By Ray Wallin
Not that long ago I met a professional horseplayer and sports gambler who makes his living playing the horses and sports. We’ll call him Wally the Whale to protect his real identity.
I didn’t meet Wally where you would think. It wasn’t while simulcasting at Monmouth Park, at the local OTB that is on my way home, in a horse racing chat room, or even sitting a bar watching a game. I met him while standing in line at the deli counter at my local Shoprite.
While I was checking my list to make sure I got the right spread of ham, turkey, and swiss, Wally was thinking of a different spread. He leaned over to me and said “I bet they don’t get to ticket 64 in the next five minutes.” I looked up from my list to see that they were calling number 59 and half-heartedly gave him a “yeah, you’re probably right.”
He was right.
As we continued to wait and watch the little blue-haired lady ask for a quarter pound of about a dozen things we got to talking. “What do you do?” I asked. While staring intently at the scale to see if the kid was going to go over or under the quarter pound of tongue the lady had asked for he whispered “I am a professional gambler,” without any hesitation.
Now Wally had piqued my interest. Realizing that we had over or under three minutes left before we’d be asking for our deli order, I quickly told him that I play part-time and write about it. I followed that up with “what’s your secret to success?”
Wally gave me a 2 1/2-minute talk. He had three tricks that helped him transition from an accountant sitting behind a desk for 20 years to playing the horses and sports full time.
#1 Decide What You Want and Write It Down
This sounds easy enough, right? Wally told me that he had thought about gambling for a living, but spent 20 years doing just that, thinking. One day on his lunch hour he sat down and wrote out exactly what he wanted to do and how he was going to try to do it. He carried that with him everywhere he went and looked at it often.
Wally made a real decision to move forward. He made himself accountable to his dream and the actions he knew he had to take to make it possible. Wally shared with me that he had several actions on that list including building a bankroll, honing his skills, gathering data, and learning all he could about both horse racing and sports.
Whether you are looking to improve your part-time playing or make the pivot to becoming a full-time player, you need a plan. You can always change the plan, but need a starting point and a path forward.
#2 Hold Two Visions At the Same Time
Wally had two goals. His first was to build a bankroll. His second vision was to do well enough to quit his day job and make a living through gambling.
Having both long and short term goals is key. Wally recognized the need to keep his day job while he worked towards building his bankroll. While he worked on this through smart money management of his bets and his personal finances, he also kept the “big picture” in mind. This was the first step in becoming a professional gambler.
Having both long and short term goals will keep you motivated to continue, even when you are stressed out and questioning yourself. Your short term goals will keep changing as you make progress, but your long term goal will start getting closer to reality with each passing day.
#3 Ignore Everyone
There is an expression that says something about opinions being like a body part that we all have and that most of them stink. Life is full of naysayers. Some people will try to dissuade you from working toward your goals. Others will tell you how it ought to be done.
Unless they have done it already, ignore them.
Wally told me that he hasn’t spoken to his brother since he quit his day job. His brother continually told him that he was wasting his time and that you can’t beat the races. Eventually Wally had to decide what was more important, pleasing his brother or following his dream and meeting his goals.
You have to do what works for you. You have to do what is right for you. You have to do what makes the most sense for you. Trust your own intuition.
Only listen to those who help you believe in yourself and see the possibility of what you want to become. There will be friendships lost and family members distanced, but you have to do what you believe in. Having negativity around you all the time is not a healthy way to achieve your goals.
Ten years after making the pivot, Wally has never been happier. He has been paying it forward encouraging other gamblers to analyze their game and see where they can maximize their potential and follow their dreams, even if it is only for a part-time way to make a living playing the races.
While I only had five minutes with Wally, I left he deli counter not only with my ham, swiss, and turkey, but a renewed motivation. We didn’t swap contact info. We exchanged pleasantries, shook hands, and wished each other luck, not only at the races but with the clueless kid behind the deli counter.
I am motivated to work towards both my professional and horse-playing goals. I have started following Wally’s three tricks and have written out my goals, both long and short term and am working to cut the negativity out of my life.
What long and short terms goals are you working towards?