Professional gamers and professional gamblers have more in common than might be readily apparent. Both are engaged in the pursuit of games, and both are quickly rising in prominence. While it’s well known that professional gamblers can build fortunes, not as many people are aware of the tremendous sums that professional gamers can make. Business Insider reports that Johnathan Wendel, known as “Fatal1ty,” has made more than $454 million competing in first-person shooter tournaments.
There are many more similarities between gamers and gamblers, including the following:
Perhaps the most obvious link between professional gaming and professional gambling is that it takes a certain mindset to succeed. Playing eight hour sessions of “Halo” isn’t much different than a poker tournament because both require long, extended periods of unbroken concentration.
For gamers, this often boils down to extremely fast reactions and laser-sharp focus. In professional “Starcraft” leagues, competitive players often clock in at more than 300 actions per minute. Engadget reports that during intense battles this number can jump to 600 actions per minute, or approximately 10 mouse clicks every second. Add to this the physical fatigue that comes with repetitive, physical actions, and you’ve got a perfect recipe for exhaustion.
In comparison, poker players must weigh risks and gains as well as countless possible outcomes and combinations every time the cards are dealt. The real stress also comes from the long stretches of doing all that math for naught: CardsChat points out that successful poker players only play about 20 percent of the hands they are dealt. The rest of the time, they are watching and waiting for the right time to play. This is a challenge for many amateur players because they can’t let go of the desire to play rather than embracing the reality that most of professional poker is folding at the top of the hand.
Success and Isolation
While both gaming and gambling are social experiences, many professionals in these fields are loners. These careers require constant practice for marginal skill gains, so there isn’t a lot of time for anything but playing. Oftentimes, pursuing professional status comes at great sacrifice. Online Casino Blue Book reports that successful professional poker player Daniel Cates spent nearly all his free time between classes playing poker online and eventually dropped out of school to play professionally.
In both these worlds, everyone else is the enemy and they’re out to get you. This means that many players end up keeping to themselves to work on their game. These jobs are the sort that don’t always win the respect of friends and loved ones, too. However, they do often come with the pressure of having thousands of people watch everything you do in minute detail while dissecting your decisions and judging you. Being the best requires an uncommon fortitude and obsessive dedication that few people can muster. And that’s what makes pro gamers and gamblers a breed of their own.