Life As A Professional Sports Gambler: Attributes & Skills Required

In our previous article in this series, we looked at the cons of life as a professional sports gambler. If you've been thinking about making sports betting a full time job, this article may well have put you off the idea completely. That's no bad thing at all, and it's precisely why we wrote the article. We wouldn't want anyone to take such a big step without being fully aware of the potential downsides involved.

If, however, you are still considering a career in sports betting, you also need to read this article. Regardless of how much you want to make an income from betting on sports, it's unfortunately little more than a pipe dream if you don't have what it takes. Making it as a professional sports gambler is far from easy, and there are several requirements that you really need to meet. In particular, there are certain skills and attributes that you simply must have. We've listed these below, and explained why each one is so important.

A Long Term View

If you're looking to take up full time sports betting as a way to get rich quick then you are doing it for entirely the wrong reasons. You are also almost certain to be very disappointed. Not everyone has the same perception of what constitutes rich of course, but the fact is that sports betting is not a good way to make a lot of money quickly.

To have a successful sports betting career you should always be primarily focused on the long term. You should have a plan in place that sets out what you are looking to achieve, and your goals should center on building up a steady and reliable income over time. Everything you do should then be geared towards achieving your goals.

This is not to say that the short term doesn't matter at all, as it does, and there's nothing specifically wrong with trying to make as much money as you possibly can in any given day or week. You don't want to take unnecessary risks to do this though, which is why it's important to always be thinking about your overall long term goals.


This is very closely linked to the above point. Patience is a vital attribute for a sports bettor, as a lack of it means you are far less likely to make rational judgments when you need to. This can lead to mistakes, which obviously lead to losses. You will achieve your goals if you're good enough, but you don't need to rush things. Staying patient and waiting for the right opportunities to bet is always the best approach.

A Healthy Bankroll

This probably couldn't be classed as either a skill or an attribute, but it is an essential requirement so it's got to be worth mentioning in our view. You absolutely need to make sure that you are properly funded before you can even think about taking up sports betting as a full time job. You must have a bankroll that is large enough to cover a lengthy losing streak, while still enabling you to bet at stakes that are sufficiently high to provide you with your target income.

In addition to your betting bankroll you should ideally have a few months' worth of living expenses saved up too. Even the best sports bettors in the world can go through long spells without making a profit, and you don't want to have to "borrow" from your bankroll just to live if you're not getting the necessary wins. You certainly don't want the extra pressure of having to win a series of bets just to pay the bills.

Strong Sports Knowledge

Having strong sports knowledge is no guarantee that you'll be successful, and it's not enough by itself either. It's obviously something that you need though. You don't have to be a bona fide expert on every single sport that you bet on, but you really should strive to have a better than basic knowledge. Ideally there should be at least one or two sports that you are very knowledgeable about.

Solid Math Skills

Math plays a huge role in sports betting, so you must have a grasp of basic mathematical principles. You should be able to do relatively quick calculations when required, and understand the concepts of probability and value. This is not to say you have to be an absolute genius at math, but if you really struggle with it then you have to question whether professional sports betting is for you.

Motivation & Discipline

Two of the advantages we mentioned in our article on the pros of life as a professional sports bettor were the ability to choose your own hours and not having a boss to answer to. While these are definitely attractive benefits, it's important to note that they also mean you need to be motivated and disciplined.

It's all very well being able to decide your own schedule and not having someone telling you what to do and when to do it, but you do still have to put the hours in. If you don't spend the required time and effort then you have absolutely no chance of making it. There are bound to be plenty of times when you really don't feel like working, and sometimes you will have the luxury of not having to. There will be times when you really do need to do some work though, regardless of whether you want to or not.

If you have never worked for yourself, or without some level of supervision, then you might be surprised at just how hard it can be to motivate yourself sometimes. You really do need to keep sight of your goals and have the discipline to do what is needed when it's needed. However easy as you think this might be, it's almost certain to be something you find difficult from time to time.

Emotional Control

Emotions have no place in a professional sports gambler's psyche, or at least not while working. There may well be times when you are tempted to bet with your heart rather than your head, but this is something you have to try to avoid. Every single decision you make should be based on rational thinking and nothing else.

There are all kinds of emotions that can affect your decision making process, and you need to learn to put them to one side and stay focused on the job. Again this is something that sounds easier in theory than it actually is in practice. It's a skill you can learn, but that's not easy to do if you're the kind of person that tends to let their emotions get the better of them.


No matter how good you are, there will be periods when nothing goes your way and you can't get any of your predictions right. Sports events are unpredictable though, so you have to expect that there will be occasions when an outcome is unexpected. It's tough to take if several such occasions all happen in quick succession, but that's the nature of sports.

In any case, a bad run doesn't have to be anything to worry about too much. Providing you are making good decisions, for the right reasons, it will come to an end eventually. A sound betting strategy should always win in the long run. The problem, though, is that many bettors lose faith in their strategies during a bad run. They look to change things that don't need changing, and this can lead to everything falling apart.

This is why self-belief is so important. You have to keep believing that you are doing the right things, and have the confidence to stick to your strategies even when things aren't working out quite as planned. As tough as this can be, it should pay off in the end.

There is a proviso to this though; too much self-belief can be just as damaging, if not more so, than a lack of self-belief. While it is good to be confident in yourself if you genuinely feel you are making good bets, this confidence should only extend so far. You also have to be able to accept if it looks like maybe your strategies are no longer working for some reason, or simply that they weren't that good in the first place.

Obviously the difficulty here is in knowing when to believe in yourself and when to start questioning if you really are doing the right things. Unfortunately this is not something that can be taught, and it's a perfect example of just why professional sports gambling is not an easy route to untold riches. Success is definitely possible, but it is most certainly not without its challenges.