spreading – Difference between your lowest and highest bet.
Deck penetration – The further into the shoe you get, the more confidence you can bet with.
Counting system – Some systems are more accurate than others.
Game rules – You want the best rules possible in order to lower the standard house edge.
Tips – $5 per hour for the dealer is standard.

The final step is to figure out how many hours you’ll play and convert this into an annual salary.

The key is keeping an accurate count amidst casino distractions and blending in with normal players.

professional casino gambler
Everyone is dreaming about to be a professional casino player


Here you’ll be competing against your fellow players. The casino just takes a relatively small cut from the pie. These games are the newest that offer the professional casino gambler the possibility to make a living. You’ll need to pay an entry fee and then you’ll be playing against other players like yourself. Your goal is to create lineups that score the most points and rank highest in each tournament. The thing about this form of gambling is that there are too few winners. Just 1.3% of all the players get 91% of all earnings. So, though the prizes can be big, it’s a real struggle to get them.

Some big winning examples would be Saahil Sud, who is said to of won over $3 million in profits in a single year. Former poker-pro Aaron Jones switched over to DFS and won a DraftKings contest worth $5 million in early 2016.

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Professional Casino Gambler: Factors Needed to Survive in DFS

Entries per day— Most DFS pros enter several hundred contests every day.
Stakes – Typical entry fees range anywhere from $1 up to $1,000.
Fees— DFS sites tack on a 10% fee to each buy-in, which is where their profits come from.
Skill level— Some pros have a bigger edge than others.
Of course, DFS is chock full of variables, which is why it’s key to have a large enough bankroll to survive the ups and downs.


Here you’ll be in competition with the players sat around the poker table which is what makes the game a viable option for the professional casino gambler. Over time it has become more and more difficult to make a decent living from the game thanks to the prevalence of poker strategies which allow everyone to learn from watching YouTube videos. Having said that, with hard work, study, drive and experience you can still turn a paycheck. If you could look at the earnings of most poker professionals they would show an income of around $40,000 – $100,000 per year. essentially there are two types of a professional poker player: the tournament layer and the cash games player.

Cash Games

Profit measured in big blinds (BB) made per hour.
House takes 5% rake from cash game pots for running games.
More control over annual salary than tournaments.


Profit measured by rate of return (ROI) on buy-ins.
House adds 10% fee to buy ins (e.g. $10 + $1 fee).
Only the top 10-15% of the field makes money.
Tournaments have more variance than cash games.
A cash player must figure out what stakes they must play to make a comfortable living based on BB earned per hour.

professional casino gambler
Tournaments can be extremely rewarding – Image source: Flickr

The main consideration for the tournament professional casino gambler is the buy-in level. This needs to be high enough to make a decent ROI in order to have a comfortable life. Then there’s the decision of whether to spend your time on live games at the casino or playing online. With the latter you can play more hands by playing multiple tables at the same time. In spite of the increased earning potential, most players prefer the more traditional approach of actually taking a seat at a games table.

Sports Betting

Sportsbooks have to create “lines” in an effort to ensure a level playing field for when it comes to betting. They make their money by taking a commission or “Juice” on every bet that’s lost. This is normally around 10%. But the good news is that you don’t need to be making huge consistent wins in order to survive and even prosper. Now, a professional sports better will have a win rate of around 53% – 55%. That might seem like a tough margin. You’d be right, but keep in mind that sports bettors are very good with their self-control over their bankroll. But they also need to make bigger bets than your average Joe, who’s betting on the Sunday game with his mates.

There are sports bettors who have made millions. But, to be realistic, the average salary is between $50,000 and $150,000 per year.

Professional Casino Gambler: Conclusion

Being a professional casino gambler doesn’t get any better than the ones you see in movies. Your average gambler is hustling his way for a living. The skill sets that were once so useful in order to decrease the house edge now no longer function in the way they used to. So, though you might hear all the talk about being your own boss and choosing your own work hours…that doesn’t really apply to the guy sitting at a games table in a casino day and night or in front of the online jackpot sites.

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