Gambling with poker or betting on sports

Which is a better way to gamble? Are you better off playing poker or could you make more money betting on sports?

It’s an interesting question with many factors. I once read in a book on professional gambling that successful sports bettors make more money than any other kind of gambler, including poker players.

Of course, that’s a bit short-sighted. Some people are better at playing poker than they will ever be at, say, betting on soccer. The purpose of this post is to compare both types of gambling and draw some conclusions about which one may be a better fit for you.

The biggest similarity

The biggest similarity between betting on sports and poker is that you can do it professionally. Playing on online slots or roulette, on the other hand, cannot be done professionally.

Everyone knows that a percentage of poker players make their living from it. The same is true for sports bettors.

Betting on sports can be profitableBetting on sports can be profitable
The percentage of poker players who actually play profitably is smaller than you might think. Somewhere between 85% and 95% of all poker players lose money over time. That makes the percentage of players who are true poker professionals quite small. We don’t have the same data for sports gamblers, but I suspect it’s a similar percentage. We would expect the percentage who are profitable while betting on sports to be slightly larger.

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Another deal

The other major similarity is that if you are going to profit from both activities in the long run, you need a bankroll large enough to withstand bad luck. Both poker and sports betting outcomes can be random. So you need enough money to avoid going broke in the short term.

Whenever you are dealing with a mathematical advantage in gambling, it is a long-term one. In the short term, anything can happen.

When you play poker, you should never buy in more than 5% of your bankroll. This means that if you are going to buy in at a table for €100, you should have at least €2000 in your total poker bankroll.

If you gamble on sports, you should never bet more than 1% of your bankroll on one game. If you are really aggressive and confident then you risk 2% of your bankroll on a single sports bet.

This means that if you want to bet €100 per game, you must have a bankroll of €10,000. A bankroll is money you have set aside to gamble with. It must be money that you do not need for any other purpose.

More about sports betting

Soccer betting review
Betting on soccer
Tennis betting
Betting on tennis
Horse racing
Betting on horses
Max Verstappen
Betting on Max Verstappen

Professional online poker is dying

If you are an average poker player then you can probably forget about making money playing poker on the internet. Even if you’re good, with a tight aggressive approach, you won’t just be playing profitably. A major cause of this is the rise of programs that can analyze your poker style and take the emotion out of the game. The emotion in the game is precisely what a professional poker player can benefit from.

Online sports betting is also difficult. The odds at online bookmakers are often less favorable than at traditional bookmakers. This makes it harder to win in the long run.

Either way, you can make a living at both types of gambling. With poker you definitely have to put in more time, you will have to play for hours at a time to make a good living.

With poker you have a much lower variance than with betting on sports. This means that you are more likely to win a relatively low amount. After all, when you play poker, you make several bets every hour. Compare that to a sports gambler who places larger bets, but limits himself to just once a day or even just once a week.

Another way to look at this difference in variance is to look at the probability of winning a bet. In poker, you can fold until you find yourself in a situation where you have a 65% to 80% chance of winning, and bet big at that point.

The best sports gamblers in the world are enthusiastic with a win ratio between 53% and 57%.


Which is better to bet on? Poker or sports? This post does not give a definitive answer because that answer varies too much from person to person. If you are bad at poker but good at sports betting, it is clear what kind of gambling you should do. The reverse is also true. If you are good at both, you should do both. Many professional poker players are also professional sports bettors.