How to Make a Living from Betting on Sports
Published on October 18, 2016
Are you looking for an easy and stress-free way to make a comfortable living?
If you answered yes to that question, then you should stop reading. This post is just simply not for you. We have to be honest with you; making a living from sports betting is neither easy nor stress-free. It’s hard work, and it can be extremely stressful at times.
I’m not telling you this to discourage you. If you’re genuinely interested in making a living from sports betting, then I can help you. But I want you to know the truth about what’s involved first.
This isn’t something you should rush into just because you’re tired of the 9-5 work routine or because you’re desperate to escape the rat race. You need to be sure that you’re prepared for the challenges ahead, and that you have what it takes to be successful. Otherwise, you’re just setting yourself up for disappointment and failure.
Still interested? Great! I need to make one more thing very clear before we continue though. I can’t teach you EVERYTHING you need to know to successfully make a living from sports betting in one single blog post.
If I even tried to do that, I’d have to write the longest blog post the internet has ever seen. I doubt you’d want to read the whole thing anyways, as I’d be covering an enormous amount information. There’s A LOT you need to learn in order to become a professional sports bettor.
Luckily for you, much of what you need to learn can be found in the GamblingSites.com sports betting guide. This is probably the most comprehensive guide to sports betting that you’ll find online, or anywhere else for that matter. Not to mention, it’s been compiled by bona fide experts, including myself, who have actual experience in the field and who know what they are talking about.
So what’s the purpose of this post then? Well, my goal is to get you from your current level of betting to being ready to bet on sports for a living. I’ll make sure you can make an informed decision as to whether it’s the right career choice for you. Plus, I’ll help you prepare for life as a professional sports bettor and ensure you’re well equipped to deal with the challenges you’ll face. Finally, there’s a few useful tips that will give you the best possible chance of success.
The first step you must take towards becoming a professional sports bettor should be to answer this one question.
Don’t answer this right away. Instead, please pick one of the following options that best describes where you’re at with your betting.
We have provided some advice below regarding what steps you should be taking, depending on where you’re starting. If you picked option one above, then you should start with step one and work your way through the remaining steps. If you picked option two, then you should start with step two before moving on to steps three and four. And so on.
If you’re a complete beginner, or have very little experience, you need to start with the basics. There’s no point in trying to run before you can walk. We love that you are dreaming of betting for a living, but you must realize that you have a long way to go before you can make that dream a reality.
I suggest that you start by taking a look at our introduction to sports betting. This is targeted specifically for beginners, and it covers all the basics that you really need to know. It also includes some great tips for betting in the right way, that will help you form good betting habits early on.
Once you’re familiar with the basics, you can move on to the next step.
You’re a little closer towards the end goal of betting on sports for a living, but there’s still a lot more to learn. At this stage, you should start thinking about the importance of money management. This means putting some funds into a proper bankroll that’s specifically set aside for betting purposes, and then having clearly defined rules about how much you can stake on your wagers.
It’s also important to be positive that you fully understand the concept of value as it applies to betting. This is absolutely vital if you want to be successful. It’s almost impossible to consistently make money unless you know how to identify value in the betting markets.
The aim now should essentially be to study the subject of sports betting extensively. There are several ways to do this. Our sports betting guide, which I linked to earlier, is certainly a useful resource. However, there are other high quality betting guides on the web as well.
You could also think about signing up with a betting forum. There’s a lot to be learned by just simply reading discussions about betting, and there’s probably even more that can be learned if you join in the conversation. There are a wide selection of good sports betting blogs online (avoid the guys just selling picks though) and also plenty of books about sports betting.
So there’s no definitely no shortage of sources for information on the subject. You just need to decide which ones will help you the most, and dedicate some time to studying them. Then you can move on to the next step.
Making the leap from knowledgeable sports bettor to winning sports bettor is perhaps the hardest step of all. Having the required knowledge is one thing; putting that knowledge to good use is something else entirely. This is precisely why there are so few bettors who actually make consistent profits.
At this stage your primary focus should be on the strategic aspect of sports betting. There are hundreds of different strategies to choose from, but none of them are perfect in every way. So you can’t expect to just pick a strategy and start making money from it. You first have to figure out which strategies best accompany your skill set, and then you still have to learn how to implement them effectively. Let me be honest; this is not a straightforward process. Success at this stage can only be attained through both trial and error, and of course patience.
