The odds of winning a game in which you put your money down with the hope of winning is slim. This usually discourages most people from ever considering gambling, but there are some who find crazy ways to improve their chances and make it work for them. From predicting how long an opponent can last in fighting games to finding new strategies on how best to play poker, these professionals will show us that becoming a professional gambler isn’t always impossible.
The “how to become a professional gambler for tax purposes” is a helpful article that explains how and why people should become a professional gambler. It also includes links to other articles that are related to this topic.
We’re back with another installment of our So You Want My Job series, in which we speak with guys who work in attractive male occupations and ask them about the realities of their positions as well as advise on how men might achieve their goals.
Today we’ll look at a career that’s both fascinating and unusual: that of a professional gambler. Many a guy has gambled at some point in his life, whether with actual money or cookies. Christatos Aristad, on the other hand, was able to turn his gambling skills into a legitimate job, and a successful one at that. While some people think of professional gamblers as unscrupulous, Mr. Aristad belongs to an older school of gamblers and is the epitome of class. He’ll be writing a series of essays for AoM on the fundamentals and etiquette of a number of games now that he’s retired.
1. Tell us a bit about yourself (e.g., where do you come from?). What is your age? What school did you attend? Describe your job, including how long you’ve been doing it, and so on.
Christatos Aristad is my name. I am 52 years old and was born in London. I went to Cambridge solely because of family ties, and I spent my four years there largely drinking and gambling with my classmates. I next attempted a Medical Degree in order to fulfill a boyhood desire of becoming a doctor, but realized that my proprietary mix of drinking and gambling did not work in the more demanding environment of graduate degrees, so I dropped out after just one year. At the age of 24, I began gambling professionally around a half-year later and have been doing so ever since. As you would expect, there is no official schooling for gamblers. I’m in the process of retiring, and I’m attempting to figure out where I want to live.
2. What inspired you to pursue a career as a professional gambler? When did you realize you wanted to do it?
When I absolutely failed graduate school and had to drop out. Gambling was the one thing I was ever good at. My ambition was to be a doctor, but I excelled at gambling. I decided to attempt gambling when I flunked out of medical school and recognized it was because I would make a poor doctor. I was ready to attempt bigger games after playing in tiny games and small casinos for a time. Eventually, I was contacted by a guy who had a pocket full of cash and a game he wanted to win but didn’t believe he could accomplish it alone. He paid my investment, I played the game, and we were both satisfied. That game landed me an invitation to The Portland Club, a prestigious London betting parlor where I was introduced to the scene. After that, I accumulated all of the connections you needed in those days to play your way to a hot dinner, a secure roof, and a spotless suit. 3. Many guys bet for entertainment. How did you go from being a casual gambler to being a professional gambler?
It’s a mix of need and sheer pleasure. I didn’t decide to become a professional gambler in one fell swoop, but there came a time when I recognized I didn’t have any other options. At that time, I made the decision to persist with earning money via gambling and continue to leech off of the affluent guys with fantasies of poker, bridge, backgammon, euchre, and craps. I suppose it’s similar to being in a band, except with shorter hair, no instruments, and frequent washing. The second component is accessibility. Getting an invitation to the Portland Club was the golden ticket, at least for me. Without it, I believe I would have settled down and remained in the area. Everything else became feasible after meeting the individuals I met at The Portland Club and establishing the connections I did, notably via the guy who invited me.
4. You used to gamble with other people’s money all the time. Will you describe how it worked and how you went about securing support?
The first question that arises is how does the connection between the backer and the booking agent work, and the answer is that it works in the same way that every other job with a backer does; you simply have to seek harder and in other locations. Booking agents serve as intermediaries and talent scouts, while athletes serve as talent. The issue is beginning to be noticed. To tell you the truth, I’m not sure how it works these days. It was just a question of being a poorer but better player, playing for wealthy guys who couldn’t even handle their cards, and remaining in the business as it developed while I was playing. Today, the industry is evolving, with tournaments becoming more popular among newcomers, despite the fact that they contain less money in the long run and that people prefer poker and blackjack to baccarat and craps.
If you wanted an understanding of how it works beyond how I do it, the second half of my response would probably take a book to describe and more experience than I have. Albert Hull, my great buddy who landed me an invitation to the Portland Club, has been my booking agent for the most of my career. Albert has made a profession out of finding games for me to play, and I’ve built a career out of finding money to play with. We usually start our engines when one of us hears about more money in the system or a tasty game coming down the pipeline. If fresh money enters the system, Albert, a true blue blood with a genuine job and some real connections, woos the financiers until they agree to open their wallets and give us a taste, while I grab the closest chair and reach for a deck of cards or a handful of dice. If a game is in the cards, Albert summons one of our dependable cashiers, and I begin making noises about wanting a seat at the table. We’re OK if my identity checks out, my check clears, and I don’t come off as a total jerk to the game’s operators.
