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A professional gambler's career is a high-risk business. Industry trends suggest that by 2020 the American gambling industry could be worth $50 billion, making it a lucrative business for all involved -- as long as you win. "New York Times" journalist Andrew Bluth estimates about 700,000 pro gamblers could have their eye on that prize.
Raise the Stakes
The key difference between a hobbyist gambler and a professional gambler is that a pro wins. To win more, professional gamblers must put more money on the line. According to the American Gaming Association only nine percent of casino visitors wager more than $300 in a day. Unless you are about to hit a pick 5 at the race track on a major race like the Kentucky Derby, you must be able to make a significant investment to make a living in this profession. You don't need any specialized education to become a pro gambler, but you do need years of practice and skill calculating the odds and managing your bets in the game you're playing.
The life of a pro gambler offers reward beyond the money won (or lost) at the table. Rewards clubs at casinos offer perks that increase with the more money spent during a period of time, and increase significantly for professional gamblers. The Caesar’s Total Rewards program, for example, offers frequent players access to lounges with drinks and food, complimentary rooms, celebration dinners and periodic perks such as airfare credits and NYE parties. Mlife, the rewards program of 15 properties including The Bellagio and MGM Grand, offers high-rollers access to special tournaments, room upgrades and exclusive event seating. Most pro gamblers can also negotiate a discount on any losses with the casino that's brought them in to gamble, which helps mitigate the inevitable losing streak.
Go On the Road
Pro gamblers need to follow their circuit to have access to the high-level stakes games from which they'll profit. Pro gamblers often also travel to different games and sports events upon which they'll place a bet. They also often travel to regions that provide specific types of games. The American Gaming Association says that Oklahoma is home to the most tribal casinos, Montana has the most card rooms and Oregon is at the forefront of electronic gaming devices. The Las Vegas Strip is often considered the gambling hotspot, but according to the American Gaming Association, Macau has more gross gaming revenue. In the Philippines, a casino complex known as Entertainment City has launched with the goal of becoming the new Las Vegas. As a full-time gambling devotee, any travel to gaming establishments is a tax write off, so save your receipts to file as business expenses.
The World Series of Poker runs a Hall of Fame, circuit events and tournaments, all of which allow a player to achieve rank. Buy-ins for the World Series of Poker range from $1,000 to $111,111 for the One Drop High Rollers No-Limit Hold'em. This is a premiere gambling event, offering one of the rare occasions when a pro can be seen on TV. From snake-eyed sunglasses to glares, the professionals use psychology to gain an edge. In their unique line of work, eccentricity is a pro gambler's tool.
Kate Stepanski has been a professional writer since 2006. Her writing has appeared in media outlets like "The Oakland Tribune," “Mun2," “Not For Tourists," “Burner Magazine” and “San Francisco Bay Guardian." She holds a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing from San Francisco State University.