Can you make a living from gambling?

5 min read | Written by Author | January 25. 2021

This is a question that has raised attention for many people over the last couple of years since gambling is becoming more normal (and legal) in the US. The short answer is yes, you can. Look at people like Dan Bilzerian, Daniel Negreanu or Phil Ivey. All have made their millions through gambling. But they also all have one thing in common, they play poker.

Poker is the best-known way of making a living from gambling, but the chances of making the big buck is small. If you think you can start training today and become Dan Bilzerian next week, you’re wrong. It would be similar to saying you can be as good as Tom Brady with only one week of training. Poker is a sport, and it takes years to achieve the same level as the ones who make it big. So, you can make a living from poker, but we wouldn’t recommend investing your time in that if you’re looking for a quick buck.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t make money from gambling. The thing is that no one hears about the guys who make millions on the roulette table, blackjack table or even more unheard of, sports betting. They do definitely exist, but there’s just not the same “celebrity vibe” on those types of gambling. So, to fully answer your question, “can you make a living from gambling”, takes a bit more phrases to answer.

In this article we will shine light on some ways you can improve your odds with gambling, and in the end, we will talk about the ONLY strategy that has been proofed to be working 100% and definitely makes it possible to make a living from gambling. 

Make a living from gambling on the roulette table

The beauty of the roulette table is the challenge it gives gamblers (and mathematicians). Professional gamblers all over the world have spent decades on trying to hack the roulette table. But no one seems to have figured out how to make a safe living from roulette. There is one theory that actually can work, but the issue with that is that it will require a huge amount of start capital and most casinos will ban you if they catch you in the act. The Martingale system…

The Martingale system

The Martingale system is a simple roulette system that many people lose a lot of money on because they haven’t prepared properly. It’s actually a quite simple strategy. On the roulette table, you can either hit a red or a black number. There’s also 0 and 00, which are green. But the chances of hitting those are low and they will still count as a loss. So don’t worry about those for now.  
The system is all about placing a bet and doubling up if you lose. When you win you will double your money. So if you place 50 USD on red, and it turns out red, you’ll get 100 USD back (where 50 of those are your initial stake). So you’ve made a profit of 50 USD. If you lose your 50 USD initial stake, you’ll just double your bet and place 100 USD on red. In that case, if you win this time you’ll get 200 USD back, where 100 of them is you initial stake and 50 of them is just winning back your loss from the first round, leaving 50 USD in profit. This system can be highly profitable if the roulette outcomes (red, black) is in a streak were it changes constantly.
However, if you hit a losing streak of, let’s say 10 blacks in a row and you’re betting on red, you’re fuc..d… When the chance of it turning red is 48% in each play, it sounds very unlikely that you’ll see 10 blacks in a row. But trust me, it will happen.

It will require a large bank to make sure you can always double up, so you can win back your losses. Below you’ll find a table showing you how much it will require to survive 10 rounds of black if you’re betting red.

The Martingale System
As you can see, in round 10 you are already down with $511 and now you need to place $512 in order to win back your losses and earn $1 in profit.
I’ve once witnessed a round of 18 reds in a row. If we just for the sake of it let this $1 stake example continue to round 18, you would have to bet $131.072 to win back your losses from the previous 17 rounds. If you win round 18, you will still only leave the table with a $1 profit. If you lose round 18, you would be down with a total loss of $262.143. Ouch…

No, you cannot make a living from playing roulette

As you should be able to see now, making a living from gambling on the roulette table with the martingale strategy isn’t a liable strategy. You can make a lot of money if you’re lucky with the outcomes. And the chance of winning is much higher than with other strategies. But if you get just 1 bad streak, you’re done.

Overall, we wouldn’t recommend the Martingale system if you’re looking for a way to make a living from gambling.

Can you make a living from playing Blackjack?