5. What is the most enjoyable aspect of your job?
The flurry. Other than gambling, I’ve done a lot of things in my life, but nothing compares to gambling with actual gamblers. The excitement of gradually gaining control of the game. The mathematical decrease of each player’s supply of chips, the moment of revelation when you realize you’re in power. The never-ending battle between you and the other victor. Each and every one of those wonderful experiences that remind you why you deserve to be at that table. After that strong and continuous high, winning is a huge bummer. The game would never end if I had my way. You lose control and they eat you alive if you drag it out indefinitely and never go for the neck. The cost of the high is that YOU must put a stop to it. When it comes to you, it’s a horrifying discovery. However, it is that awareness that distinguishes the professionals from the hustlers. A professional likes what he does, but understands that at the end of the day, he must maintain his work professional. He is digging his own tomb if he loses sight of the bottom line, no matter how much joy he takes from it. A hustler never recognizes their actions for what they are. They believe you can keep riding the thrill while balancing the enjoyment and the money. They are mistaken. You must mature in this industry, as well as in life. Yes, you may play for pleasure and money and live for rush after rush for a while, but if you don’t grow up, you’ll find yourself living on the razor’s edge every time you play. Because there comes a point in every game when the joy must finish and the business must begin, and the competitors must be put away. A hustler never learns to see a situation for what it is, and instead relies on chance or talent to succeed. That is, until they come across an experienced hand who understands the game well enough to master their technique and force them to the ground after they’ve exhausted their tricks. I’ve seen it at least a half-dozen times, and it’s never pleasant to witness a hungry little child being sucked dry by someone who doesn’t need the money and instead views it as a lesson. The fact that the best part is a double-edged sword is, I suppose, a statement on the work.
6. What is the most difficult aspect of your job?
Participating in sports. Whether it’s horse racing, collegiate athletics, or professional sports, there’s something for everyone. We killed a bit inside whenever a supporter came to Albert or me with a large stack of cash and urged us to earn him a fortune off the upcoming season of his favorite sport. When playing a game, you can only control around half of the factors. However, when it comes to sports betting, you have no control. You can only play the odds and hope for the best. And luck is the most powerful woman on the planet. She’ll bleed you dry, bury you alive beneath a mound of flesh-eating insects, then construct an explosive broken glass factory on top of it and burn it down.
I’ve seen what luck and chance have done to gamblers over the years, and it’s not pretty. Take a look at a betting pool and notice the logic that justifies your investment. If 200 participants deposit $50.00 in the pool and only 5 win any money at a graded rate, 195 lose their full investment totally due to non-controllable causes for a non-computable chance of winning 1 of 5 graded rewards whose worth is based on 195 losers. That is how luck works. Statistics choose a small number of winners at random to drain every penny from you, the great majority of players, so that the reward at the end of the tunnel is substantial enough to keep everyone engaged and playing. And, by the way, the term for you, the great majority of gamers, is losers. This technique is present in all forms of gambling; sports betting is simply more blatant about it, so I can’t avoid it. It makes me feel like a terrible human being. When it comes to games, you may claim with some certainty that everyone is in charge and knows the score, but when it comes to sports, the whole system is rigged from beginning to end.
7. What is the most common misunderstanding about the job?
It’s simply a bunch of numbers. The aim isn’t to count cards or figure out the chances. If you can’t read people, you’ll find yourself wearing a ridiculously huge barrel in no time. Furthermore, no such thing as a “tell” exists. Unless they’re very, really horrible liars, people don’t play a full game of poker then betray themselves with a single tick. They have a pattern, a sequence, and a system of ticks and twitches that tell you a lot more than just, GOOD! BAD! LIE! TRUTH! You will rapidly run out of money if you do not understand people and how they function. For a long time, I’ve had the feeling that if you put the internet at a table, it would be some sort of Rainman winning machine. It wouldn’t work. Defeating the house using pattern recognition and arithmetic is wonderful and dandy, but for a professional, beating the house isn’t the problem. The problem is that you’re up against folks who already possess a home, a cabin, and a number of great vacation places. These individuals do not have to be concerned about the chances. They should be concerned about you. You, on the other hand. It’s the equivalent of playing cards with wolves. They get a whiff of terror.
