Professional poker player, Las Vegas, Nevada

What Happens in Vegas

Jeffrey Burdsall plays a mixture of poker games and played stud poker almost every day for nine years, putting in as many as sixty hours a week. He ignores table games and eschews sports betting. "I am a professional gambler. I get a thrill out of it. I've had a storybook life."

He often plays high-stakes games in casinos with tourists "looking for a diversion." That doesn't make them pushovers. "These are the hometown champions from every city in the world. You better be able to beat a talented, gifted opponent or you're not going to make it."

Just Win, Baby

Confidence is the essential fabric of a winner, and Burdsall believes himself to be the best at any table. But a good mind is a considerable advantage. "I've always had a knack for logic and basic math," he said. "I read every book I could find, and I underlined it. Your IQ needs to be substantially above average, but you don't need to be in the top percentile. I'm not aggressive, not at all. God gives you a certain level of nerve. In poker, I have no fear."

His career batting average puts him at two wins for every hand lost, and a good player has to swallow the bad days and move on. But it's the game that motivates Burdsall, not necessarily the spoils. "Money is just something you keep score with."

Word to the Wise

Think twice about those dreams of professional gambling. The income that Burdsall, a lawyer, realizes from his investment in his son's restaurant business has helped ease him into semi-retirement. "I tell youngsters that if I had to do it all over again, I'd go into business. Not only would you earn more in the business world, but, looking at it intellectually, I haven't contributed much to mankind." DeliciousFacebook FacebookStumbleUpon StumbleUponDigg Diggreddit reddit