Blackjack (also known as twenty-one) is my personal favorite and go-to table at the casino. I think it’s the fact that you’re playing head to head with the dealer. You blame him if you lose and you feel better than him when you win. It’s a fun game, and it can make or break your night.

When you play Blackjack, you receive two cards and the dealer receive two cards as well. The dealer will have 1 card turning upwards and 1 card turning downwards. The plan is to get to, or close to 21. If you go over 21, you bust and lose. 

The perfect starting hand would be an ace and a face card (Jack, Queen, King) or a normal 10. Aces can be worth 1 or 11. So that would result in a blackjack (21) which is the best possible hand. The only thing that can happen if you get a hand of blackjack, is you win or break tie with the dealer if he gets a blackjack as well. If your two first cards equal a low sum, you should pick an extra card until you get close enough to 21. But if you pick a card and your total sum exceeds 21, you’ve lost. 

Once all the players have completed their hands, the dealer have to show the cards and keep hitting until the sum is above a total of 17. If the dealer gets a higher sum than you, you’ve lost. If you get a higher sum than the dealer, you’ve won. If the dealer hits enough to exceed 21, you’ve won. If the dealer ends on the same value as you, you’ve broke tie with the dealer and get your stake back with no profit or loss.

When you win a game of blackjack you double your money (your initial stake). If you lose, the dealer will take your stake.

How to make money from blackjack

Now that you know what blackjack all is about. Next question is, how can we beat the system and make money from blackjack?

I like to use the Hi-Lo system which is generally referred to as counting cards. Now before you exit this article or scroll away because you’re not comfortable with math. I can promise you, you don’t need to be, it’s much simpler than most people fear.

You split the deck up in 3 groups and assign them a value:

Cards 2-6 are assigned value +1

Cards 7-9 are assigned value 0

Cards 10 +Jack +Queen +King are assigned value -1

From here on you start counting every card the dealer brings to the table. So if the first card on a table is 10, the count is -1. If the next card is a King, the count is -2. Since both cards are assigned the value of -1, the sum of those two are -2.
If the next card is a 3 (+1) the total sum is now at -1. The next two cards are a 2 and a 5, meaning the count is now +1. The cards assigned the value of 0 can be completely ignored in the total count. So since our total count is now +1, and we hit a 7, the count will still be +1 because a 7 have a value of 0.

Basically, you’re counting high and low cards to get an idea of which type of cards the deck has already used, and thereby, which type of cards are left in the deck. 

If the count is +9, you now know that many of the small cards (2-6) have been in play and will not be seen again until the dealer switch the deck out with a new one. Since the majority of cards being used are small, you also know the majority of cards left in the deck and soon to come in play, are high cards (10, Jack, Queen & King). Hence, the chances of you hitting a high hand is very high and your odds of winning has improved.

Maybe you’ve seen the movie Rain Man before. The movie with Tom Cruise playing one of the Babbitt brothers who makes a fortune on counting cards at the casino. Now that you know how Raymond Babbitt is counting cards, take a look at this scene again and suddenly it all makes sense how he could know that there will be lots of Queens coming.

Can you actually make money counting cards?

As with the question about making a living from gambling, this question about blackjack doesn’t have one sweet answer. You can make money from counting cards. But you can also lose. The thing is that counting cards isn’t a safe bet, but it increases your odds of beating the dealer. It’s a simple technique but you will have to take some time to remembering which cards have what value. Once you’ve done that, I would recommend buying 4-6 decks of cards and start training your Rain Man skills. Once you feel comfortable (and fast) counting cards, try to go online and give it a go with small stakes to try it out. Make sure you use an online casino with live dealers who use real decks. I don’t know how the 100% “digital” casino work, and for that reason, I can’t guarantee that their algorithms use real card decks. Hence, it might not work.

Counting cards is a better solution than the Martingale system. But counting cards isn’t the best way to make a living from gambling. There is one system that beats them all, and that’s not found in the casino industry, but in the world of sports betting. Read on to learn more about the strategy.

