I was hanging around the house watching football when an old friend gave me a call. He was telling me how life was going, and all seemed well. Tom has been a part of an investment group started by his brother, and they have been doing great. Even when the market was going through some rough times, they seemed to keep their heads up. I was really glad to hear his voice as it has been awhile. Tom drew a deep breath, and asked me a million dollar question. One that takes a whole lot of thinking, and is not for the faint of heart.
“Ed, what do you think of professional gamblers? I know you have worked in racing, and you know many people who toss their hat in the ring daily. I have seen some of the folks who claim to be professionals. How hard can it be?”
Well, that is a tough question. I responded with the best advice to anyone who was thinking about jumping into the deep end of the pool.
“If you think a professional is someone who goes out on Saturday and wins $200, you may have the wrong idea. That is a weekend warrior. If you see yourself betting two or three times a week looking for a pick-six at every track you bet. That is betting. My definition of a professional (horse racing) gambler is someone who reads about racing daily. They look over charts, or watch race replays to keep track of horses-to-watch. A professional follows a small sampling of tracks, and sticks to their guns by not playing out of their target range. They do not play every race. The day may consist of finding your ten best races, and then sharpen down to your top six races. From the six, you will decide on using your best races as key chances in multi-race wagers, or how to find maximum value. Now comes the most important element of wagering; money management.”
He sounded a little overwhelmed, and didn’t think it would take all of that work. But after our initial conversation, he now has a better feel for what goes on. I told him that most people just assume really good players just show up and bet. That would be the farthest thing from the truth. They treat it as a job. There is prep work, finding your target plays, and then knowing how you are going to use your bankroll to make the day profitable. I then passed on an article from the New York Times by Andrew Bluth. Here is an excerpt from the New York Times:
“Would-be professional gamblers, should think hard before quitting their day jobs. Only one-half of 1 percent of all gamblers fall into the professional category, according to the Council on Compulsive Gambling of New Jersey. While actual numbers are hard to come by, people in the field say the number of professional gamblers may be 100,000 to 700,000 nationwide. Such gamblers are heavily regulated and must win a lot — and keep good records — to make the financials work. Most of the nation’s professional gamblers are stationed in Las Vegas and at horse tracks across the country. And although they pay taxes and are recognized by the Internal Revenue Service, they do not seek attention and go largely unnoticed.”
”Professional gamblers never go over the line,” says Kevin O’Neill, the deputy director of the Council on Compulsive Gambling of New Jersey, an affiliate of the National Council on Problem Gambling that has a prominent role because of Atlantic City’s casino industry. ”They take carefully calculated risks and know exactly when they have an edge.”
“That edge, the gamblers say, can be found only in a few places and rarely in a casino.”
After reading the article, he called me back later that night. ” Ed, I don’t think I’m going to quit my day job. It sounds like more fun being a weekend warrior.” I agreed, and we continued on about kids, and old stories from a place long ago. I could tell it was something he had thought about or he wouldn’t have brought it up to me. Gambling can be one of the most exciting forms of entertainment. Horse racing has a beauty and pageantry that glitzy slot machines lack. But as with everything in our life, it must be taken in moderation. But for the rare players that make a living from gambling. There is a great deal of time and dedication to honing your skills, and even then there are no guarantees about making the wall of fame. The Professional Gambler is not making noise calling attention to themselves. The professional knows that you have to treat gambling as a business; a profitable business.