Surely the bad side of gambling is the addiction and around the world lots of people are unfortunately ruining their lives with this pathology. Most of them are falling into the addiction to try to make a living from gambling. But is this possible? With the help of experts, we have investigated the Professional Gambler life to try demystify some common misconceptions.
Archie Marsden was one of the few that was able to turn gambling into a real profession. Many see professional gamblers as a bit rogue but when we meet Mr. Marsden we have a very good impression and he is surely a great gentleman. Marsden has recently retired and was happy to spend sometime with us to explain the profession.
1. So tell us about yourself.
My name is Archie Marsden and I was born in London 52 years ago. I went to Cambridge and had 4 fantastic years mostly drinking and gambling with other students. Eventually I managed to complete a Medical Degree and around one and half year later, when I was 24, I started to gamble professionally. I have been doing it since.
2. Why you wanted to be a professional gambler?
Well I was only good at one thing and it was gambling. I liked to be a doctor but I was good at gambling so instead of make a bad doctor I decided to try gambling. After a period of playing small games I had enough cash to try larger games. Eventually I moved up ranks and I went to play in respectable London betting parlours.
3. The majority of men are gambling for fun. How did you make it from recreational gambler to your profession?
Well there wasn’t a single moment that from recreational it become a profession. At one point tough, I realised I didn’t had any other source of income and that didn’t scare me. I decided to follow my dream and stick with making money gambling. Also getting access to the best betting places in the city was a great opportunity.
4. You have normally been gambling with other people money. Can you explain more?
People have money and they like to invest in games and players. Booking agents act as middlemen and talent scouts and players are the talent. So playing for rich men that could barely hold their cards was an easy way to reduce my risk and increase my income. Today things are changing as tournaments are becoming more popular and there is less money being committed to poker, blackjack, baccarat and craps.
5. What is the best part of the job?
Gambling with real gamblers is tough. But when you slowly coming to control the game, the moment you realise you are in charge than you get a great adrenaline rush which is the best part of the job. The difference between a normal player and a professional is that despite also the professional will enjoy what he does, he knows that ultimately he is doing for business. Despite the pleasure that is coming from playing if he loses sight of the bottom line, he is digging his own grave. In this business you must grow up and be realistic if you want to make it long time. In every single game there is a moment when the fun should end and the business must begin.
6.What is the worst part of the job?
Sportsbetting. In a game, you can only control 50% of the variables at most. But when you bet on sport you control absolutely nothing. Since I have retired I have also started to play online in my spare time. I realise you can get a huge advantage by signing up to multiple brands. So I did. Most of them have casino games but also they offer sportsbetting. Well, every penny I won at casino I have lost on sportsbetting. The reason is that when you bet on sport you just play the odds and that’s just luck. Luck is the biggest bitch in the world. She will burn you down eventually. The things I have seen luck and chance do to gamblers in the years of my profession are very ugly. The problem of luck is that a tiny percentage of winners are chosen randomly and the price is large enough to keep everyone interested in playing. The gambling is dependent on this system and sports betting is just more direct about it but it is fundamentally the same thing. In a game you have that feeling that everyone is in control and knows the score but with sports the entire system is crooked.
7. What is the biggest misconception people have about the professional gambler?
Most people think that a professional gambler is just numbers. You have to be good in counting cards, knowing the odds and so on. This is not really the point. If you are not able to read people you are going to lose. People follow patterns. You have to be able to find that pattern to unlock them. If you can’t read people and how they act you are going to be out of money very fast. You have to smell fear. It is like playing cards with the wolfs.
8. What is the work/family/life balance like?
There is no balance. When the game is on is on. The people that set up the game and pay for your ticket they don’t give a damn if your wife is pregnant, if your son has his school presentation etc. If you are not available they find someone else that is available. This is not to say you cannot date but if you want to be in a meaningful relationship and be a professional gambler, forget about it.
9. Some people will say that gambling is not an ‘honourable’ profession. What would you reply?
It is true. However I have never played with someone that didn’t want to play. Professional gamblers don’t sit in common tables. They have private rooms and we play with no limit. We know what we doing. If someone is sitting on those table and places a bet that they cannot afford to lose I have no pity. This is not a fun game, this is a game for profit. Every businessman knows that you should never risk going into debts that you can’t handle. There are lots of people who gamble themselves away in the normal casino. I don’t have lots of pity for them either. Gambling is not a way to make money unless it is the way you normally make money. It is a good way to have some fun but everyone who has had a statistics class know that the casino has always the odds in their favour. Make sure you understand this fundamental concept: play the other players, not the house. Or you will eventually lose.
10. Any other advice or tips you would like to share?
Well the first one is that you should never bet a penny more than you can afford to lose. Unless you are a professional gambler you shouldn’t bet more than 15% of your net disposable income for the month. That is basically the money you don’t really need and therefore can afford to lose. Fun should never be so fun that it will cost you or a family member something you will regret.
Another tip is that in a card game that has 5 players, regardless of the rules, after 1 hour of play or 10 hands there are 2 winners and 3 losers. If you don’t know who the winners are than you are the loser. If you are the winner than try to find out if you are the big or small winner. If you are the big winner try to use your head not to become the smaller winner and than the loser. If you are the small winner play safe. Those are the rules and if you are the loser, count your losses and leave.
Never let it ride. Never ever. Pocket your winnings and than decide on a new bet. Never let it ride as the dice don’t like you and the cards aren’t magic and you are not lucky tonight or that pretty even!