Chess hustler videos have populated the youtube algorithm lately, I have been seeing content about them for weeks now. This made me remember something about this website, I haven’t published anything about chess hustlers for a long time.
So I am going to publish one today! The topic that I have chosen is how much money do chess hustlers really make? I think it will be very interesting since I have some unique insights.
As a chess player here is what I know:
Experienced chess hustlers can earn between 20-50 USD in a day with normal tourist traffic. They can charge 10-50 USD for coaching services, 3-5 USD for wagers, and 1-3 USD for no wager games. During the high season, some hustlers can earn 100-300 USD while some can only have 10-30 USD.
I think a lot of people are also wondering about the answer to this question, chess hustlers seem to make a living out of their activity. It will now be revealed in this article!
Chess hustlers can earn around 20-50 dollars by only playing
There are many ways a chess hustler can earn their money since their job is not really that well-defined, it is likely coming from the visitors though.
If they are only playing wagers against visitors of whatever public space they occupy (which for most chess hustlers do) they will have a limited source of income.
The majority of chess hustlers will make around 20-50 dollars on a good day if their only source of income is playing against visitors.
It is important to note that this is only when the public space they want to target is full of visitors, it is not always the case though.
There are some occasions where there are not as many people due to seasonality, it is not rare for a hustler to earn 1-5 dollars the entire day including their loss games. There is a higher cap though if there are many visitors.
If there are many visitors, 20-50 dollars is a realistic goal, though I wouldn’t be surprised if a chess hustler can get lucky and shoot way more than that range. Though not a luxury, it is something.
Chess hustlers can go on negative if they lose a lot of games
Chess hustling that involves a lot of wager is extremely risky since you can actually lose some money, taking account of the hustler’s skill, it is not rare to lose 20 dollars just from losing games.
It is important to understand that this only happens when there are a lot of visitors since you are much more likely to lose the more that you play.
If it is off-season and there are not a lot of visitors the hustler obviously wouldn’t lose $20 unless the hustler is that bad in the game. Probably their total loss would be around 1-5 dollars at that point.
If it is in the on-season though the average earnings of a hustler would still be around 20-50 dollars already accounting for the loss, that is why the estimate is somewhat realistic. We need to understand that they can lose money too in this business.
Chess hustlers can earn 10-50 USD from coaching services
I have already talked about the potential earnings of a chess hustler if they are only relying on visitors as their main source of income, but what if they offer another form of service?
There are some chess hustlers out there that can offer coaching services for some 10-50 dollars per session, this is another source of income for chess hustlers.
In fact, the most lucrative chess hustlers out there will almost definitely offer some coaching lessons since it just earns away more than wager games. Plus it does not require you to carry risks too.
If you only play against visitors you are risking losing games and also losing money, if you offer a coaching service you will get the money with a guarantee.
Some chess hustlers will offer a little bit more than $50 per coaching session but this is the most common range. They can get an additional source of income from the 20-50 dollar range of only playing against visitors.
Of course they are not always teaching chess lessons since there are occasions where no one wants to purchase their coaching service, but it is something.
Chess hustlers can earn hundreds of dollars in wagers
There are visitors that challenge hustlers in big wager games, this is a great opportunity for a hustler to earn hundreds of dollars in a single day.
These are usually visitors that are drunk or just want to show off, this is a juicy target for chess hustlers that want to make money. There is a risk that is involved in this though.
If a wager gets too high there’s also a probability that the chess hustler can lose and have to pay money instead of earning it. This is why some hustlers would hesitate getting into something serious with the wagers.
However, some hustlers can easily earn around 100-300 dollars in a single day if they play enough of these high-stakes wager games. Then there’s the problem of estimating whether their opponent is actually a professional.
If their opponent is a titled player they will most likely lose, which is why it is important to identify which visitors they can afford to play.
Luckily, if their opponent is actually a professional there are some occasions where they wouldn’t accept wager money since it destroys the sanctity of chess.
