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The Birth of a Problem Gambler


I recently caught up with an old friend of ours who used to passionately follow EPL football and bet on matches hoping to make a fortune. He staked ‘real’ money. Sometimes a lot of it!

We had a great chat, which he allowed me to record. He now calls himself a “reformed gambler”, and has actually stopped betting. Of course, he still watches the matches, but for pure enjoyment and not with the false belief of becoming rich at the same time.

It took him a long time to realise that he was suffering from gambling addiction. Naturally, I questioned him deeply about his compulsion.

The following interview is a real life insight into the mind of a gambling addict.

Don’t be scared… However, there is a chance that you may recognise yourself in some of his statements…

Winning your First Bet is a Guarantee of More to Follow!


SW: “How and when did you begin football betting?”

DM: “It all began waiting at a bus stop next to a bookmaker shop every night on the way home from school. One day, a friend and I went in and got a fixed odds coupon and, although we were underage at only 17, began betting every so often. Not much, 50p here and there, and never more than a pound.”

“However, it took off after I got my first job with more money in my pocket. I was 19 when five of us chipped in a couple of pounds each and placed a five-fold accumulator, the minimum you could do in those days when including any home win. Unfortunately, looking back, the worst thing that could have happened, happened, and the bet won. It was the day Manchester City beat Huddersfield 10-1 at home, so it sticks in the memory.” [SW: 7th November, 1987].

SW: “How would you describe your understanding of football odds in those days?”

DM: “Absolutely non-existent; we were all totally naïve. With that first bet, none of us could even work out in advance what the winnings would be, so I was shocked when I cashed in the slip and received over £75 – it was a lot of money back then – in comparison my monthly salary was only £350, and suddenly, our collective eyes had pound signs in them.”

“It was the one and only five-fold accumulator bet I ever won!”

SW: “How influenced were your football betting decisions by being a fan?”

DM: “Oh, hugely. I would spend hours reading recent match reports, watching highlights programmes, checking on injured players and suspensions, and getting the most up-to-date pre-match information I could by listening to radio sports channels in the days and hours leading up to kick-off time. It was a science for me!”

“I would then choose an arbitrary stake for my selections and run down the road to the local shop – my pulse rate would be up before settling down to follow my games at home on the radio. It was a real buzz.”

SW: “Did you connect football odds with the probabilities of success they indicated?”

DM: “Not really…No, I had no idea. I would be put off from selecting events with higher prices because in my mind they indicated more unlikely outcomes.”

“For a long time I continued to bet on either team winning the match without any concern for the draw. I think my football betting was dictated by what I hoped would happen, rather than what was more likely to happen.”

“I ended up backing favourites mostly, because the shorter odds indicated to me that they had a better chance of winning, and in the early days I only used to bet on a few teams I thought I could trust; you know, the usual suspects, Man U, Chelsea, Arsenal, Liverpool, the favourites in most matches they played. Any accumulator bet I placed usually included some or all of these teams.”

“Also, I always backed the team I supported whenever I selected them and would never bet against them, purely because I wanted them to win.”

“Football odds to me indicated purely what the bookmakers were prepared to pay you if you won the bet. It never crossed my mind to query this notion.”

Read the whole interview:
Part 1: The Birth of a Problem Gambler
Part 2: The Mind of a Problem Gambler
Part 3: The Pride of a Problem Gambler
Part 4: The Rise of a Problem Gambler
Part 5: The Reform of a Problem Gambler


learn to think like a bookmaker!
deciphering bookmaker mathematics

Last Update: 24 August 2013

Categories:Obsession Responsible Gambling



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