->''He said, "Son, I've made a life\\
Out of reading people's faces\\
And knowing what the cards were\\
By the way they held their eyes..."''
-->-- '''Music/KennyRogers''', "The Gambler"

Someone whose primary source of income is gambling.

Risking money on games of chance and skill is a pastime that has been around since the dawn of civilization. The Professional Gambler is someone who emphasizes the "skill" part of the equation. They know the odds, can read the other players' intentions and resources, and know the best strategies. They may not always win, but win often enough to feed themselves and stay in "business."

As this way of earning an income only works with games that reward logical thinking, experience, and possibly applied psychology and acting ability, the professional gambler does not play at purely luck-based games, like roulette or slot machines. Favoured games are poker, blackjack, and other card games; more rarely seen are sports betting, dice games or billiard. The exact skills required of a professional gambler vary from game to game: in blackjack, savant-like memory and counting skills help to make the game profitable, and poker requires practical psychology and acting.

A professional gambler may not actually cheat, but certainly knows how to, and how to spot another cheat. Some games may come down to who can cheat the best. Expect to see TheMagicPokerEquation come up in stories involving this character--though often for their less-professional targets.

In the {{Western}}, professional gamblers are usually dressed in fancy clothes, looking quite prosperous but a bit tacky. Thus the adjective "[[CitySlicker tinhorn]]" often attaches to them. Many will wear a fair amount of jewellery, both to show off, and to have something to toss into the pot if the night is not going well. The gambler's weapon of choice is a Derringer or other small hold-out gun; this can make it hazardous to check his sleeve for concealed aces.

A frequent "bit" in Westerns is for someone on the losing end of a TabletopGame/{{poker}} game to lose their temper and accuse the pro of cheating--this can start a GamblingBrawl.

Despite his sometimes glamorous lifestyle, the professional gambler is usually a disreputable figure, and will often come to a bad end in fiction.

Compare TheGambler, who uses a gambling motif in his or her fighting style. See also the CardSharp, who uses cheating and sleight of hand to win, and HustlingTheMark, feigning poor playing skills to draw others to play against him. And if you're trying this but ''losing'' most of your money, then you might be TheGamblingAddict.


[[folder:Anime and Manga]]
* Suguroku Mutou ("Solomon" in the dub) of ''Anime/YuGiOh'' was a professional gambler in his youth, and apparently very successful until he retired. Mai Kujaku ("Valentine") is also a pro (she works cruise ships), but no match for the gifted amateurs of the story.
** In a filler episode of ''Anime/YuGiOhGX'', one of these who went to school with Alexis when they were kids shows up to settle the score with her. However, most of his success (at least as a kid) was due to the fact that he had enough money to keep gambling until he finally won. Alexis got sick of it and won everything back through Duel Monsters, but he was a sore loser and stole the scarf she wagered anyway, which leads to their present day game. He uses a deck based on coin tosses and has Alexis on the ropes, owing to the fact that he had a card which allowed him to re-toss bad coin flips. When Alexis destroys the card, he botches the coin flip that would have protected him from the game winning attack.
* Manga/{{Akagi}} sure makes a shocking amount of money from gambling, managing to bankrupt one {{Yakuza}} boss after another. He isn't good at spending, however.
* The D'Arby brothers in the third part of ''Manga/JoJosBizarreAdventure''...well, at least Daniel. Both enjoy gambling, but while Daniel is an expert gambler, Terence isn't so great at it. Their skillsets are opposites as well: where Daniel plays games of chance and cheats whenever he can, Terrence relies more on games of skill and generally plays fair, though they share the mindset that "It's not cheating if you don't get caught". Daniel partially, and Terence completely, look for another kind of payment as well: ''[[LostHimInACardGame souls]]''. Daniel runs afoul of Jotaro's incredible poker face; Terence runs afoul of Joseph's legendary skill at ''cheating his ass off''.
* Gojyo in ''Manga/{{Saiyuki}}''. His main source of income before he joined the others on their journey.
* Hiroshi Nikaidou in ''PokerKing'' aka ''MillionDollarKid'', is a professional gambler decided to play against other professional gamblers around the world.
* The Gambling King from ''Manga/RanmaOneHalf'', who is actually a terrible gambler.
* Firo Prochainezo of ''LightNovel/{{Baccano}}'', as part of his duties as a [[TheMafia camorrista]], manages the Family's casinos (which often involves breaking people's fingers for cheating). As a result, he's picked up enough tricks both honest and [[CardSharp dishonest]] over the last seventy-two years of [[ReallySevenHundredYearsOld perpetual teenagerdom]] to rain hell on casinos. As a SelfImposedChallenge he once decided to see what he could do with $100 solely through smart betting. He called it quits after two hours because he managed to multiply his original sum by over a thousand and was worried continuing would raise suspicion even with his occasional deliberate losses.
* Mitchal, a minor character from ''Anime/HeatGuyJ'' is implied to be this, alongside being a bodyguard (and friend) to [[SmugSnake Clair]]. Mitchal always carries a pair of pink dice he believes are "lucky." [[spoiler: [[TragicKeepsake They become Clair's after Mitchal blows himself up to protect him.]]]]

