Watching these professional gamblers in movies or on television may seem exciting and glamorous. To sit at home or at the casino, betting on your favorite team; it looks like a very exciting life.
When you see these kinds of characters, you may wonder why not me? Maybe you frequently find yourself on the winning end of wagers you place each weekend, and you are beginning to wonder if you could turn this into a career. That may make you wonder, how much do professional sports bettors make?
A Look at the Numbers
That is a really good question. To properly answer it, a little information has to be provided first. First off, consider the fact that the top sports bettors in the world don’t win as much as 60% of the time. The likelihood is that they are getting it right about 58% or 59% of the time. That means they are wrong better than four out of every 10 times they bet, but they are still winning almost 6 out of every 10. If you are making enough bets, this may work for you.
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It is also important to understand that there are some fees that you may be paying just to play. For example, there is usually a standard fee for the house booking on your action, referred to as the standard vig, which may be as much as 10% of whatever you bet. That means that if you are wagering $100 on a game, you are having to pay $110 when you include the fee.
It is important to understand that if you are not placing big bets, it will take a lot of time to earn big money. Consider that the average successful bettor is right about 53% of the time. The sad reality is that only 3% of all gamblers are that successful.
If you made 10,000 bets, wagering $100 every time, while paying the $10 fee with a success rate of 53%, you would win slightly more than $400 at that rate. That doesn’t sound like a huge amount of money, does it?
For a professional, someone who needs to earn $40,000 or more a year to survive, they have to place sizable wagers to be successful. They would have to place 1000 bets wagering $1000 each time to reach that amount. It’s not sounding so glamorous now is it?
The Reality for Professionals
The very best professional gamblers are right about 55% of the time. This is what it takes to be successful enough to turn this into a career. A success rate of this percentage means that a person would have to place 300 bets a year of $2200 per bet to make about $34,000.
Consider that the amount that they are wagering is $660,000 to reap a reward of $34,000. A lot of people don’t have that kind of money to be able to wager in the first place, meaning that they need someone to back them upfront to even get started. Either that or they need to come into a large enough amount of money to get started.
Most professionals figure out some advantage or system that helps them to be more successful. These are very difficult to find but, when they are discovered, they can be lucrative. For example, a 2015 study found that 1.3% of daily fantasy baseball players earned 91% of the total winnings. What that means is that millions of people played fantasy baseball with virtually no chance of winning.
Some players earn big money. It requires choosing the right bet, at the right value, and doing it time and time again, literally hundreds of times a year. To be successful, a professional sports gambler likely is going to have to be successful in more than one sport, or be incredibly successful in something like football or basketball. They are going to have to have sizable winnings every week to survive.
One last thing to keep in mind. A successful sports gambler is going to draw a lot of attention. If an individual is constantly winning, even at 56% or slightly above that, sportsbooks are going to start paying attention. That person may find that it is more difficult to place wagers over time because the casino or sportsbook is not in business to lose money. This makes the challenge of being successful even greater.
It’s hard to say exactly how much a professional bettor makes. As you’ve seen, the numbers are not very encouraging. What you are likely to find is that it is less than one-one-thousandth of a percent of those who earn more than $200,000 year. It’s long odds, but isn’t that what gambling is all about?