It’s also smart to start considering the psychological aspect of sports betting at this stage too. This means trying to ensure that you think like a winner, and that you are able to handle your emotions and remain rational at all times.
Make sure that you’re keeping detailed, accurate betting records and that you’re analyzing them too. By identifying what’s working and what’s not, you should be able to find ways to improve your overall results.
Once you start making consistent profits, it’s time to move on to the next step.
This step is essentially just about making a decision. You’re winning money, which is great, but are you ready to give up a job and start betting for a living? There’s a lot to be said for continuing to bet part time and enjoying the benefits of an additional income without sacrificing the security of a guaranteed salary.
The next section of this post will help make this decision easier, as I’m going to explore the pros and cons of professional sports betting.
As I explained right at the start of this post, betting on sports for a living isn’t necessarily the dream job that some people think it is. I strongly recommend that you give careful consideration as to whether it’s really the right career choice for you. There’s no doubt that it has some big advantages, but it has some real disadvantages too.
Let’s start by taking a look at the main advantages.
The flexible hours are easily one of the most appealing aspects of being a professional sports bettor. A lot of the work that needs to be done can be done at any time, so it’s possible to have whatever schedule suits you the best. There may be occasions when you HAVE to work (when live betting for example), but the rest of your time can be spent however you want.
It’s also up to you to choose how many hours to work, to some extent at least. Although it’s unlikely that you’ll be very successful if putting in just a couple of hours each day, you definitely don’t need to work 60+ hour weeks. Some weeks may be busier than others of course, but it’s ultimately your decision to decide what to do and when.
There’s plenty of flexibility in terms of WHERE you work too, as it’s not necessary to have a fixed location. All you need is access to the internet to do the necessary research and place your wagers. As long as you have a laptop or smartphone, you can work pretty much wherever you want.
I have a friend who’s a great example of this. He’s a single guy with no family ties, and he’s been betting for a living for many years. Every year he spends six months overseas; he enjoys the perks of travelling while still on the job. He will work in the morning, and then spend the rest of his day doing whatever he feels like.
He absolutely loves his life, and who can blame him?
Having no boss is another advantage that most people will find VERY appealing. Professional sports bettors can work in whichever way they see fit, without having to follow someone else’s rules. They have no-one telling them what to do, or how to do it, and with that comes an enormous sense of freedom. Don’t get us wrong; this job is not stress free. However the kind of pressure or stress you feel here is much different than that which is caused by working for someone else.
These first three advantages are essentially all related to quality of life in some way. More specifically, they’re related to the balance between work life and personal life. A lot of people don’t manage to get this balance this right, or are simply unable to due to the level of their work commitments. This definitely has a negative impact on their overall quality of life. In my opinion, being able to balance work with life outside of work more easily is THE best reason to consider betting for a living.
For a lot of people, however, it’s the fourth advantage I listed that’s the main attraction. Their primary interest is in making more money than they’re currently making. And there’s no doubt that professional sports betting can provide the opportunity to do exactly that. The earning potential is huge. In fact, to all intents and purposes it’s essentially unlimited. It is not easy, but it IS possible! There are quite a few very wealthy individuals who have made most of their money through sports betting.
This all sounds great right? But I don’t want you to write a resignation letter just yet. Let’s not forget that there are some disadvantages to consider too. The main ones are as follows.
Although professional sports betting offers the POTENTIAL for big earnings, those earnings are never guaranteed. You don’t get to look forward to a fixed paycheck at the end of each month. Make too many wrong decisions, or hit a run of bad luck, and your earnings could be very low. In a worst case scenario, you might even lose money.
A lack of guaranteed income won’t be a big deal for everyone. Some people can learn to cope with it. In some respects, it’s no different from being self-employed, running a business, or being paid on a commission basis. Some people do need the security of a paycheck though, and professional sports betting simply doesn’t offer that.
The second disadvantage on my list is a direct result of the first one. With no guaranteed income it can be VERY difficult to obtain credit in any form. It doesn’t matter how much you’ve earned from sports betting, even if you’ve done so consistently for many years. Banks typically avoid lending money to professional gamblers.
