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How to be a professional gambler
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Farmageddon Offline
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Post: #101
RE: How to be a professional gambler
I played professional poker for about 3 years from '06-'09. I did fairly well and cleared 50-75k a year playing small to medium stakes No Limit Holdem, Limit Holdem, and No Limit Omaha with a few tournaments mixed in. I've played in the WSOP a couple times and also in a few WPT events but I'm no good at tournaments and played them mostly for the fun and travel. I also won a large-ish tournament on Party Poker and played as their representative in St. Petersburg, Russia. They even had a little news story on me and I got to do a press conference at one of the Czar's winter palaces and the crew had me pretend that I had won the palace in a poker game. It was pretty insane.

With all that said, I wouldn't recommend poker as a job to anyone other than the absolute most dedicated players. Firstly, the level of play is now exceedingly higher and more competent than it was when I was serious about the game. When I played professionally, you could have marginal ability and still eek out a decent living off the masses of fish that played. Now even the fish are competent thanks to hand history software that analyzes play and also the coaching sites. There are tons of sites like Leggopoker and CardRunners than make videos of professionals playing explaining how to become a better player. You can literally take someone who has never played before and turn him into an absolutely devastating player in short order.

Most of the players who I know that do really well and are seriously flush in cash don't rely solely on the game as their source of income. They are either sponsored by a site or some casino or teach or coach students or have other sources of income. Gambling for a living is extremely difficult because most people can't handle their losing streaks. And there will be losing streaks, trust me. Everyone has them and it is inescapable. The crazy thing is due to the nature of poker you can actually make the right decision 100% of the time and still have tons of losing sessions. Like when you get it in PF with AA as a 7 to 1 favorite and get felted. This will happens hundreds of times over a span of a month if you are playing the amount of hands necessary to support yourself with the game. This is another factor that most people have a hard time with.

I would recommend Barry Greenstein's book, "Ace On The River" to anyone who is considering becoming a professional gambler. He has an entire section, the best I've read yet, on his thoughts about this very question.

And if you think that you'll just be making 1k a day breezing through winning sessions you are in for a big surprise. The game is awesome and I still love it but it becomes a job like anything else and if you don't treat it like one and take it as serious as a 'real' job, it will bite you in the ass harder than anything you have ever dealt with before.

Those are my basic rambling thoughts on the subject and I probably didn't address some of your questions. If you have anything you would like to ask someone who has done what you are considering doing, shoot me a message.

With all that said, European players are generally very soft and that is who you will be playing mostly online now, so I bet the games are pretty good.
(This post was last modified: 07-29-2011 04:28 PM by Farmageddon.)
07-29-2011 04:23 PM
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Neo Offline
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Post: #102
RE: How to be a professional gambler
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(This post was last modified: 02-06-2016 04:11 PM by Neo.)
07-29-2011 04:51 PM
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Dash Global Offline
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Post: #103
RE: How to be a professional gambler
I am on a 6-7 game losing streak! unfucking believable for someone that has played as much as I have over the last 8 years.

I just dont have the patience like I use to have anymore. I dont get it. Maybe I can regain my mojo with some time off....
07-29-2011 07:53 PM
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Gringo Offline
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Post: #104
RE: How to be a professional gambler
6-7 game losing streak is nothing Dash, what level you playing at?

For a short while I made a living out of gambling, not poker but sports betting and casino bonus hunting. Was nicely profitable but it's stressfull too if you're on a bad run or you actually have less money at the end of the week.
07-30-2011 04:19 AM
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Dash Global Offline
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Post: #105
RE: How to be a professional gambler
(07-30-2011 04:19 AM)Gringo Wrote:  6-7 game losing streak is nothing Dash, what level you playing at?

For a short while I made a living out of gambling, not poker but sports betting and casino bonus hunting. Was nicely profitable but it's stressfull too if you're on a bad run or you actually have less money at the end of the week.


Shiii for me that is unreal. Usually I come out a winner 1/2 or 1/3 of the time. Losing 7 games in a row is just unfathomable.

I play 5-5 nl cash games.
07-30-2011 08:01 AM
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kimleebj Offline
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Post: #106
RE: How to be a professional gambler
(07-30-2011 08:01 AM)Dash Global Wrote:  Usually I come out a winner 1/2 or 1/3 of the time.

