Poker vs. Sports Betting – Which is Better for Making Money?

Poker or sports betting, huh? What one is better off for making money?

In college, this question was the subject of a lot of late-night debates among my friends. I would often be on one side of the discussion only to be swayed by an article I read during the week and to take an opposing view the following weekend.

“There are a lot of factors to consider. I remember one of my main points is that I’ve read somewhere that successful sports betting players make considerably more money than poker players or any other gambler.”

Similarities Between Poker and Sports Betting
Perhaps the most critical link between playing poker and betting on sports is that you can choose any one as a career. Both poker players and sports betting players make a portion of their profits from their preferred discipline.

“Both of these figures are greater than most.”

I’ve got a pal who’s a talented poker player. He’s a brilliant, well-rounded guy. He told me that while his poker earnings will be a living wage for most families, they make up just about 20% of his annual salary.

I’ve even met poker players who made almost 100 percent of their profits from playing poker and could barely cover their bills. My dad always refers to these guys as “unemployed.” They’re all relative.

For this post, I’ve been looking at what proportion of poker players are actually successful, and the figure can confuse you. It points out that between 90% and 95% of poker players record a net loss over time.

Obviously, this means that the actual number of real pros is quite small. While I don’t have the same data for sports betting, I can assure you that it’s as low as a percentage and probably even smaller.

Regardless, if a professional gambler has chosen poker or sports betting as their skill, one thing rings true for both:
They’re looking for an advantage, some kind of edge against the house or their competitors, and they’re hitting when they spot one.

This advantage is how easy it is for a professional gambler to stand out against the majority of players who lose money over the long run.

Poker and Sports Betting Similarities Continue
If you’re going to make a long-term profit in either discipline, you’re going to need proper bankroll management and make sure it’s large enough to withstand losing streaks. The outcomes of sporting events can be as random as the cards, and there are no certain things.

If you’re dealing for a statistical edge when you play, you’re likely to have a long-term expectation of winning little by little over a long period of time. That’s because, in a smaller sample, the results could swing in either way.

Only think about it as the casinos do. Some players are fleeing Vegas for a few hundred or a few thousand dollars in a short amount of time. But the casinos are not too worried, since a lot of losers step through the doors every day.

What if the casino’s bankroll was too small to remain in the game for a long time? Yeah, it will go bankrupt easily.

This is equivalent to the bankroll you need as a professional poker player or a sports bettor. You’ve got to be able to weather the occasions that Lady Luck exits the house.

For a poker player, this involves never buying in more than 5% of the overall bankroll you have.

If you have $1,000 in your bankroll, your full buy-in is $50. Period. Period. You will up the ante as you maximize the size of your bankroll.

If sports betting is your hobby, the percentage would decrease dramatically.

You should never place more than 2% to 3% of your overall bankroll on a single wager. Some experts have a hard-pressed maxim of never wagering more than 1% of their bankroll in a single game.

Sorry, but if you want to start laying $100 a game, you’d best get $10,000 in your bankroll.

Just to be clear, that bankroll is specifically designated money for gambling.

If you have $2000, but your rent and bills aren’t paid, you don’t have a $2,000 bankroll. And if you treat it as such, I sure hope you have a family you can move in with when push comes to shove.

These Gambling Activities Are International Affairs
Not long ago, professional gamblers were primarily “local,” meaning that they tended to be confined to small regions. Most of the poker players were limited to playing local games. They weren’t flying out of the country for gigantic tournaments, at least not with the regularity we see in modern poker today.

Sports bettors were certainly confined to their local books. Most of the time, you would meet them through an acquaintance or bump into him at the local golf course.

But the internet has changed everything.

Poker and sports betting suddenly opened up to millions of new prospects. And all of a sudden, you were able to compete for real money at a high level.

Most online casinos and sportsbooks operate internationally as a result of gambling laws in the United States.

While the federal ban on sports betting ended a few years ago, in 2018, many states have yet to adopt practice-enabled legislation.

Please ensure that you represent the US gambling community well whenever you have dealings with these international companies or other competitors.

The Online Poker Pro Is a Dying Breed
You can go ahead and scratch making money for the average poker player by playing real money online poker off your list. Right now, even good players are having a hard time.

In this modern age, your opponents may have more information about your tendencies than you do.
“Expect that tendency to be exploited with extreme prejudice.”

Not to mention, in the early days of online sportsbooks, there was a higher vig than brick and mortar casinos. This has placed online gamblers at an extreme disadvantage, but those days are long gone.

If you play your cards correctly, you can still make a living on either form of gambling. For poker players, you need to log on to the table for more hours, grinding out small wins. Poker can be less volatile in certain respects than sports betting.

Much of the reduced variance is the sheer number of bets you make every hour. A sports bettor, on the other hand, makes a lot bigger bets, but only bets a few times a week.

In poker, you can just fold until you find a situation where your winning odds are more than 70%, and you can only bet heavily on those scenarios.

Rarely, if ever, can you find yourself making a sporting bet with a near-win chance. The world’s most profitable sports betting firms are shooting between 53% and 58%. That might sound poor, but the empires have been built at 56%. Please ask Billy Walters about it.

What’s an Acceptable Return on Investment?
Apparently, the bigger your ROI, the greater. Poker players typically measure ROI as a measure of performance. The benchmark for the world’s best poker players is between 25% to35%. Again, this figure does not sound like much.

In poker, you can just fold until you find a situation where your winning odds are more than 70%, and you can only bet heavily on those scenarios.

Apparently, the bigger your ROI, the greater. Poker players typically measure ROI as a measure of performance. The benchmark for the world’s best poker players is between 25 and 35 percent. Again, this figure does not sound like much.

“But compare that to an investment account.”

The standard is not as big for sports betting because the bets are much larger and the margins are much lower. Your target should be between 5% and 15%. And that’s if you’re one of the best employees in the business.

Don’t get discouraged because you don’t hit the numbers right away.

It takes time to hone your craft, and even after you’ve fully sharpened your blade, you still have to master the subtle complexities of monetizing your art.

ROI is not the only indicator of performance.

I don’t recommend that you get wrapped up in such a way that you lose sight of what is of utmost importance—the making of profits.

Plus, ROI is also a valuable metric for monitoring. Suppose you’re making nice strides, and the bankroll is increasing slowly. In that case, you’ll be far more relaxed increasing your bet sizes if you have a well-defined ROI to refer to.

Poker or sports betting, huh? What one is easier to make money?

“Truly, this isn’t as easy as deciding one or the other, since the choice ranges from one person to another. If you’re an expert poker player, but you know nothing about sports, you may want to stick to poker.”

If you are lucky to be proficient in both of them, then do all of them by all means! Good luck with your gambling business!