The next disadvantage to mention is another one that may not be an issue for some people, depending on their personality. However, I want to mention it because I know a couple of professional gamblers who find this to be the hardest thing to cope with.
Professional sports bettors spend the majority of their working lives in front of their computers and TV screens, which means little to no interaction with other people. Although they enjoy what they do, they really don’t like the solitude that comes with the job. They’ve learned to deal with it as best they can, but it still affects them and they often feel a little detached from the “real world.”
Anyone who’s already a serious bettor will probably not be surprised by the final disadvantage on my list. This isn’t exclusive to those who bet for a living, or even those who actually win. A lot of bookmakers and betting sites are VERY quick to limit or close accounts these days. They just need the slightest suspicion that they’re up against someone who really knows what they’re doing.
There’s an interesting article on the BBC website about this issue , and it’s something that’s received a lot of publicity in the United Kingdom over the last couple of years. This is an issue for bettors all over the world, but it seems to have the most coverage in the UK. The article I just mentioned is the subject of a discussion on Reddit , and the issue is regularly discussed on social media too.
There are ways of dealing with this problem, and the other disadvantages I’ve mentioned can be overcome too. I’ll offer some advice on this later. But for now I just want to make sure that you’re aware of these disadvantages. It’s vital that you properly weigh the pros and cons before deciding to embark on a full time career of betting on sports
There’s one more thing to think about when making this decision too, and that’s whether you have all the necessary attributes.
In theory, it’s possible for ANYONE to become a successful sports bettor. There are certain personal traits that make it much easier though. People who have these traits, or at least most of them, are far more likely to succeed than those who don’t.
Below is a list of what I believe to be the most important attributes to have. I wouldn’t say that it’s 100% essential to have each and every one, but if you’re lacking in most of these areas, then you should seriously question whether betting for a living is a viable option.
A love of sports is definitely not essential. It’s perfectly possible to be successful even if you have no real interest in sports beyond the betting opportunities they present. In fact, some would say that this is a good thing. With no real passion invested, it’s easier to be emotionally detached and make rational decisions.
Although I understand the logic behind this point of view, I don’t really agree with it. I think that a love of sports is a real benefit for the professional bettor. Those who are really into their sports are far more likely to fully understand all the intricacies and nuances that can affect results, and this really helps when it comes to making predictions. Sports lovers are also more likely to enjoy what they do, which should never be taken for granted.
Math skills ARE an essential attribute in my opinion. I’m not saying it’s necessary to be a genius or anything, because it’s not. Some level of ability is definitely required though, as math plays a significant role in sports betting. An understanding of probability is crucial, and it really helps if you’re able to do simple calculations on your own.
The next three attributes I listed can all be “trained” to some extent. So there’s no need to worry if these are things that don’t come natural to you. Don’t underestimate their importance though. These are all vital to your success and you have to be prepared to work on them, if necessary.
Without self-motivation, it’s unlikely you’ll put in the required time and effort. Without discipline, it’s all too tempting to take unnecessary risks and blow through a bankroll. Without patience, it’s hard to ignore questionable opportunities and wait for the right ones. But WITH these attributes, successful sports betting becomes a whole lot easier.
I’ve given you some real insight into what’s involved with betting for a living, and what it takes to be successful. Now it’s down to you decide if it’s a route you want to take. If it is, then pay close attention to the rest of this post. I’m now getting to the truly valuable advice that will really help you.
Before actually starting a career as a professional sports bettor, there are a few preparatory steps you should take. It’s not advisable to just quit a job and jump straight in. Proper preparation and planning will ensure that you set off on the right track and avoid making costly mistakes early on in your career.
Here are the steps that I recommend taking.
The primary goal will of course be to make as much money as possible. But, ideally, you should be a little more specific than that. It’s beneficial to have some idea of how much money you want/need to make on an annual basis, as that be your goal to aim for. Your level of success can be measured by your progress or attainment of that goal throughout the year.
You could set weekly and monthly targets too, but it’s not recommended. There’s too much volatility in sports betting. It’s easy to have a really bad week or month, and missing targets can be psychologically damaging. It can lead to a lack of confidence, which can in turn lead to making bad results.