Do you mean you usually win two-thirds of your sessions (not one-third)?
07-30-2011 09:37 AM
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Gringo Offline
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Post: #107
RE: How to be a professional gambler
I think he's saying he usually wins one third or two thirds of the time. Either way having a 6 game losing streak at $5 nl isn't disasterous or even anything to worry about. Variation is a bitch.
07-30-2011 05:56 PM
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Dash Global Offline
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Post: #108
RE: How to be a professional gambler
(07-30-2011 09:37 AM)kimleebj Wrote:  
(07-30-2011 08:01 AM)Dash Global Wrote:  Usually I come out a winner 1/2 or 1/3 of the time.

Do you mean you usually win two-thirds of your sessions (not one-third)?

I mean that if I go play 5 cash games i expect to come out a winner on 3 of the nights, at the very least 2 of those nights.

I normally only buy in once. So if I lose two nights in a row im down 200, then third night I will win 400-600 bucks. With 1000 being a great night (only done this about 4 times over the years playing sparingly in 5-5 nl games)
07-30-2011 07:50 PM
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thegmanifesto Offline
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Post: #109
RE: How to be a professional gambler
Full Tilt Poker Accused Of Stealing $440 Million Of Players' Winnings In Giant Ponzi Scheme

Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/full-tilt...z1YVtWw77q

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(This post was last modified: 09-20-2011 12:07 PM by thegmanifesto.)
09-20-2011 12:07 PM
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Life's Good Offline
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Post: #110
RE: How to be a professional gambler
I've read 3 books on Craps and have tried every supposedly failsafe method to "beat" the game. In the end, I stand here to say it is unbeatable and focus your efforts on investing in hard metals or emerging markets. The closest method I found to be even remotely consistently profitable in the game of Craps is to Martingale the Don't Pass. (I know Martingale is set up to lose, Thanks in advance) Find a table with a low table minimum but a high table maximum. (e.g. $5 min bet & $5000 max bet). If you begin with a $5 bet you would have to lose 10 bets in a row ($5, $10, $20, $40, $80, $160, $320, $640, $1280, $2560). To lose ten times in a row is highly improbable but will eventually happen. Also, you are only profiting $5 each win. The odds of winning a Don't Pass bet are a bit less than 50% due to the 7's/11's on the come out roll. Add those numbers up to figure out your buy-in. Let me know how it goes if you try it.
09-21-2011 04:24 PM
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Malcolm Tucker Away
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Post: #111
RE: How to be a professional gambler
This is about a former professional gambler I know who told me about how some real gambling crews work(ed). Personally I don't gamble, but these guys didn't gamble either. In fact they used the term "gambler" as an insult for people who didn't know any better but played anyway. So take it for what it's worth.

I have a close friend who was part of a totally legal advantage player gambling group for the better part of the 2000s. Their specialty was hole carding in blackjack, but they used other strategies to shorten the odds with any game and move them overwhelmingly in their favor for small periods of time and then they'd pounce.

It sounded like a strange little hidden culture of people in Las Vegas with Cal Tech/MIT/Harvard/etc. math degrees who tried to quantify everything: the best were multi-millionaires who only played because they enjoyed the challenge of screwing the casinos and not getting blacklisted. They liked my buddy because he was very intelligent and Asian (as were most of his group), but simultaneously he was extremely extroverted and smoked. Apparently they were all totally-introverted geeks with no people skills and who wouldn't do things like smoke cigarettes because it was a bad health deal oddswise, so it was easier to evade casino security if their members broke those stereotypes in any way. And Asians also love to gamble as a rule, which is one of the stereotypes they regularly exploited to keep playing good games.

He has some seriously funny stories about his life during this period, like being in large groups of scruffy-looking math nerds who'd drop six figures for dinner at some fancy Vegas casino restaurant or club while being surrounded by suited up bewildered regular gamblers who couldn't figure out why the smelly geeks got such differential service and argued about obscure mathematical formulae while drinking $1k per bottle wine, but it basically started by accident when he met an old friend in Vegas who introduced him to the game and financed his learning via something like a $50k or so interest-free stake. After about six months of intensive work my buddy was a fully-engaged member who spent some time making a great deal of money with his crew.