Can you make a living from no-risk matched betting?

Sports betting is still a new thing in the US. It has been illegal in most states but is now becoming legal all over the country. It’s still not fully rolled out in every state, but I can already see that many international bookmakers are opening up for the US market. So, this is the perfect timing to learn no-risk matched betting so you’re ready to put your skills to use when it’s legal in your state.

No-risk matched betting is a system that takes advantages of the welcome offers (also known as signup offers). Most bookmakers will give you a bonus for signing up for an account with them. Typically, these bonuses will double your initial deposit. Meaning if you deposit $1000, they will add $1000 to your account, so you have $2000 on your account. These bonus funds will have some rollover requirements you will need to meet before you can withdraw the money. This could be 8xthe bonus amount. So, if you receive $1000 in bonus funds, you will have to bet a total of $8000 before you can withdraw your money. The bookmakers’ plan is that you will place bets and lose. And that’s what most people do, since the majority of bets placed are losing bets. But there’s way you can make sure you won’t lose. And that’s why matched betting is also called “no risk” matched betting. It is a 100% safe way to making a living from gambling.

Back and lay bets

Before we start on how to do it, you need to know a thing about bet types. There’s something called “back” and “lay” bets. A back bet is betting on something to happen, while a lay bet is betting on something NOT to happen.

So, if you “lay the Steelers to win Superbowl 2021” you will win if any other team than Steelers wins the Superbowl. If the Steelers win the Superbowl, you will lose.

On the other hand, if you “back steelers to win Superbowl 2021” you will win if they win and you will lose if any other team wins the Superbowl.

You can always place both a lay or a back bet on the same odds. In other words, you can say yes to something is going to happen (back bet), or you can say no to something will happen (lay bet). But you can’t do this on a traditional bookmaker, you will need a betting exchange to lay a bet. Bookmakers only offer back bets. But a betting exchange, like Betfair or Smarkets, offers both back bets and most importantly lay bets.

How no risk matched betting works

Now that you know about bookmaker bonusses and back & lay betting, we can continue to go through what you should do.

  1. Open a betting exchange account. We use Betfair for this example, but others make do as well.
  2. Open a bookmaker account. In this example we’ll refer to Bet365 as the bookmaker.
  3. Read the terms of use regarding the bet365 bonus. This is important because every bookmaker has different terms of use.
  4. Deposit money to bet365 so you will get the full bonus amount. In this example lets say the bonus amount if $100. So with your initial deposit of $100 and the bonus of $100, you have $200 in your bet365 account.
  5. Find a bet to and place your whole account of $200. In this example we’ll say the bet is Liverpool to win against Manchester United at odd 1,90 (we use decimal odds).
  6. Now, go to your betting exchange (betfair) and place a LAY bet on Liverpool to win.

No matter what the outcome of this Liverpool vs. Manchester United match will be. You will either win on your Betfair account or Bet365 account. Thereby, you can’t lose but you won’t win either. But you just placed a bet of $200 and your remaining rollover (8xbonus) is now $600 ($800 – $200).

You keep on doing this process until you’ve met the bookmaker’s rollover requirements, and then you withdraw the money. You can also be lucky to win the bonus money in the first round. If the back bet on bet365 loses, then your exchange account will win and thereby “move” the money away from the Bet365 account to the Betfair, where you can withdraw the money straight away.

This was a short guide to matched betting, but there are many other aspects to this system that isn’t mentioned in this guide. If you want to opitimize your profit, you will need learn about spread, requirements, markets, freebets, riskfree bets and much much more.

So, to answer your question from the beginning, can you make a living from gambling? Yes, you definitely can. And no-risk matched betting is the best possible way to do that. I’ve been making a living from matched betting for many years and have started The Betting Lab to teach people about the system. If you want to start learning no risk matched betting and make a living from it, you should go to our online course and check it out here.