The Glamorous Life of a Pro Gambler

Just imagine living in this 15 million dollar home. You’re paid a steady salary, supported by a whole team of staff whose sole purpose is to get you to play at your best. Alright fellas, let’s go. And if you don’t perform, you’re cut from the team.

Here we go, round three, round three. Keep it going, no breaks. If you think this sounds like the life of a pro athlete, you’d be right, kind of. Stop your bitchin’. It’s the life of the sports player of the future, lived by the lucky few today. As technology replaces old jobs, it’s also creating new ones.

I’m Aki Ito, and I’m here to show you the jobs of the future. My name is Michael Schmale, I’m a professional gamer at this website For someone who’s uneducated in the e-sports scene and doesn’t understand how it works, the way I would describe it is, it’s kind of similar to a professional athlete. It’s a lot of preparation, hard work, and team effort. I think one guy’s above me. Nah, trust me, he’s not.

Ghost Gaming pays players like Mike to compete in video game battles. And yes, that is a real job now. More people watch video games than Netflix, Hulu, ESPN, and HBO put together. And e-sports is already a billion dollar industry. (upbeat, energetic music) That’s how Ghost can afford to shower players with all kinds of perks, like this team house. It’s a ten bed, 16 bath mansion overlooking Hollywood.

And it houses 10 players at a time, all in their late teens and early 20s. So when most people just take a quick look at the house we’re living in, it’s a bunch of teenagers, and it’s a lot of us, so you would think it’s rowdy, we’re just reckless, but we’re professional e-sports players. Here’s the day of a professional gamer.

I wake up nine, 9:30, breakfast. Chest up, chest up, let’s go. 11 a.m., we have workouts. That lasts for an hour to an hour and a half. There you go Mike, push it straight into the ground. Eight, nine and ten.

After we do that, we hit the film session, and we watch film on other teams to see what they do. Just taking his time, make sure you guys take your time, you don’t need to be fancy with it, just need to make sure to hit the shots you need to hit. Oh man, after lunch, we play from 1:30 to 7:30.

One’s gonna be, ladder, ladder, ladder, problem. Bomb is really one shot. Oh my god, push that, one got pushed up.

And that’s just a long grind of playing against other talented teams. (gasping) Good job. We play from lunch to dinner. We have a wild lobster with chive butter.

I put it on Twitter. How you doin’, Mike? It’s amazing.

Mike’s been playing video games since he was five, but when his parents got divorced, that’s when he really buckled down on gaming. I would just get in my desk, turn my game on. It’s like I would disappear and go into another world and forget about all that. When he was 13, Mike qualified in the pro-league of the popular video game, Call of Duty. He became the youngest professional player in the game. When I first walked into the event, I was just amazed and just fell in love with it.

That’s when I knew this is what I wanted to do. That conversation with his parents, telling them he was pursuing a career as a professional video gamer, well, imagine your kid telling you that. There was a lot of arguments and late nights.

But Mike promised to put school first, and his parents eventually came around. Well, as a single parent, it wasn’t easy. In my mind, I really couldn’t foresee it as a career, but we were at the mall and some young boy came up to Mike and he said, “Excuse me, are you SpaceLy?” And Mike said, “Yeah,” he goes, “Can I have your autograph?”

And I started to cry, and I’m like, “This is crazy.” I’m like, “He recognized you, Mike?” And that was instrumental for me, as well, realizing how this has taken off. I started earning money at these tournaments after my third local event.

That was like one of the best feelings ever, being able to go home and like, “Look, Mom, look, Dad. “Today I got paid for playing.” I wasn’t just wasting my time, and I wasn’t just making up stories and fairytales just so I could play video games more. Mike didn’t wanna discuss his contract, but when he joined Ghost, it was reported that he and his teammates shared a 50,000 dollar signing bonus and were each offered a 4,000 dollar months’ salary. On top of all that, Mike also earns money on the side. Fans pay to watch him play on the popular streaming site, Twitch, and he also sells his own line of apparel.

That all makes for a pretty good living by the standards of any 20 year old, but it’s even better when you consider that almost all of his expenses, from his rent to his food to his training to his gaming related travel, is all paid for, which leaves a lot of room for shopping. Can I take them off? Sure.

Alright, we got the Yeezys, moon rocks. I’ve been a fan of shoes forever, so there’s a lot of times where I spend an insane amount of money on shoes. But like professional sports, gaming is not a life long career, and there’s a ton of turnover too. Three months after I met Mike, Ghost dropped him from the team, and he’s now back home in New Jersey. This sounds very tragic and could nearly end a player’s career, but this is a very common thing in the scene. And players get released and switched around all the time.

My advice to young gamers that wanna play professionally, you gotta stay patient, you gotta stay dedicated and understand that it’s gonna take sacrifice because there’s always another person out there trying to take that spot. But I don’t have any plans to give up the gaming career. I’m gonna bounce back from this and make my mom and dad proud.