[[folder:Comic Books]]
* Bat Lash, a Western character from Franchise/TheDCU.
* "Cutting Cards", an Creator/ECComics story, had two extremely competitive professional gamblers playing ToThePain.
* Scat Thumbs from the ''ComicBook/LuckyLuke'' album "The Stagecoach".
** This is a recurring character type in the Lucky Luke albums. Scat stands out by being one of the good guys, while most professional gamblers that Lucky Luke encounters are bad guys.
* ''Franchise/DoctorWhoExpandedUniverse'': In one of ''Magazine/DoctorWhoMagazine'''s backup strips, the [[EldritchAbomination Celestial Toymaker]] once played poker with a riverboat gambler. The gambler endured defeat after defeat, until he resorted to putting holes in his opponent's cards so as to declare the game forfeit. Imagine his surprise when he found [[RealityWarper holes in ''his'' cards as well!]]


* "Doc" Holliday from ''Film/{{Tombstone}}'', though his first scene has him sticking up the game.
* ''Film/{{Rounders}}'' is set in the world of professional poker.
* ''Film/{{Silverado}}'' has [[SmugSnake Slick]], who introduces himself as "a gambler looking to run [[BlatantLies an honest game]]." His [[spoiler: Face Heel Turn]] comes as no surprise.
* Sam "Ace" Rothstein from ''Film/{{Casino}}''. He is professional to the point of analysing the types of wood different baseball bats are made of, or checking the windspeed during a game in order to analyse every variable of his gambling, so that, overall, he makes much more money than he loses. His associate Nicky, however, feels that he's missing the point of gambling by never having any fun with it.
* The title character of ''Film/BarryLyndon'' gambles his way across the courts of Europe with his companion, "the Chevalier de Balibari". The pair often cheat along the way, and duel with any man who refuses to pay his debts. Despite their winnings, their transient lifestyle yields little more than some fine clothes and a few trinkets. Towards the conclusion of the story, we are told that Barry has "resumed his former profession of a gambler, without his former success".
* Father Time from ''Film/{{Posse}}''.
* The protagonists from the ''Film/GodOfGamblers'' series are all...well, gambling masters. It's never shown specifically what tricks they use except for one guy who's a psychic that simply changes the cards to his favour [[DepartmentOfRedundancyDepartment with psychic powers]], but it's presumably counting cards. In one movie, the BigBad used a computer to count the chances, which was countered by the protagonist using a black toothpick to fool the overhead camera.
* ''Franchise/StarWars'' Lando Calrissian, part of the time. Other times he's either like Han and hunting treasure or smuggling, or trying to go legit and generally failing after a while. When he became the Baron-Administrator to Cloud City, it's because he won it in a card game.
** Han too, winning the Millennium Falcon from Lando.
* ''Film/HardEight'' has a strange example in that the two main characters somehow manage to make a living mostly playing casino games like craps, though such games always carry a house advantage in real life.
* "Fast Eddie" Felson in ''Film/TheHustler'' [[{{Hustler}} plays pool for money,]] but he's dwarfed by Bert Gordon, a ManipulativeBastard whose lavish lifestyle is sustained by his winnings alone.
* John "Lucky" Garnett of ''Film/SwingTime.'' He also [[Creator/FredAstaire dances a bit,]] but he insists that gambling is his real talent.
* Creator/PaulNewman is "The Kid" and Creator/EdwardGRobinson is "The Man" in ''Film/TheCincinnatiKid''. Both aspire to be the best professional poker player in the country if not the world. [[{{Foreshadowing}} Care to lay a few bucks]] [[SignificantName on who wins?]]
* In ''Film/CanyonPassage'', Lestrade is a professional gambler who makes his living skinning the miners in Jacksonville. He holds George's [=IOUs=] and keeps dragging him in deeper.