It took a lot of balls, time and effort to learn how to do it properly but the payouts were tremendous. Much of their time was spent going from casino to casino for 12-16 hours a day, six or seven days a week, looking for dealers with weak biomechanics who they could exploit. Once they found one they'd swarm like piranha and make serious money, then they'd track that dealer's schedule while trying to remain inconspicuous to casino security who could ban them at any time, and milk the dealer whenever he or she had a shift. They'd use spotters in other cities like AC or any other place with concentrations of casinos, and then fly into town to track down a reported weak dealer with the spotter either in the crew or getting a cut of the profits. It was a serious business.

The problem was that there were competing crews of advantage players, all of whom eventually met and knew each other - showing up at a certain casino every day and seeing the same people watching games was the tip off - and most of them were incautious and foolish. They'd destroy games by doing obvious greedy betting patterns or other actions that alerted casino security, who then would stop the game and ruin it for all the crews: kind of like a tragedy of the commons thing. Eventually it became a game of cat and mouse to disguise their activities from both other crews and casino security, then they'd trade games with respectable competent advantage players for other games and the like. Weird little economy.

But from what I've recently heard the scene has totally changed with the recession and it's much harder for advantage players to work in live casinos these days. I've heard credible rumors of very sophisticated online poker exploitation setups using custom software written by these brainiacs and well-designed networking platforms to milk online poker games using various obfuscating techniques (e.g. globally distributed IP addresses and private onion networks) to avoid being banned. They'd essentially have rooms of computers playing games simultaneously without human intervention with each account appearing to be a separate living human to the online casinos. I don't know how the recent anti-online poker thing hit them. My guess is that the best were prepared with offshore bank accounts and similar setups to avoid legal liability, or they were already operating in jurisdictions with favorable legal climates for their businesses.

Oh and Google "James Grosjean" (I can't post links to the wikipedia entry and a Cigar Aficionado article on the guy - not enough posts) to get an idea of the kind of person who ran in these circles and how he's adopted to the new environment. If nothing else his hatred for the casinos and the story of his destruction of one of their pet detective agencies with rumored six figure legal settlements with several big casinos are pretty fucking hilarious. Look around at the prices of his books if you can find any to get an idea of how seriously this business is taken.
(This post was last modified: 09-23-2011 12:43 PM by Malcolm Tucker.)
09-23-2011 12:33 PM
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Caligula Offline
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Post: #112
RE: How to be a professional gambler
(09-23-2011 12:33 PM)Malcolm Tucker Wrote:  I have a close friend who was part of a totally legal advantage player gambling group for the better part of the 2000s. Their specialty was hole carding in blackjack, but they used other strategies to shorten the odds with any game and move them overwhelmingly in their favor for small periods of time and then they'd pounce.

It took a lot of balls, time and effort to learn how to do it properly but the payouts were tremendous. Much of their time was spent going from casino to casino for 12-16 hours a day, six or seven days a week, looking for dealers with weak biomechanics who they could exploit. Once they found one they'd swarm like piranha and make serious money, then they'd track that dealer's schedule while trying to remain inconspicuous to casino security who could ban them at any time, and milk the dealer whenever he or she had a shift. They'd use spotters in other cities like AC or any other place with concentrations of casinos, and then fly into town to track down a reported weak dealer with the spotter either in the crew or getting a cut of the profits. It was a serious business.

Great post. How does the weak dealer thing work? What specific advantages were they working?

Quote:But from what I've recently heard the scene has totally changed with the recession and it's much harder for advantage players to work in live casinos these days. I've heard credible rumors of very sophisticated online poker exploitation setups using custom software written by these brainiacs and well-designed networking platforms to milk online poker games using various obfuscating techniques (e.g. globally distributed IP addresses and private onion networks) to avoid being banned. They'd essentially have rooms of computers playing games simultaneously without human intervention with each account appearing to be a separate living human to the online casinos. I don't know how the recent anti-online poker thing hit them. My guess is that the best were prepared with offshore bank accounts and similar setups to avoid legal liability, or they were already operating in jurisdictions with favorable legal climates for their businesses.

