The Most Difficult Parts of Being a Professional Sports Bettor

Frustrated Man With a Money and Sportsbook Background

Making a living through sports gambling seems like a dream come true. Unfortunately, for just about everyone who has ever placed a bet on a sporting event, it’s most likely going to stay that way.

With that being said, despite the difficulties, there are a few among us who have been able to turn their weekend hobby into full-time work. But make no mistake about it, it wasn’t easy.

In this article, I’ll get into the honest accounts that pro sports bettors have given to amateurs throughout when it comes to their profession.

Sports Betting Is Wildly Inconsistent

Imagine if your paycheck was significantly different every week. Now imagine if you actually owed money to your company on a regular basis. That is the financial situation of a professional gambler.

The first step that must be taken before you quit your day job is disqualifying for millions of people who would take up the job of “sports bettor” tomorrow if they could. You must have a very stable financial standing – meaning you’d need to still be able to live and support your family if you didn’t make any money in the first year of your new job.

In all likelihood, there are going to be years where you just don’t win very much money. The hope is that these years will be offset by very lucrative years winning money from sports betting, but that isn’t always the case. The reality is that you just never know how your income is going to look until it hits your bank account.

Ohio Sportsbook

This lack of regularity in terms of payment, and the overall risk of not knowing when (or if) they’ll get a paycheck isn’t for everyone. If you can’t afford to live on no income for a significant amount of time, it’s probably best that you stick to the weekend slate of NFL games and don’t try to bet on sports for a living.

Sports Betting Is More Work Than You’d Think

The majority of amateur sports gamblers make their analysis and picks a few hours before the game. It’s usually the first time they took a deeper look at the numbers, and they rely on some luck in order to grow their sports betting bankroll.

Professional sports bettors put in a grueling number of hours and consume all the information possible in order to make the right choice…hopefully around 56% of the time. For some gamblers, the sheer amount of time that betting professionally requires is too much. In many cases, it’s actually more time than you’d put in with a regular nine-to-five gig.

Aside from the amount of time it requires, the systems used to help pro bettors make picks are often extremely complex. It’s for this reason that a high percentage of sharps (professional handicapper) have backgrounds in professions like law, advanced mathematics, and other fields that require a high degree of intelligence.

I’m not saying that you aren’t smart enough to become a professional gambler. I’m simply stating the reality, which is most sharps who have been in the game for a while are probably smarter than you.

Luck Is Still Involved

One thing that I’ve always found interesting is that most gamblers associate casino games more with luck than skill, and when it comes to sports betting, it’s thought of as more skill than luck. I would contend that it should be the exact opposite.

If you’re at a casino, each event has a reliable probability assigned to it. Simply put, casino games are all numbers, and you can calculate what the likelihood of an event happening is and make your bet accordingly. Although there are some numbers involved with sports betting, it’s certainly not as reliable.

Roulette Wheel Closeup

Sports, on the other hand, are much less reliable. In some ways this can be an advantage. For example, you might have an instinct on a certain game that turns out to be correct, despite evidence that would suggest otherwise.

It sounds cliché, but it’s necessary to mention that sports betting revolves around a game that has a significant human element to it. Whereas the roulette ball does not care about where it lands, the athletes competing in sporting events have put their entire lives into winning, and this can’t be overlooked.

All of this rambling is to say that there will never be a “right” or “wrong” play from a statistical standpoint. This presents sports bettors with a unique challenge that casino gamblers, for example, don’t have to deal with – taking human nature into the equation.

Because it’s impossible to know exactly how each team and player is feeling, there is a degree of luck involved. The old adage of “they just wanted it more” still has an impact on sporting events, although it will rarely show up on paper. Sports bettors must try to predict the human element – their paychecks depend on it.

It’s a Long-Term Game

I’ll let you in on a secret – the difference between your betting strategy and the betting strategy of professionals is that you’re looking to win the weekend, they’re looking to win long-term.

Sportsbooks know that the vast majority of gamblers aren’t going to have the stomach to take risks because it will put them in a hole. What sharps realize is that over the course of several years (and thousands of bets), risk-tolerance is rewarded.

Betting for value is something that gets overlooked all the time by amateurs. Instead of looking at the money column, they simply want to win the bet. The trick to being profitable in the end is to recognize that your wins should cover your losses, and then some, even if you lose more than you win.

To get a little more specific, this philosophy means taking more moneyline underdogs, hardly ever taking heavy favorites, and spotting those bets that the public seems to under-value. You need to accept that you’ll likely lose more times than you’ll win, but that doesn’t matter if you’re able to hit on a handful of games with longer odds.

Most people aren’t looking to take a long-term approach to sports gambling – and that’s okay. But just know that those who do it for a living couldn’t sustain success any other way.

It’s Extremely Stressful

If you think your job is hard, imagine watching a rookie kicker line up for a 50-yard field goal knowing that whether or not you’ll make any money this week depends on the result.

It sounds fun in theory, but when it’s your actual life circumstance, it’s more stressful than anything else.

When you rely on the performance of other people for your income, anxious feelings can be overwhelming. Whereas in a typical day job you’re the one who determines your success, in sports betting, you can only do so much.

NFL Panthers Kicker

If you look at famous sports bettors, it’s likely they’ve suffered some type of hardship associated with the means by which they made a living. It’s a rollercoaster ride that few can manage for more than a couple years at a time.

A comparison that might help illustrate the point can be seen if you look at the life of someone who makes money investing [read: betting on] in the stock market. The highs and lows, and general unpredictability, leads to high degrees of stress throughout the industry.

With all of that said, there is an undoubtedly addicting nature to the excitement that most people can only imagine.


Quitting your day job in hopes of becoming a professional sports bettor is not something many people can realistically do. Perhaps that’s a good thing.

Instead, sticking to the Saturday and Sunday slate of football games is more than enough excitement. It might not be as high stake, but the mortgage payment isn’t going to get missed if there’s an injury to a key player in the middle of the game.