Professional gamblers are people who make gambling their full-time vocation. Not to be confused with compulsive or problem gamblers, professional gamblers treat their job like any other job. They keep strict financial records of wins and losses, and keep track of anything from dinner receipts, gas mileage receipts, entry fees or hotel room receipts.
Gambling as a profession has many dangers. It is not for the faint of heart. As a pro, most will encounter many problem gamblers; people who have the addiction and can’t help themselves. Addicts, more times than not, end up alone and in despair. It is hard for the professional to come up against the addict, look into their desperate eyes, and then take their money. Many professionals have lost good friends due to addictions, whether it be gambling, drugs, alcohol, or any number of other addictions.
Gamblers usually keep strange hours. Many times games go well into the night, and sometimes go on for days. The professional must be able to keep this risky lifestyle in check; constantly aware of how the mind, soul and body are being affected. Being able to control both financial and physical limitations can lead to success or failure for someone wanting to be a professional gambler.
Poker has become a phenomenon in the last few years due to high exposure it receives on the television. Professional poker players are becoming heroes, and young people are looking to them as roll models. The Internet has taken advantage of this, making it very easy for anyone to play poker at any time. To watch the game, it’s easy to say, wow, I can do that. This has prompted more and more people to try their hand at becoming a pro.
An online professional, however, must be even more discerning than his land based equivalent. Like the land based pro, who keeps strict records of his gaming, the online pro must do the same.
Most online pros either play ring games, where each person brings their own money to the table, or sit n gos, where tournament type play is bought for a certain price and everybody starts with the same amount of chips. Sit n gos are different than actual tournaments inasmuch as the number of participants is far less than a regular full tournament. The large number of people who enter a regular tournament, along with a great number who ignore, or are simply not aware of proper playing procedures, makes it less than profitable for the professional online player to enter.
In the United States, anyone considering the idea of becoming a professional gambler should consider the ramifications with the IRS (Internal Revenue Service). The hardest hurdle to overcome for the professional gambler, and the one point that helps the IRS get as much as they can, is proving professional gambler status. In order to file professional gambler status, the IRS states that a person must prove, beyond a doubt, that gambling was a full-time endeavor to the exclusion of all other income producing activities; sometimes even other social activities too.
The easiest and most reliable way to forego the IRS trap is to establish a separate gambling body, such as an LLC, partnership or s-corporation, for the sole purpose of gambling. By using this separate body for the sole purpose of gambling, there is no way the IRS can argue about other income. If a gambler has regular and continuous play throughout the year, there is no way to doubt the professional gambler status. By forming the separate body, the gambler will also be sheltered from the substantial self-employment tax.