Today, we have a guest post from Paul Whelan of Skybluekangaroo
You Need These Three Things To Be A Professional Gambler
Professional gambler. Pro punter. Full-time bettor.
What images do these words bring about in your mind’s eye?
Is it the cool, calculating card shark, sat at the poker table in some Las Vegas casino (Phil Ivey, perhaps?) taking down pot after pot from the gullible high-rollers.
Or do you imagine the shrewd ‘face’ at the race course, stepping out from the crowd in the betting ring, unfurling a sizeable wad of fifty pound notes, and handing them to the wizened bookmaker – “A grand to eight grand on Lucky Lucy.”
Are professional gamblers a bunch of fairies?
Many think that, just like fairies at the end of the garden, professional gamblers don’t exist. They’re merely figments of our imagination – shady characters from books and films. Maybe they were invented by bookmakers, to give us punters some forlorn hope that it’s possible to win at betting.
So the question is, pro punters, do they actually exist? If they do, what are their secrets? And do you have what it takes to be one?
To answer the first question “do they actually exist?” here’s a few links to more information about some of the more high profile professional gamblers, past and present:
These punters are the exception to the norm. Aside from them, and the big-hitting owner/punters such as John Magnier and Michael Tabor, Derrick Smith, and of course JP McManus, there a very few who make betting pay to the tune of seven figures.
But there are most definitely those who earn what could quite justifiably be described as a decent income from their betting activities. We’re talking the equivalent of an attractive corporate salary.
I know two people personally, for whom I can vouch they make a significant part of their overall income from betting.
The first, MR, lives only a few miles from me, and I met him nearly ten years ago, spectating on the gallops of trainer Peter Harris (now retired) down the road from me in Tring.
I like to refer to MR as the Stephen Fry of horse racing, such is his encyclopaedic knowledge of the sport. And back in 2004 he was making £70-80k a year from it. How? With a system for betting in-running, and the help of a trusted right-hand man.
Basically, he was exploiting the time difference between the actual live action at the course, and the so-called ‘live’ TV coverage broadcast by the likes of RUK, ATR, and SiS.
His advantage? Well, would you bet on a photo finish if the result had already been called? Would you like to bet on a horse who had quickly burst three lengths clear from the pack at the furlong pole? Would you lay a horse that you had already seen fall?
There’s still a number of people who practise this on-course strategy. I do know MR has scaled his efforts right down in recent years, and nowadays he tends to be more distracted by his thriving corporate entertainments business.
The other pro gambler I know bets on most sports, but his area of expertise lies in athletics. More about him another day.
So professional gamblers do exist. It is indeed possible to derive an income from betting. But what sets this breed apart? What is it that separates ‘them’ from ‘us’? What do ‘they’ know that that ‘we’ don’t know?
I suggest instead the question we should be asking, is what do ‘they’ do, that ‘we’ do not?
Time and Effort
To a man (I’ve yet to come across any evidence, documented or anecdotal, of the fairer sex making a career from betting) every one of these guys is committed to their “business”.
They’re prepared to commit to the long hours, often burning the midnight oil and doing their own homework in pursuit of those profitable betting opportunities.
You’re never going to optimize your success by simply following someone else’s tips. For sure, you can improve on your own performance, and maybe even make some reasonable pocket money, by subscribing to a tipster service.
But the reality is that by the time you’ve received the bet of the day, along with the other hundreds of members, any value in that selection has already gone (probably creamed off the top by the tipster for himself if he’s any good).
The best you can hope for is that the odds haven’t shortened too much, as any shrinkage can mean the difference between an ‘advised price’ profit, and a ‘generally available price’ loss. (Editor’s Note: Paul and I don’t agree on everything!!)
Professional punters do have sources of information. They will avail themselves of inside knowledge from stables, and they do take advice from a select few into consideration.
But ultimately a professional gambler lives and dies by his own decisions. They spend hours and hours each day (and then a few more hours in the evening for good measure) analyzing form, statistics, and other factors — not just pertaining to their fancied horse, but every horse in the race.
They’ll be watching videos, swatting up on trainer comments, confirming jockey bookings, weather forecasts, the going, the draw, distance, track configuration, class, you name it. No stone unturned.
