There is something that has always fascinated me about beating the casino at their own game and luckily I was able to turn that fascination into a career. I was a professional gambler for many years. Someone who is able to make money gambling. Making my money originally with matched betting, then arbitrage, while dipping my toes into every other form of professional gambling.
In this post, I take you through seven different ways to make money gambling.
And other skill-based gamblers.
In short: Be better than your competition.
Whenever I used to tell someone I was a professional gambler they assumed I meant poker player. It is definitely the most well known and well-understood way to make money gambling, but that means it is also one of the hardest – because everyone is trying it.
The hardest part about being a professional poker player is not just being better than your competition, that’s actually the easy part. The hardest part is being better by enough to cover the ‘rake’. The commission that the casino takes from each hand. So to that successfully make money gambling with poker there needs to be a very large gap between your skill level and that of your opponent.
In other words, the better your opponent, the less money you make. So here is the secret:
The people making the real money in poker are not the famous names winning the big tournaments, but the anonymous professional gambler sharking on not very good players.
Resources to help you get good at poker
The biggest and best forum for all things poker is the Two Plus Two Poker Forum. If you want to start learning strategies and eventually make money gambling, that is a great place to start.
If you really get into it you will probably end up with accounts at all the online poker sites, so you can make the most of the welcome bonuses. But if you are looking for a good place to start I recommend Betfair Poker. A Betfair account is pretty useful to have and you can use it for some of the other ways to make money gambling.
Warning – Make sure to start slow. Play really low-value tables and only work your way up once you are making money.
And other loophole based gambling
In short: Keep track of what cards are left in the deck in a game of blackjack, so you can bet large when the odds turn in your favour.
You may well have heard of card counting from the film 21. The Hollywood adaption of the true story of a team of students from MIT who made millions card counting playing blackjack in Vegas.
But what you probably don’t know is that one of the biggest funders of that film was MGM Grand, who own a lot of very large casinos. Card counting is really difficult and casinos have got very good at making it difficult to make a lot of money from it.
I went to Vegas to try my hand at card counting. And surprise surprise didn’t get very far. But it is possible and there are plenty of successful professional gamblers who do it. Just be prepared that it is very difficult and not particularly glamorous.
Resources to help you get good at card counting
First off you cannot card count at online virtual casinos. This is because they shuffle the deck after each hand. So if you are going to do it you need to go into physical casinos.
I really liked the independent film Holy Rollers: The True Story of Card Counting Christians. It is a documentary following a blackjack team of Christians in America, and is probably the only film about card counting that I believe gives you a true idea of what it is actually like.
They spend all their time on the road travelling to obscure casinos where they haven’t yet been banned. When they get there they play as long as possible until getting caught, then take their winnings and move on to the next casino. There is no glamour and they don’t even make that much money.
And other promotional offer based gambling.
In short: Keep as much money as possible from free bets.
Matched betting is probably the easiest to become a professional gambler. It is where I started and over the years has made me a lot of money. And if done correctly it is risk-free.
Most online gambling sites offer promotions such as free bets to try and get you to sign up with them rather than their competitors. Those free bets need to be bet before they can be withdrawn, but if you are clever you can hedge your bets and guarantee to keep most of the value of the free bet.
When you do this over all the different online bookmakers you can make quite a lot of money.
Resources to help you get good at matched betting
I have a detailed free introduction guide to matched betting.
After that, you will probably want to sign up to one of the matched betting services like Oddsmonkey. For £17.99 a month they guide you into matched betting and feed you all the offers. You simply work your way through.
As I said, it is probably the easiest way to become a professional gambler but does have a cap. Once you have made £15,000-£20,000 you will need to move on to another way to make money gambling.
In short: know more about the sport than the bookies so you know when they underestimate an outcome.
Value bettors are often a world-leading expert in one particular team or sport. They know everything about it, more even than the oddsmakers at the bookies. They take all that information and make their own odds. If their odds are drastically different to what the bookmakers come up with, they will bet the difference.