* ''Literature/{{Discworld}}''
** The Gamblers' Guild of Ankh-Morpork. Their Guild House is situated right across the street from the Guild House of the Alchemists, which [[StuffBlowingUp explodes]] often enough to be worth betting on. (When people ask why they built their guild house across from a building that explodes so often, they reply "did you read the sign above the door?")
** In ''Discworld/WitchesAbroad'', after Nanny loses her broomstick and all the witches' money to some card sharps, Granny proceeds to [[CrowningMomentOfAwesome beat said card sharps at their own game]].
* In ''Literature/ASongOfIceAndFire'', this is one way to view how Petyr "Littlefinger" Baelish plays the game of thrones. Others focus on pure XanatosSpeedChess or just being the best damned {{Chessmaster}} they can be: he's too busy getting rich and moving forward while playing poker or backgammon with the both the markets and politics. He is a ''very'' good Master of Coin -- everybody with a POV concerning him is very quick to point that out. But, part of it is not just being better than most lords at complex mathematics, bookkeeping and keeping a cool head, but also by being willing to stack the deck his way using very underhanded methods. He plays with probability and people's psychology while spiking other player's hands whenever he gets a chance. And, all of Westeros is his hustle.
* Phaid from the sci-fi novel ''Literature/TheSongOfPhaidTheGambler'' by Mick Farren.
* Creator/BretHarte created many Western tropes, and had a defining example of this one in the character John Oakhurst.
* Several of Creator/WilliamMakepeaceThackeray's characters, generally [[ImpoverishedPatrician impoverished patricians]] spent time as cardsharps. The VillainProtagonist of ''Film/BarryLyndon'' was one, as was [[TheVamp Becky Sharp's]] husband Rawdon. Throughout his novels, there is an entire family named [[MeaningfulName Deuceace]] who have this as their "hat".
* In Walter L. Kleine's ''The Wolf and the Panther Were Lovers'' (published in ''Magazine/{{Analog}}''), the protagonist, Ace Craddock, is such a one.
* In ''Literature/TimeScout'', this is one of Skeeter's many vices.
* Professional gamblers appear in many of the novels of Creator/JTEdson. Frank Derringer is one who is a recurring character.
* Mat Cauthon from ''Literature/TheWheelOfTime'' is an unusual case who doesn't actually need much skill: he's [[BornLucky so lucky]] he can reliably support not only himself but also (during one period) his ''private army'' with the gold he's won playing at dice.
** His own soldiers and officers continue to play with him throughout the series, feeling it's worth the steady loss of money for the reassurance of how phenomenal their commander's luck is.
* Jason [=dinAlt=] in Creator/HarryHarrison's ''Literature/{{Deathworld}}'' makes his money by gambling at various casinos all over the galaxy. It helps that he possesses weak and fickle PsychicPowers, and his MindOverMatter ability can be used to adjust the path of thrown dice and even nudge a roulette wheel. This stops after he moves to [[DeathWorld Pyrrus]].
* Rafe Adova of ''Literature/ElementalBlessings''.
* In ''Literature/HoratioHornblower'', Hornblower is forced to do this after his promotion is cancelled in the Peace of Amiens and the Navy puts him under pay stoppage until he "repays" the salary he drew during that time. He makes himself a "permanent fourth" at whist in a high-class gambling house, where the owner gives him a small stipend for doing so (along with his winnings).

[[folder:Live Action TV]]
* The TV show ''Series/{{Maverick}}'' had a whole family of them. Bret, Bart, Beau and Brent. The little seen sequel ''YoungMaverick'' had Ben Maverick. Oh, and naturally TheMovie ''Film/{{Maverick}}'' had a passel of professional gamblers.
** Beau "Pappy" Maverick (played by the same actor as Bret and appeared on the same screen as him, a neat trick back then) and Bent Maverick, Pappy Maverick's brother (played by Bart's actor) appeared as well. Of course, those two only appeared in one episode.
*** [[Film/{{Maverick}} The Movie]] revolved around a high-stakes poker game full of these (and plenty of {{Card Sharp}}s) at the climax. Oh, and Pappy was again played by the actor who played Bret...in the TV series.
* ''Series/TheTwilightZone1959'':
** The episode "The Grave". Steinhart (Lee van Cleef), a poker player who bets the protagonist he won't go to his enemy's grave at night.
** Similarly, "A Game Of Pool" involved a small-time "pool shark" challenging a legendary (and dead) player, with the stakes being life or death for the challenger.
* Ezra Standish of ''Series/TheMagnificentSeven'' TV series is a Professional Gambler drafted into law enforcement; he doesn't give up his cards, but he does sometimes have to put them down to go arrest someone.
* The short-lived ESPN scripted series ''Tilt'' featured a new meat professional gambler (played by EddieCibrian) learning the ropes from a hardened Vegas pro (played by Series/MichaelMadsen).
* When forced to it, Series/MrLucky can make his living this way, though he generally prefers to ''run'' casinos rather than gamble in them.
* Professional poker tournaments were broadcast on reality TV, usually for Texas Hold 'em. They were usually professional players that tended to be already skilled, sometimes with a well-performing amateur that did well on an online tournament.
** Speaking of reality TV, poker pro Jean-Robert Bellande was a contestant on ''Series/{{Survivor}}: China''. Maria Ho and Tiffany Michelle, who were also professional poker players, competed in season 15 of ''Series/TheAmazingRace''.
* Ben from ''Series/FrontierCircus'' was a professional gambler at some time in his past. In "Quick Shuffle", he runs into another professional gambler he knew from the old days who uses a doctored IOU to try and claim half of the circus.