Chess hustlers can earn 1-3 USD per game on no wager games
Some chess hustlers out there charge money for no-wager games (basically you pay whether you win or lose) and this is a more consistent source of income even though they may not earn as much.
This is pretty interesting, this way, there is no chance that the chess hustler is going to lose any money since it is not a wagering structure. However, they are likely to not earn as much though.
I am not sure about the numbers of this format, but it is likely that they are earning around 20-30 dollars in a single day if there are a lot of visitors.
There definitely is a lower-income potential if it is not done in wager format since not many people are willing to pay someone just to play with them.
But there are some out there that are willing to pay just for the experience of playing against a hustler.
Chess hustlers can act for influencers and earn 20-50 USD
There are some influencers that play against chess hustlers that are more or less scripted, hustlers can make money out of their acting.
Sometimes they make money out of this (around 20-50 dollars) and sometimes they get none at all.
The existence of chess influencers opens up an opportunity for chess hustlers to gain extra money for some little work. Basically, some influencers hire these hustlers to act on a video.
Most likely you are going to get paid, however, there are instances where some hustlers are willing to participate just for the honor of being on the internet.
If you are going to get paid though, it is likely that it is on the 20-50 dollars spectrum. The disadvantage of this is, of course, it doesn’t happen all the time. It is pretty rare to be hired for something like this actually.
Chess hustlers can go in debt
Some people underestimate the risk involved in chess hustling, it is possible to go on the negative if you lose enough games. This is common for beginner hustlers.
This is pretty unlikely though if the chess hustler knows how to pick their opponents, although it can happen in some instances.
This is why it is important for chess hustlers to master their game since they can actually go into debt if they lose games. If they are going to go into debt it is likely on the lower dollar amount, some negative 1-10 dollars
Chess hustlers earnings can go down based on seasonality
Seasonality is a huge factor in determining how much chess hustlers make, if there are not a lot of visitors then it is not rare for a hustler to not earn anything.
There are many explanations for seasonality, maybe a particular public area does not have as many people since there are no classes, something like that.
This means that there are certain times of the year where chess hustlers do not earn as much, probably some 1-10 dollars a day. No visitors means no wager games, nor potential customers for coaching lessons.
Chess hustlers from developing countries earn less
We need to consider the country in which the chess hustling actually occurs. Hustlers from my place for example are already lucky to earn some 6-8 dollars in a single day.
This is because of the conversion rate, a dollar in our country is already significant enough to get someone a full meal if they are smart enough. 6-8 dollars is already sizable money for a single day.
Visitors of certain countries won’t be willing to wager as much in their games, therefore, leading to lower earning potential. In places around the United States though the numbers above apply.
Chess hustlers earnings will depend on skill
We have to understand that chess hustling is also another form of business, there is competition.
A really good hustler on an extremely good day can even make 400 dollars (or even more), but others barely get any money at all.
It is not like there’s only one chess hustler in a given place, it is likely that there are a couple competing for the same potential visitors. This means that marketing skills and chess skills will have to work side by side.
If a hustler has a really good reputation and everyone wants to play with them, plus buy their coaching services, then they definitely will earn a lot on any given day.
Some chess hustlers on the other hand especially those who are just starting will almost not earn anything, and they likely are not that good at the game at first. Some 1-10 dollars is already lucky for these people.
When we say some really big numbers in the popular media, it is easy to think that chess hustlers are just banking on it and are living a fun, easy life.
Reality is often disappointing though, it is in fact hard to live the life of a hustler. You need to be extremely skilled both in the way that you play, but also in how to market yourself. You need a reputation to get sizable earnings.
And even those huge numbers that hustlers have shown in some news outlets are usually one-shot money breaks, something that doesn’t occur often.
However, this just brings a good perspective on how difficult of a life these people are currently living. So be nice to them even if they are rude sometimes, sleep well and play chess.