Like any other career, playing blackjack for a living has its ups and downs. Many of the positives of being a Professional Blackjack Player are obvious, like getting paid in cash and enjoying free comps. There are also negatives such as not having company-paid healthcare coverage.
Speaking from experience, I’ve put together a list of the top 5 positive and negative aspects of playing blackjack for a living. My hope is to help people decide if this lifestyle seems right for them before they go out and experience everything first hand. I’ll go with the assumption that you enjoy playing cards and are interested in card counting, because I would never recommend anyone pursue a career that they won’t enjoy.
The benefit of being handed cash on the same day you earn it is fairly self-explanatory. I don’t know anyone that would rather be written a check than given cash.
Doing what you want, when you want, how you want, is a luxury very few people have. Being your own boss and having no one to answer to can be very satisfying and work well for a motivated person. If you’re an extremely lazy person and need someone to babysit you and tell you what to do, then playing blackjack as a job and card counting in general may not be for you. This is an entrepreneurial type of business that provides great financial reward for hard work.
Having the ability to work when you want and start or stop on a moments notice is an immeasurable benefit of playing blackjack for a living. You can never be late for work or take too long of a lunch. For the night owls, you’ve got the luxury of playing blackjack any time of day or night any day of the week. Sometimes I like to play as much as possible for a straight week and then take the entire next week off. The point is, as a professional blackjack player, how you manage your time is completely up to you!
This might not be a positive for everyone, but it certainly is for me. I would much rather spend a Tuesday afternoon at a Las Vegas resort than in a cubicle at an office. When blackjack is your job, you get to enjoy casual conversation at the tables in a vacation setting rather than sitting in a meeting room at work talking about increasing production. What’s more appealing, having a diet coke in a break room at the office or drinking a cold beer out at a pool?
For me this is a huge perk of the job. I’m not the type of guy that goes out and spends $300 on dinner at an overpriced steakhouse. However, when those lobster tails are free, they seem to taste so much better. Playing blackjack for a living allows me to eat at some of the priciest restaurants in the world and stay in some of the most beautiful resorts ever built. While most people save up all year for a summer vacation, my family is able to go to just about any casino resort for free on a moments notice.
For those of you that depend on company paid healthcare, you’re simply not going to get that covered playing blackjack as a job. You will be left to buy your own healthcare out of pocket just like any other self-employed person.
Along with no company healthcare, you also will not be getting an employer matched 401K. My suggestion is to set up a Roth IRA and make the maximum contribution every year. Your Roth IRA capital gains will be tax-free and can be cashed out upon retirement age. Although you may never want to retire from playing professional blackjack, you will hit what is considered the “retirement age” for a Roth IRA at 59 1/2. Roth IRAs are one of the best things going in the investment world, so take full advantage. Distributions really are 100% tax free!
This can be a good thing or a bad thing. I have a wife and kids, so I don’t like to travel away from them too much. We’ve chosen to live in a nice area with great weather rather than live where there are a lot of great casinos. This means I have to travel out to where I play. Sometimes that’s a lot of fun, but sometimes it’s just a hassle. You really have to give strong consideration to how you’re going to get to the casinos you plan to regularly play at.
Playing blackjack for a living doesn’t earn you a bi-weekly paycheck of a set amount. In card counting the money tends to come in waves that simply cannot be planned. Some days a Pro Blackjack Player might make more than he made the entire previous week. Then the next day he might make nothing. If you’ve ever worked a commission job, then you know how this is. If you’re accustomed to a predictable paycheck that you get every two weeks, then this lifestyle takes a little getting used to. Just don’t go spending all your money when you have your first big winning day.
This is my own issue and I don’t expect everyone to agree. After all, some professional players are smokers themselves. I personally can’t stand having to sit at blackjack tables with people blowing smoke in my face. Unfortunately casinos are packed with smokers. These days more and more casinos are adding non-smoking tables and are improving their ventilation systems, so this is a continually improving negative aspect of the game. One of my top personal rules is to never sit directly next to someone that’s smoking. If they light one up, I’m getting up and switching tables.
So there you have it, my own personal list of 5 positives to playing blackjack for a living and 5 negatives to consider as well. Only you can decide if this type of work is a good fit for you and your personality. I realize many of you just want to beat the game for when you’re on vacation or to supplement your income on weekends. For you, the issues listed above probably aren’t too significant. For those looking to get to a professional card counting level and have blackjack as their sole source of income, these are some things you really must consider before quitting your day job. Of course these issues only matter once you gain the necessary knowledge, skill and discipline to be a profitable blackjack player in the first place.