A better way to break an annual target down is to set goals for each sport that you bet on. Let’s say you bet on soccer, tennis and golf for example, and soccer is your strongest sport. You could aim for 50% of your annual target on soccer, and 25% on each of the other two. This way you can measure your success more accurately.
Having set some goals, you can then think about allocating your bankroll. By working backwards from the annual target you can figure out roughly what size bankroll you need. It would also be wise to consider breaking a bankroll down by sport too. This is something I do, and it works very well for me. I basically assign a separate bankroll for each of the sports I focus on. My bigger bankrolls are used to fund the sports that I’m particularly confident about, as I’m willing to take more risks on these.
With a bankroll in place, the next step is to define a staking plan. For starters, you need to decide whether to use a fixed plan or a variable plan. Either is fine, but I prefer a variable plan (based on confidence levels). After that, it’s time to decide how much of your bankroll you are willing to risk on each wager.
I can’t stress this enough. Good bankroll management is important for all bettors, but it becomes absolutely critical when betting for a living. You simply cannot afford to take a high risk approach when this is your livelihood, as a bad run can absolutely cripple you.
Personally, I never stake more than 2% of my bankroll on any wager. And I only stake that much when I am very confident in my selections. Actually, most of my wagers are for just 0.5% of my bankroll. You don’t necessarily have to be quite as cautious as me, but I do believe it’s the best way to go.
The next step is then to decide what you’re actually going to be betting on: which sports, which leagues/events and which markets. This step doesn’t have to be set in stone, but it’s still important to have a broad ide of what you’ll be focusing on. If you bet on football, for example, do you plan to focus on the NFL, college football, or both? Do you plan to concentrate on the markets for point spreads, moneylines, totals or props? These are just some questions to get you thinking.
Don’t spread yourself too thin. Even when betting full time, there’s still a finite amount of time available. I’m not saying you have to specialize in just one sport, but don’t think you can bet on a wide range of different sports and markets either. Think about which markets you’re best at, and dedicate the majority of your time to them.
I mentioned earlier that one of the main advantages of betting for a living is the flexibility it offers. However, I still think it’s important to have some kind of routine. So I strongly advise setting up a schedule for your day-to-day betting activities, even if it’s a fairly loose one. Try to break the work required down into different components, and then allocate a period of time for each one. This will help you stay focused and make sure you’re spending the right amount of time in the right areas. The flexibility is still there when you need it, of course.
The final step of preparation is to choose your strategies. You should think carefully about which strategies you’re going to use, and how you’re going to use them. I realize that you’ll probably adjust these strategies as you go, but it’s still important to plan your approach at the outset. Otherwise you’ll end up betting with no real structure, and that’s NOT a recipe for success.
With all of this completed, you’ll be fully prepared for your new career. Now let’s look at how to deal with some of the challenges you’ll face.
I mentioned earlier that there are four main disadvantages of betting on sports for a living. Each one of these represents a challenge that is difficult, but not impossible, to overcome. I can’t really offer much advice on getting credit as a professional gambler, as I’m not a qualified financial advisor. I can, however, offer some advice on dealing with the other challenges.
First up is the lack of guaranteed income. There’s a relatively simple way to deal with this, but it might take some time. Basically, you just need to make sure that you’ve got several months’ worth of living expenses saved up. I would say that six months’ worth of living expenses would be the absolute minimal you need, while a year’s worth of living expenses is ideal. This way you’ve got plenty of security. An extended bad run won’t affect your standard of living in any way. And if your savings start to run out, it’s perhaps a sign that full time betting isn’t for you.
Please Note: Do NOT include your bankroll as part of your savings. A bankroll should be purely for the purposes of betting with, and kept entirely separate from all your other funds.
Next on the agenda is dealing with the solitude that comes with professional sports betting. I stated before that this might not be an issue for everyone, and some people may be completely fine with it. However, realize that this profession can cause loneliness, but there are ways to deal with it or even prevent it.
The easiest solution is to ensure that you find plenty of time to spend with friends and/or family while you’re not working. This time becomes even more precious when your entire work day is spent at home, alone and with no personal interaction. Avoid thinking about work while you’re with your friends and family; just enjoy their company.
An alternative is to try to incorporate some personal interaction into your working life. If you know others who bet on sports for a living, then you can contact them in person, over the phone, via email or through Skype. This will be a great opportunity to discuss theories and strategies with people who really know what they are talking about. Plus, the personal interaction will help you make it through the day.