The value bettor is probably the purest type of professional gambler. They are not using loopholes or bonuses, instead they make money gambling by beating the bookies at their own game.
Resources to help you get good at value betting
I’m going to assume you are already a world expert in something. The next step is to start creating your own odds. Here is a Wikipedia article on the mathematics of bookmaking which is a good place to start. Warning, it is not an easy way to make money gambling! Once you have started creating odds I suggest paper betting (with fake money) to test out your odds before you start spending real money.
Once you are ready to use real money, you need somewhere to bet. Traditional bookmakers don’t like value bettors because value bettors make money. So most professional gamblers will instead use a marketplace based sports betting exchange such as Betfair.
In a betting exchange, you are betting against other punters and Betfair just takes a commission of the winnings. So no matter how much money you make they won’t close your account.
In short: Find differences between odds offered at separate bookmakers and bet on all outcomes to lock in a profit.
Sports betting arbitrage is where I have made the most money as a professional gambler. It was even the subject of my university dissertation.
Very simply, imagine there is a tennis match going on. If one bookmaker believes player A is the better player and the other bookmaker believes that player B is the better player, then they will price their odds very differently. If the difference is big enough you can bet at both bookmakers on opposite players so whoever wins the match you will make money.
Resources to help you get good at arbitrage
Finding such arbitrage opportunities is actually the easy part. There is software you can rent such as OddsMonkey (£17.99 a month for beginners) or RebelBetting (€129 a month for professionals) which alerts you whenever there is an opportunity available and tells you exactly what the bet on.
The hard part is stopping your accounts getting closed. Although arbitrage betting is completely legal, as soon as the bookmakers realise you are a professional gambler and not a mark, they will limit or close your account. Here is a guide a wrote How To Make Money Arbing And Avoid Getting Your Account Closed.
In short: using the same strategies that hedge funds and banks use to trade the stock market trade the betting markets.
Everyone has heard of traditional bookmakers, but have you heard of betting exchanges such as Betfair? They are markets modelled on the stock market where punters can buy and sell bets. That means you can trade in and out of a single bet multiple times and lock in a profit before the event even happens.
Traders will, both manually and through automated bots, create strategies to buy and sell these bets.
Resources to help you get good at sports trading
I wrote a pretty detailed post on my experiences sports trading here. I had some initial success and was making money, but struggled to scale up. I am still trying my hand at sports trading now using the powerful automated trading software called BF Bot Manager.
The BF stands for Betfair which is the worlds biggest betting exchange and the most popular one for sports trading.
Most sports trading strategies are based on the stock market, so if you are looking to make money gambling using trading, then the best place to start is with stock market trading strategies. There are lots of books on Amazon about stock market or algorithmic trading.
There is also one book on Amazon about betfair trading.
Including collusion, match-fixing and inside knowledge.
In short: find a way to cheat, and don’t get caught.
All of the other ways to make money gambling are completely legal and won’t get you in any trouble. But there is another type of professional gambler. The cheater. And be warned, people do go to prison for cheating.
This can include a whole range of cheating:
- Collusion – where you team up with another player at poker to gain an unfair advantage.
- Match-fixing – where you know who is going to win or lose a match before it happens by convincing the players to fix the result.
- Hacking – where you hack slot machines or online gambling sites to get an unfair advantage.
- Inside knowledge – sometimes not all information is in the public domain yet. If you know that a key player is injured before anyone else, then you can bet and make money on that knowledge.
- Loaded dice – or marked cards can also be used to cheat.
Resources to help you cheat and make money gambling
I am not going to teach you how to cheat at gambling, but if you are interested in the history of it there are some interesting stories. Here is a documentary on YouTube to wet your appetite:
So You Still Want To Be A Professional Gambler?
I recommend starting with matched betting. It is by far the easiest and although it is limited in the amount you can make, it is a good gateway into professional gambling.