* The song "Life's Other Side" has a verse about a gambler who is finally reduced to throwing his mother's ring into the pot--and dies, presumably from shame.
* The Kenny Rogers song, "The Gambler", and the four or so TV movies derived from it.
* The Clockwork Dolls' "The Ballad of Black Jack Jezabel" is about a professional gambler who hunts down the one man to ever defeat her.
* [[Music/ThePolice Sting's]] "Shape of My Heart" is (at least, in its most literal interpretation) about a professional gambler who seeks to comprehend "the sacred geometry of chance".

* The main character in Creator/SternPinball's ''Pinball/HighRollerCasino'', for obvious reasons.
* Bret Maverick and the player in ''Pinball/MaverickTheMovie'', who face off at a poker table.

[[folder:Tabletop Games]]
* ''TabletopGame/SpiritOfTheCentury'' lets you play this sort of character if you want -- Gambling is its own distinct skill (in a game where those are generally fairly broad) and comes with its own set of stunts to expand on the concept (say, by letting one apply that skill even in games of pure chance, use one's gambling experience to see through bluffs in other contexts, or having a convenient network of gambling buddies).

* ''Theatre/GuysAndDolls'' is focused on the lives of a few professional gamblers (the "guys") and two of their girlfriends (the "dolls"). Based on several Creator/DamonRunyon stories.
* In ''Theatre/TheGirlOfTheGoldenWest'', the Girl invokes this trope to Rance as a rationale for settling Mr. Johnson's fate by a game of straight poker:
-->"You're a gambler--he was, too--so am I. I live on chance money--drink money--card money--saloon money. We're gamblers--we're all gamblers!"

[[folder:Video Games]]
* Claire Majoram in ''VideoGame/MitsumeteKnight'', who becomes the Blackjack croupier of Dolphan City's Bar after [[spoiler: her husband Yang has died in the battlefield]], in order to make a living. She's thus the character in charge of [[BettingMiniGame the Blackjack mini-game]].
* It's unclear whether Setzer of ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyVI'' actually earns a living this way before joining the party, but he certainly fits the archetype. After joining up, he earns a living by beating up [[MoneySpider Money Spiders]] like everyone else.

[[folder:Visual Novels]]
* ''Franchise/AceAttorney'': Phoenix Wright winds up forced to become a variation for a time after losing his license to practice law. When we see him in ''VisualNovel/ApolloJusticeAceAttorney'', he makes a living playing poker, though he doesn't actually gamble any real money on the games he plays, he just gets paid to use his status as an undefeated poker player to attract customers to the restaurant he works at.
* Celestia Ludenberg in ''VisualNovel/{{Danganronpa}}'' earns her scholarship to Hopes Peak Academy for being "The Ultimate Gambler," renowned for cleaning out everyone who she's ever bet against. Since she's also known for being an incredible liar, it's hard to tell which of her stories are true; she still fits the motif quite well however (such as knowing immediately when other students are lying or showing off her vast knowledge of game theory frequently).

* The protagonist of ''Webcomic/{{EV}}'' is a successful gambler, specializing in online poker. A fair number of the supporting cast are also professional gamblers, of varying levels of competency.
* In ''Webcomic/NextTownOver'', Hunter is introduced gambling with a woman of this type, who is indignate, and calls in her guards, to deal with the charge of being a hooker.

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* On the ''WesternAnimation/LooneyTunes'' short "Mississippi Hare", WesternAnimation/BugsBunny passed himself off as one when he stowed away in a river boat, and locked horns with a real Professional Gambler, Colonel Shuffle. Bugs won.