To be a professional gambler requires a work ethic. Hard work and commitment. No if’s or but’s, and no shortcuts.
But if you are willing to make the sacrifices of time and effort, the good news is that you can make money from betting.
The second personality trait you’ll find all professional gamblers possess, is discipline. I’ve polled SkyBlueKangaroo readers a number of times, and discipline (or lack of) is always cited as the number one Achilles Heel of wannabe winning punters.
Given the order and regimentation of our everyday lives, especially in our professional lives at work, I think it’s only human nature that we tend to show less restraint in our recreational activities. And by and large, betting is a recreational pastime for most of us.
But if we want to achieve ‘day-job’ returns from our betting, then we need to exercise a little more of that ‘day-job’ discipline.
Does that mean our betting should cease to be fun? Absolutely not! For sure, your more likely to see improved results if you can get half-way serious about your betting — betting with a gun to your head is a turn of phrase I’ve often used in the past. But ultimately we’re entitled to view our betting as fun – at least for the most part.
And besides, it’s always a little easier to enjoy something if it’s providing financial rewards.
Winning money is always fun.
One thing hopefully we can all agree upon, is that by contrast losing is no fun. Which is why developing your mindset is the foundation upon which you can (and should) build your betting skills. Understanding your strengths and weaknesses, being honest with yourself, keeping detailed records, humility, confidence, and attention to detail are all fundamental.
Here’s a few more articles written about ‘discipline’ in the context of betting:
Keep your eye on the proverbial road ahead, and always stick to your original game-plan. Having researched a strategy with an edge over the market, or an angle for your selections, you need to have the discipline to resolutely exploit your advantage. Even in the face of a prolonged losing spell.
The third and final personality trait of a professional gambler, you might call your betting bank — or your bankroll — but importantly the management of it.
As punters we all have varying views. Betting couldn’t exist without disparity and opposing views. But sometimes we’ll have a strong view about a bet, and other times our conviction will be, well, less strong.
In other words, not all betting opportunities are created equal. And the professional punter has learned first to develop his judgement, and then trust the strength of that opinion.
His financial involvement with a bet will follow in direct proportion to that judgement call.
Winning and losing runs come and go, but they need to be managed. In his book Enemy Number One Patrick Veitch talks about once losing £400,000. MR has told me of numerous ups and downs, and its the same for the other pro punter I know. That. Is. The. Game.
The test of a successful gambler is money management, and that goes hand-in-hand with mindset management.
These guys increase their stakes as their bankroll grows. They see it as equally important to both minimise their losses, as well as optimise their winnings.
They make very few irrational bets, or ‘bad bets’. Don’t get me wrong, professional gamblers back losers, just like you and me. But backing a horse that goes on to lose doesn’t necessarily make it a bad bet.
If the calculated true odds about a 6/1 chance are actually 3/1, then that horse will still only win one time in four.
But if you consistently back horses at odds higher than their true chance, then you can be confident you’re making good bets, you’ll get overpaid on your winning bets, and you’re bound to come out ahead in the long run.
By contrast, a bad bet will not be under-pinned by any logic, or that logic is given too much significance; or perhaps some late information has not been factored in – how the horse looked and behaved in the paddock, or how it went to post, or a change in the going.
We’ve explored the topic of money management at SkyBlueKangaroo on many occasions over the years. Here’s some of the more popular posts:
A professional gambler will have the discipline to invest five hours study in a race, plan to make a significant financial investment in that race, with a positive expectation of a profit in return, but walk away from the bet if something fundamental changes in the minutes leading up to the race. Could you?
Work + Discipline + Money Management = Pro-Gambler
It’s no exaggeration, but if you can adopt these three core principles into your daily betting approach, then you’ll elevate yourself above the vast majority of punters. You’ll likely return better results, even compared to those who are arguably better judges of form than you.
And you’ll be far better positioned than most to consider the idea of becoming a professional gambler.
That said, you may possess these attributes in spades, and a betting bank equal to the GDP of Venezuela; but if you don’t have a technical advantage, an edge over the market, it will still all amount to a steady loss.
And on that bomb-shell…
Paul Whelan is the writer and editor at SkyBlueKangaroo.com. “I’m a horse racing and betting systems fan, a cyclist, and hopelessly addicted to caffeine.”