What separates the pro-gambler from the recreational one? How does one individual manage to consistently earn in an industry that has the odds marginally tilted against the punter?
We’ve all seen fictionalised stories of pro gamblers, whether it be Paul Newman in “The Color of Money” or James Garner in “Maverick”. These characters always seem to be, like a chess player, able to envision many moves ahead – to the level of almost being omniscient. This isn’t a completely accurate reflection of real life, although no doubt some research was done. It’s a Hollywood glorification of a rare personality type that succeeds in the gambling world.
So, what are the common traits of pro-gamblers and can they be learnt or taught? Well, that’s the million-dollar question…
Whether partially inflated or entirely warranted, a pro gambler is supremely confident in his or her ability to win. That’s not to say that this is always on display – in fact sometimes, such as in games of poker, it’s concealed intentionally. But deep down, the power of positive thinking and the boosting of one’s self-image are factors that all pro-gamblers share.
In gambling, this term is applied to those that know when to put their money down, and when to bet even bigger. This savvy enables pros to identify bets and stake accordingly.
Methodical and disciplined
Pro gamblers are consistent in their approach, which has usually been refined over the years. Time and again if the same situation presents itself, the pro gambler will respond identically each time. It sounds uninspiring, but once they’ve identified a winning method, why stray from it?
Of course, this winning method involves many, many losses along the way but the key is this: What works in the long term must be adhered to because a profit will be shown. It’s not about singular wins or losses – it’s about the cumulative effect of doing the “correct” things over time.
For pro gamblers, alcohol is for after work. The top pro gamblers know that alcohol dulls the senses and impairs decision making. This adds up to a lowered chance of winning.
Attention to detail
Sherlock Holmes would have been a great professional punter in real life because noticing details is essential in this tough line of work. Spotting differences, subtle nuances and marginal opportunities are the lifeblood of pro gamblers. This attention to detail can mean the difference between long term profit or loss.
Cool, calm and collected
Not all successful professional gamblers share this trait, but it’s common amongst the best of the best. Nerves of steel enable a pro to stand firm while others waver and wilt under the pressure.
Ability to strategize
Ok, this might sound obvious because gambling is in many ways a form of strategy. But, we’re not simply talking about game strategy, which is of course important. But, we’re also talking about the ability to construct a plan with a clear and decisive goal or endgame that will be achieved. This may involve many people, activities and circumstances which all need to be weighed up and evaluated.
A wise old gambler used to say to me “ The only certain thing in life is that things change”. When it’s time to adjust accordingly, pro gamblers show an innate sense of flexibility, managing to adapt to the unexpected.
The aura of mystery around pro gamblers is purely intentional. Why would they share their secrets of success and have their income affected negatively? Most pro gamblers find a niche to exploit and churn out the profits slowly. It may be as simple as finding two sports betting firms that always mark up differently when specific team’s play, thereby enabling an arbitrage (trade without the possibility of loss). Or, it could be identifying one poker site with lots of newbie players who bet “loosely”.
The image of a lazy pro gambler sitting on a couch eating potato chips while playing poker online simply isn’t true. In the vast majority of cases, these guys and gals are more driven and motivated than many of the sharks on Wall Street. There’s a hunger to succeed in pro gamblers – the same as any successful person no matter the occupation. Most of the time this hunger is not driven by the need for accolades or adulation, but the pure desire to accumulate wealth. They may be walking into a casino or betting shop instead of an office – but that doesn’t mean it isn’t serious business.
It’s not uncommon for pro gamblers to be charming and personable – able to make “connections” with people and instil loyalty quickly. This comes in handy for many professional gamblers who very often need helpers on their quest. The best examples of this method come from the UK where pro punters such as Patrick Veitch, Harry Findlay, Barney Curley and Alex Bird implemented the strategy to great success. They coordinated the striking of bets at the same time in multiple locations with the help of their associates.
Ability to deceive
This doesn’t mean that professional gamblers are inherently dishonest, but rather that they have an innate ability to “bluff”. It’s like a magician – the art of misdirection is the key. In betting coups, this may involve staring rumours about horses or teams which are false. At a poker table, it will be leading opponents to believe the opposite of the truth regarding the hand of cards the pro gambler is holding.
Living in the moment
Ironically many tout this character trait as the key to a happy life. Successful professional gamblers are able to shrug off “bad beat” losses where the odds were in their favour but they ended up losing. Likewise, they are able to not harp on a losing run – which happens to all gamblers, no matter how proficient they are.
No obstacle or setback can impede the path of a true pro gambler who has the talents and self-belief to succeed. They are notoriously resilient – as bookmakers and casinos close the gaps for profit, this wily bunch discover more ways to succeed. Finding new “gaps” in the market, betting outlets and fresh faces to place their wagers is a constant task. If it doesn’t go smoothly, pro gamblers simply pick themselves up time and again on the path to profit.
Lack of Addiction
Lastly, but most importantly, a professional gambler simply can’t be addicted to gambling. This will lead him or her down the same inevitable path of destruction that many addictive gamblers have travelled. A pro gambler bets only when the odds are in their favour. The act of wagering is a means to an end – a way to make money. Sure they will be satisfied after a huge win, but that’s more because of the imminent increased bank balance!
Can these traits be learned? Well, probably not all of them – but if you’ve read this list and think that you share some of these attributes, then maybe you would have what it takes to join the elite world of professional gamblers. Just remember though, like any profession, hard work is rewarded and complacency gets you nowhere. Start by seeing which of these factors you possess and which, over time you can acquire or improve. Happy punting!