Making Money From Playing Bridge

Making Money From Playing Bridge

Edited by Jude Goodwin © Great Bridge Links 2024

Bridge is a game with a dedicated following and offers numerous opportunities to earn money. Bridge clubs and tournaments are held worldwide, supported by educational resources such as newspaper columns, books, and classes. Making money from bridge is actually pretty easy because there are many ways to do it. Skilled players can win prize money in tournaments, secure sponsorships, teach others, write books, or contribute to bridge publications. Other players might direct, or even caddy. Here are nine different ways to turn your bridge expertise into income.

How To Make Money Playing Bridge

If you’re good at card games, and can hold your own at a poker table, it is possible to make money playing at the best online poker sites USA. They offer prize money tournaments as well as cash games that pit you against other real-money players. 

But, while there are many opportunities for poker and black jack players, bridge players have fewer online cash games on offer. Bridge is slower and is played without a dealer, which minimizes the profit opportunity for casinos, so fewer physical and online gambling houses offer the trick-taking game. 

Because of the lack of online cash bridge games, you might need to diversify from actually playing the game. But let’s start with Prize Money –

1. Win Prize Money

While online cash games are rare, there are physical cash games and tournaments that take place around the world. These work similarly to other card game tournaments. Players buy into the game and a portion of that money goes into a prize pot. Typically, prizes are awarded to the pairs that place in the top two or three positions. Depending on the size and popularity of the games, prize money can range from a few dollars up to hundreds of thousands of dollars, although most fall on the lower end of that scale. Some online platforms offer similar tournaments. Some examples are:

HCL International Bridge Championship: This annual tournament will be held in 2024 from September 14 to September 22, in New Delhi, India. It is one of the highest prize money bridge tournaments worldwide, with a total prize pool of ₹27 million (approximately USD 325,000). Events include Team of Four, Open Pairs, and a ProAm IMP Pairs event​ (HCL Bridge)​.

Marit Sveaas International Bridge Tournament: This tournament has a total prize pool of approximately €120,000 for 2024. The prize structure includes substantial amounts for top finishers in various categories, such as mixed, ladies, and seniors pairs​ (MSIBT)​.

Bermuda Regional Bridge Tournament: Held in January/February each year, this tournament also offers significant prizes. It is a well-known event in the bridge community, drawing participants from around the world​ (BridgeScanner)​.

2. Get Sponsored

At major tournaments and even some local games, you will often find a combination of wealthy “amateur” players and sponsored professional players. A wealthy player pays a professional bridge player to be their partner, giving them the kudos of having a strong partner and improving their chance of winning games. At local events, sponsorship might only amount to $150 for a three-hour tournament, but with the right sponsor and at the right tournament, a player can be paid thousands of dollars a day. 

It is even possible to attract sponsorship retainers. This means that you are essentially paid a salary, and while you will need to play when called upon, you still get paid even if there aren’t any suitable games taking place. It offers a guaranteed income, but this kind of deal is typically reserved for the very best players with a track record of winning major tournaments. It also means that if you do win, you might get a cut of the prize money, but most will be paid to the sponsor.

Many successful sponsored, or professional players, play as part of a team on the World Bridge stage. Four famous sponsored bridge teams are:

  1. Lavazza: The Lavazza bridge team, sponsored by the Italian coffee company Lavazza, is one of the most well-known teams in the world. The team has won numerous international championships and is recognized for its high level of skill and consistent performance.
  2. Zimmermann: Sponsored by Swiss businessman Pierre Zimmermann, this team has achieved significant success in various international tournaments. Zimmermann’s team often includes top players from different countries and has been a dominant force in the bridge community.
  3. Gillis: Sponsored by Scottish businessman Paul Hackett and named after his wife Gillis, the team consists of several world-class players. They have competed successfully in various European and world championships.
  4. Nickell: The Nickell team, sponsored by American businessman Nick Nickell, is one of the most successful bridge teams in history. They have won multiple North American Bridge Championships and world titles, and the team includes some of the best players in the game.


Other Ways To Make Money at Bridge

3. Get Paid To Teach Others

If you do have a track record of winning, less experienced and less successful players might be willing to pay to learn from you. This will usually involve teaching players at their home, while also taking part in some games to help their partnership play. Or your local bridge club might offer you space to teach a class as it’s in their best interest to encourage new players. Again, the best money is reserved for the best players, and if you can show that you have taught other successful players, or that you have a good tournament record and ranking, this will improve your earnings.

Becoming a bridge teacher requires a certain amount of training and education. There are some excellent courses offered, and a wealth of material online. In North America, teachers are certified through the ACBL and the American Bridge Teachers Association (ABTA). The ACBL Also offers a Teaching Online certification course.

You can find a wealth of Teaching Bridge Resources on our Bridge Teacher pages here. But our highest recommendation goes to Audrey Grant’s Better Bridge programs.

4. Write Books

Whether your thing is card combination statistics and odds, inventing new bidding systems, or mastering the play of the cards, you could make money from writing bridge books. Bridge is a popular game around the world including in the U.S., Europe, and China, which means there are publishing opportunities in these countries. There are two ways to publish bridge books.