Of course, you may not know others who bet on sports for a living. In that case, I refer back to an earlier piece of advice I gave. Consider joining some betting forums, and engage in discussions on them. It’s not quite the same as talking with someone you know in the “real world,” but it’s another form of interaction that can help alleviate the loneliness.
The third major challenge is perhaps the hardest to deal with. If you’re winning consistently, it’s almost certain that at some point you’ll start having accounts limited or even closed. Bookmakers and betting sites simply don’t want consistent winners as customers, for obvious reasons. Regardless of whether this is “fair” or not, it’s just the reality we have to face. Thankfully, there are some solutions though.
One solution is to make sure that you have accounts at a wide variety of different betting sites and that your wagers are well spread out. This might mean sacrificing the best odds and lines on occasion, but that’s a small price to pay for keeping accounts unrestricted for longer. Make sure that you don’t open accounts at just any old sites though. You MUST stick with sites that are reputable and trustworthy.
Another solution would be to fool the betting sites into thinking you’re NOT a smart bettor. This won’t work indefinitely if you’re making overall profits, but it might mean you don’t get limited or shut down as quickly. Try to place occasional sucker bets, such as parlays with lots of selections, as this will make you look like more of a recreational bettor. Also, if a site offers casino games, then I would play those from time to time. Just make sure that you don’t risk too much money on these things. There’s no point in giving away ALL your winnings just to keep an account open!
If you ever reach the stage where you can’t bet anywhere, there’s only really one solution left. This is not ideal, and you have to be very careful, but it would be possible to ask people you know to open accounts in their name and place wagers for you. I can’t wholeheartedly recommend this option to be honest, but as a last resort it is worth consideration.
I’ve covered A LOT of information now, and hopefully given you a lot to think about. There’s just one more short section to go.
To be honest, I could write a whole new blog post offering more advice on betting for a living. I might even do that in the future. For now, though, I just want to leave you with five tips that I think are especially helpful.
Taking frequent breaks is vital. As with any job, professional betting can become a chore after a while. The difference here is that you HAVE to stay fully engaged with what you’re doing. If you start just going through the motions, and running on autopilot, I can all but guarantee you’ll start losing money. Regularly having time off will help to prevent this.
This time off will help prevent boredom setting in too. It might seem unlikely that you’ll ever get bored of betting, but I can promise you that it will happen. There might be times when the right opportunities to bet don’t come up for a while, but it’s important to resist the urge to bet just because you feel like you should be doing something. This will end up costing you money in the long run.
It’s not essential to follow my third tip, but I strongly recommend doing so. As tempting as it might be to take all your profits out, it’s actually a really good idea to use some of them to increase your bankroll instead. As long as you’re doing everything else right, this should enable you to increase your earnings over time.
My fourth tip is perhaps an obvious one. It’s worth mentioning though, as it’s surprisingly easy to fall into the trap of sticking with the exact same strategies for a prolonged period of time. Although this isn’t a disastrous idea, if they are working, it’s still important to always look for ways to improve your strategies in order to make even more profits.
So, we’re on to the final tip I have to offer. This is incredibly simple, but I believe it’s one of the most important pieces of advice in this whole post. It can also be a little more difficult than you might think. There will be days, weeks or even months when absolutely nothing seems to go right. This is normal, and happens to even the most successful sports bettors all over the world.
I honestly believe that a lack of confidence can be the most damaging thing for a professional bettor to experience. It prevents them from being able to think clearly and make rational decisions. Everything starts getting second-guessed, and the end result is invariably placing the safest wagers possible. Rather than looking for value, you start focusing on just trying to land a winning bet. Value is EVERYTHING in sports betting, and once you lose sight of that you’re in trouble.
So when you’re having a bad run, please try to stay in a positive frame of mind. Analyze what mistakes you might be making, but don’t simply assume that you MUST be doing something wrong. You can do everything right and still get bad results sometimes; that’s just the nature of sports betting. Have faith in yourself and the decisions you make, and you’ll always turn a bad run around eventually.
On that note, it’s time to bring this post to an end. I just want to finish by wishing you the very best of luck. And, remember, you can always get in touch if you have any questions or if you want some additional advice.