Professional Gambler Once again we return to our So You Want My Job series, in which we interview men who are employed in desirable man jobs and ask them about the reality of their work and for advice on how men can live their dream. Today we feature a singularly interesting and unique job, that of the professional gambler. Many a man has gambled in his day, whether with real money or cookies. But Christatos Aristad was able to parlay his talents in gambling into a real profession, a lucrative one at that.
While some may see professional gamblers as a bit shady, Mr. Aristad is of an older school of gambler, and is the consummate gentleman. Tell us a little about yourself Where are you from? How old are you? Where did you go to school? My name is Christatos Aristad. I was born in London, and I am 52 years old. I went to Cambridge entirely as a product of family connections and spent a completely unspectacular 4 years there mostly drinking and gambling with my fellow students.
I then made a go at a Medical Degree to complete a childhood dream of being a doctor and discovered that my patented combination of drinking and gambling did not work at all in the more difficult atmosphere of graduate degrees and dropped out in my first year.
I picked up gambling professionally about half a year later at the age of 24 and have been doing it ever since. I am currently in the process of retiring, and am trying to figure out where to settle down. Why did you want to be a professional gambler? When did you know it was what you wanted to do? When I completely flunked my way out of graduate school. I was only ever good at one thing, gambling.
I wanted to be a doctor, but I was good at gambling. After I flunked out of medical school, and realized it was because I was going to make a terrible doctor, I decided to try gambling. After playing in small games and small casinos for awhile, I had enough to try larger games.
He paid my stake, I played the game, and we both walked away quite happy. That game got me invited to a respectable London betting parlor, The Portland Club, which got me into the scene.
After that, I accrued all the contacts you needed in those days to play your way to a hot meal, a firm roof and a clean suit. Many men gamble for fun. How did you move from being a recreational gambler to making it your profession? A combination of necessity and pure enjoyment. At that point, I decided to stick with making money through gambling and keep leaching off of the rich men with dreams of poker, bridge, backgammon, euchre and craps and just keep going.
The second part is access. Getting the invitation to the Portland Club was, for me at least, the golden ticket. Without that, I think I probably would have settled down and stayed local. But after meeting the people I did in The Portland Club and making the connections I did, especially through the man who invited me, everything else became possible. Will you explain how that worked and how you went about finding people to back you?
The first question implicit in that is how does the backer and booking agent relationship work, and the truth is that it works like any other job where you have a backer; you just have to look harder and in different places. People have money and want to invest in games and players, booking agents act as middlemen and talent scouts, and players act as talent. The problem is getting discovered. When I was playing, it was just a matter of being a poorer but better player, playing for wealthier men who could barely hold their cards, and staying in the business as it evolved.
Today the business is changing, as tournaments are becoming more popular among emerging talent, despite the fact that they hold less money over the long term and that people are committing to poker and blackjack over baccarat and craps.
The second part of that answer would probably take a book to explain, and more experience than I have if you wanted an idea of how it works beyond how I do it. My booking agent for most of my career has been my dear friend, Albert Hull, the man who swung me an invitation to the Portland Club.
Albert has made his career, and much of my own, finding games for me to play, or money for me to play with. Generally, one of us gets wind of new money in the system, or a juicy game down the pipe, and we start our engines. If new money is in the system, Albert, being a real blue blood, and a man with a legitimate job and some actual connections, woos the financier until they agree to open their wallets and give us a taste, and I just grab the nearest chair with a deck of cards or handful of dice in reach.
If a game is in the pipes, Albert taps one of our reliable money people, and I start making waves about wanting a place at the table. What is the best part of the job? I have done a lot of things in my life other than gamble, but nothing compares to gambling with real gamblers.
The rush of slowly coming to control the game. The moment of realization when you know you are in charge, the mathematical reduction of each players stock of chips. The steady duel between you and the other winner. Each of the fine moments that remind you why you deserve to be sitting at that table. Winning is really a letdown after that steep and steady high. If I had my way the game would never end. But if you draw it out forever and never go for the throat, you lose control, and they eat you alive.
The price of the high is that YOU have to end it. A rather terrible realization when it comes to you, really. But then it is that moment of realization that separates the professionals from the hustlers. A professional enjoys what he does, but knows at the end of the day that he has to keep what he does about business.
For all the pleasure he derives from it, if he loses sight of the bottom line, he is digging his own grave. A hustler never sees what they are doing for what it is. They think you can balance out the fun and the money, and keep riding the rush. In this business, just as in life, you must grow up. Because in every single game there is that critical moment when the fun must end and business must begin, and you must put the competition away.
A hustler never learns to see that moment for what it is and wins on luck or skill. That is until they meet an old hand who knows the game well enough to survive long enough to learn their style and drive them into the ground once they run out of tricks.
I guess it is a commentary on the job that the best part is a double-edged sword. What is the worst part of the job? Horse racing, college games, professional, whatever. Whenever a backer came to Albert or me with a fat stack of money and told us to make him a mint off the next season of his favorite sport we died a little inside. But betting on sports, you control nothing. And luck is the biggest bitch in the world.
She will leech you dry and then bury you alive under a pile of flesh eating beetles before building an explosive broken glass factory on top of the pile, then burn it down. The things I have seen luck and chance do to gamblers over the years are damn ugly. Look at a betting pool sometime, and recognize the math that makes it worth your investment. That is the nature of luck. And the word for you, the vast majority of players by the way, is losers.
It makes me feel like a very bad person. In a game, you can say with some confidence that everyone there is in control and knows the score, but with sports, the entire system is crooked from start to finish.
What is the biggest misconception people have about the job? That it is just numbers. Counting cards, knowing the odds, is really not the point. They have a pattern, a series, a system of ticks and twitches and so on that tell you a lot more than, GOOD! My impression for awhile has been that people think if you sat the internet down at a table that it would be some kind of Rainman winning machine.
The issue is beating people who already own the house, a cabin, and several lovely vacation spots. They need to worry about you. It is like playing cards with wolves.