  • Get A Publisher – If you have the expertise and already have a name in the world of bridge, you might be able to get a publisher. This can mean that you get advances on royalties and the publisher will help market your book. But, you will need to find a publisher that knows the market and sees the value in what you want to publish. The most prominent bridge book publishers in North America are Baron Barclay Bridge and Master Point Press.
  • Self-Publish – Alternatively, you can self-publish. Self-publishing means that you pay the costs of publishing and you market the book yourself, but you keep a greater percentage of the profits. As well as being able to self-publish physical copies of books, you could write ebooks and sell them on platforms like Amazon. Self-publication tends to work best for those who have social media followers with an interest in the topic they are publishing about. We recommend LuLu Publishing for self-publishing your bridge book. And then send Great Bridge Links a review copy!

5. Become A Bridge Columnist (or cartoonist, or journalist, or …)

Players love to read about bridge, whether it is what is happening in the latest tournaments, or tips on how to play. And, there are some newspapers that not only publish columns but also post bridge puzzles for their readers to try and solve. Get some samples of columns or puzzles ready, find publications that have a history of publishing bridge-related pieces, and submit a query. You can read what others are publishing on our Coffee Break page here.

Years ago, I decided I wanted to publish a bridge cartoon strip. I approached the ACBL Bulletin (monthly magazine) and got a very nice reply from then editor Henry Francis who loved the cartoons. That began a fun few decades of cartoons and books!

Bridge Daily Bulletins and bridge magazines are always looking for writers and material. So don’t be shy. Send your ideas out there!

6. Become A Social Media Influencer

You don’t have to physically teach people on a one-to-one basis to earn money from teaching bridge. Start posting videos or articles on social media platforms and attract potential bridge players. Consider live-streaming on Twitch or other streaming platform. Once you have a following, you can monetize your videos or even place sponsored advertisements in your posts to earn revenue.

Note, however, this is not the quickest and easiest way to make earn money. Best to use your socials to augment and enhance your other business activities – your teaching and your books.

7. Become a Director

Bridge tournaments need directors. If you enjoy people of all sorts, and enjoy being out in the crowd, this might be the job for you. There’s training for the various levels, typically you start at the Club level and work your way up. Bridge Directors don’t play, the oversee the games like referees. A Director needs to know the rules and be comfortable assessing blame and assigning penalties if required. But most of the job involves helping rather than penalizing. Tournament and National Directors travel a lot too which some people might like. Here is a recap of the different levels in the ACBL and typical pay.

  • Club Director: Pay can range from $50 to $100 per session, depending on the location, size of the game, and the club’s budget. Some directors may work on a volunteer basis or receive a nominal fee for their services.
  • Local Director: Earnings may increase with experience and the ability to run larger club games or local tournaments, potentially earning $100 to $200 per session.
  • Tournament Director: Pay varies widely based on the size and prestige of the event. Directors at regional tournaments can earn $200 to $500 per day. Larger national tournaments may offer higher daily rates plus expenses.
  • National Tournament Director: Directors at this level are often salaried employees of organizations like the ACBL. Their pay can range from $50,000 to $100,000 per year, depending on experience and the number of events managed.

The demand for bridge directors is steady, with opportunities for advancement as the popularity of the game and the number of tournaments grow.

8. Be a caddy

Bridge Tournaments need directors, but they also need caddys. These are people who help move boards, assist the director, help with setting up and cleaning up, and other tasks. Typically, caddys are teenagers but adults are welcome to do the work as well. The pay isn’t that much, maybe $50-100 per day. The day can be boring, but again, if your teen likes people, and likes games, they’ll enjoy the work. There’s usually a meal involved, there’ll be other caddys to get to know and hang out with, and if a person is looking to network in the world of bridge, this is a good opportunity. To look into work as a caddy in your region, contact the local bridge organization and enquire.

9. Set Up A Bridge Website

It does take time to build a following, but you can also use a social media following to promote your own website. Having your own website means you can promote all of your services. You can sell bridge-related items with affiliate deals, offer coaching courses, and have paid advertisements. If you self-publish a book on bridge, you can even promote this through your site and your social media profiles. And finally, you can set up a niche blog – like Great Bridge Links – and eventually monetize it.

Setting up a website during these modern times is easier than it has ever been. We recommend Squarespace and if you’re looking for a builder, we recommend Goodwin Creative Ltd. They build websites for clients around the world. Expect to invest 2-3K for a really useful, SEO optimized and successful website that you will be able to manage and update yourself.

Take it to the bank

There are so many ways to make money from your love of bridge, we hope this article has given you some ideas. And we’ve only given you 9 suggestions. There are more. Regional and national tournaments need daily bulletins. Most online bridge platforms need employees. The advent of AI has great potential in all realms including bridge – learning to become an AI content creator will open doors for sure.

Editor of this article, and this website, Jude Goodwin, has earned a living from bridge for over 35 years. Originally she created layouts for local bridge magazines, then created her bridge cartoons, published a couple of bridge books, and started her bridge website(s) in 1995. Today most of her work involves writing and editing articles for her three niche blogs.

“The opportunities for earning a living with bridge are always there,” Jude advises. “Start small and work your way up. Teach one or two people, or direct at a local club, or caddy at a tournament, or write a few articles and send them into your unit newsletter. Begin with free social media platforms, pitch ideas to publishers, look around, see what others are doing. Eventually you’ll get there!”