8. How do you strike a balance between job, family, and personal life?
One comes first, then the other. There is no equilibrium. You’re on an aircraft while the game is on and the backing is in. The folks who organize the game and those who pay for your ticket don’t give a damn whether your wife is pregnant, your baby is teething, or your son is performing in his school’s “Parade of Nutrition” or whatever it is that kids do. They either find someone else to play with or they don’t. Some players I’ve known have families, but I wouldn’t suggest it. The vacant look in a parent’s or child’s eye as they sit down at the table for their child’s birthday is arguably the saddest thing in the world, and no one can play well in that state. When you know the score, it stings to win, and I’ve always tried to advise them to back out if I knew, but most don’t. A job is a job, and if you don’t show up for it even once, they may never call again. This isn’t to say you can’t date, but if you want to have a family before you retire, I recommend a more family-friendly line of employment, such as gangster or deep sea diver.
9. Some argue that gambling is not a “honorable” occupation. What would you say to such naysayers?
I agree with you. However, I never sit at a table with someone who does not want to be there. The fact is that “genuine” professionals aren’t generally the kind to sit at a public table in Vegas with Bob from Idaho who’s risking the farm on the last hand of Blackjack. We don’t play at tables that cost $5.00. We don’t eat at tables that cost $500.00. We sit in private rooms unless there is a shortage of space, and we play without limits. We are experienced gamblers who play with large sums of money. I have no sympathy for anybody who puts their money on the line and makes a wager they can’t afford to lose. This isn’t a game for pleasure; it’s a game for profit, and any savvy businessperson understands that you should never take on more debt than you can manage. The reward should always exceed the danger, yet with gambling, no reward surpasses being defeated by a bookie or losing your home on the toss of a dice.
People who gamble their money away at a regular casino, on the other hand, have always piqued my interest. Gambling is not a viable source of income unless it is your primary source of income. It is a good way to have a good time and lose your shirt, but anyone who has taken a statistics class know that even if the casinos didn’t tilt the odds in their favor, the odds would already be in their favor, even if you were a statistically ideal player making perfectly rational choices and bets every time. And I’ve only met one individual that fits that description, and I’m not sure whether I’d call that young guy a human or a freak. Casinos are well aware that they are up against an uphill struggle from the moment you enter. But, if you ever go gambling and are serious about making money, all I ask is that you first figure out this piece of advise and its significance: Play against the other players rather than the house.
10. Do you have any other advice, ideas, or stories to share?
Actually, quite a bit. But I’ll keep it to three pieces of advise, with stories and suggestions available upon request if I think they’re appropriate and within our kind host’s guidelines. These are, of course, my own opinions, not universal guidelines.
Never put more money on the table than you can afford to lose. There is no gain in gambling that makes it worthwhile to get into debt with those who are prepared to let you play. You should only wager money you don’t have. What do I mean when I say “don’t need”? Unless you’re a skilled gambler, I wouldn’t advocate spending more than 15% of your monthly net disposable income on gaming. That’s the cash you don’t need. That month, a little portion of the money you have for frivolities. If you have to save for months to make large bets, it’s a sign from God, Allah, Vishnu, Buddha, your banker, or anybody else that you should stick to the $5.00 tables and keep it tight. It’s never a good idea to have so much fun that you or a family member end up regretting it. Regrets do not belong in the realms of love and drinking, nor do they belong in the realm of gambling.
There are two victors and three losers after one hour of play or 10 hands in a card game with five participants, regardless of the game or regulations. You are one of the losers if you do not know who the winners are. If you’re one of the losers, get out of there. The victors are winners not by chance, but because they are better than you. Luck never seems to endure long enough to rescue you from your own mistakes. If you are one of the lucky winners, attempt to figure out if you are the large or little winner. Play it cautious if you’re the tiny winner. If you’re the big winner, don’t allow it go to your head, or you’ll morph into the tiny winner, and then a loser. These dimensions are very expansive, but allow me to simplify the theory. In each game, there is usually a large disparity between winners and losers. You’re a loser if you don’t realize you’re a winner. Count your losses and go if you’re a loser.
Allowing it to ride is a bad idea. Never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever After that, take your gains and place a new wager. You’re not fortunate tonight, and neither is your girlfriend/boyfriend/that gorgeous guy/girl you just met at the pub who you think may have a thing for you who’s gambling with you. You’ll be grateful to me afterwards. If you don’t, you should be ashamed of yourself for not listening to your mother.
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