I know a guy who wrote and ran his own online poker bots and made good money from it until the sites he was playing on started to crack down on bots and he got tired of the cat and mouse. He found he could make more money writing software for other purposes.

It was all low stakes games, the margins weren't great, but he could do huge volume and play a lot of tables simultaneously and so ended up making money. He didn't look at much poker, just spreadsheets. Other people were doing it too and sometimes you'd have a table with only bots on it.

"A flower can not remain in bloom for years, but a garden can be cultivated to bloom throughout seasons and years." - xsplat
(This post was last modified: 09-23-2011 03:43 PM by Caligula.)
09-23-2011 03:34 PM
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Giovonny Offline
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Post: #113
RE: How to be a professional gambler
Don't be a gambler. Be the bookie. Don't be player. Be the "house". Don't place bets. Take bets.
09-23-2011 03:38 PM
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KingofScotland Offline
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Post: #114
RE: How to be a professional gambler
There are ways of beating the bookie and the casinos though if you are smart enough, have dabbled in it over the years but it's not something I can make money from long term and there are risks involved. Cut throat business and online casinos and bookies are dodgy as hell, none of them are properly regulated, the regulators are controlled and funded by the casinos themselves and the casinos are all based off shore or in places like Costa Rica where there's little regulation. Haven't had any major problems myself (just the odd casino try to not pay me a couple hundred quid or so) but know folk who have bene burned for thousands with no chance of ever getting it back.

Your suggestion of being the booke isn't a bad one, take bets on BetFair, it's a betting exchange and allows you to act as a bookie.
09-28-2011 12:42 PM
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Malcolm Tucker Away
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Post: #115
RE: How to be a professional gambler
(09-23-2011 03:34 PM)Caligula Wrote:  Great post. How does the weak dealer thing work? What specific advantages were they working?

Mainly they used hole carding.

I am no mathematician, but from what I understand if you can just tell whether the dealer's hole card is an ace, a face card, or a ten then I guess you can totally change the odds of a hand when you incorporate other stuff like how many decks are in the shoe, keeping track of the count, what the house rules are, and other stuff I don't understand. Some dealers show show just enough of the card that if you're seated at the right position on the table you can tell if it's a face/etc. just by the tiny tip of the card the dealer lifts to check out what he has dealt. Then whoever sees it uses codewords or gestures to inform the others at the table, who then bet accordingly.

Apparently the recession has caused the casinos to fire a lot of dealers so these weak dealers usually got the axe first if the casinos realized their weakness.

I'm sure someone here knows way more about it than I do, or you can just google around and read about the tactic.
09-30-2011 07:39 PM
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joehoya Offline
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Post: #116
RE: How to be a professional gambler
If you want to see the aftereffects of the government shutdown of the poker sites check out the link below. It is a thread on the largest poker forum in the world:

forumserver.twoplustwo.com/29/news-views-gossip/u-s-grinders-six-months-later-where-they-now-1113147/

(I can't post a link because I don't have 10 posts, yet. Can someone post the link in a post below?)

The whole thread is one gigantic, depressing, cautionary tale. Guys are going bankrupt, getting foreclosed on, getting divorced, suffering from major bouts of depression. A TON of them are being forced to move back in with their parents AND have to deal with the ridicule and "I told you so"'s of "friends" and family who never believed that gambling was a legit profession to begin with.

The one thing that interested me was how difficult it is for these guys to find a job now. Sure, the economy is in recession. However, a big problem for them is that since they were full-time poker players, they basically have a 2-4 year gap in their most recent work history.

For the past few years I was seriously considered doing online poker professionally. Eventually I settled on creating a poker bot (I am a web/software developer by training). After looking at the complexities of the issue and all of the logistics around scaling it enough to make it worth my time (i.e. running multiple bots) while avoiding being discovered by the companies and kicked of their sites (e.g. creating multiple accounts, putting the bots on different servers around the world, etc), I came to the conclusion that it just wasn't worth my time. I could make more money with less hassle as a freelance developer, and I wouldn't be messing around in the grey area of the law.

Reading the thread linked above confirms that I made a wise decision.
(This post was last modified: 10-17-2011 07:45 AM by joehoya.)
10-17-2011 07:44 AM
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