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The Mind of a Problem Gambler


This is Part 2 of my interview with DM, a self-confessed problem gambler… I have to admit that although it was hugely interesting to dive so deep into the mindset of a hardcore gambler, it was also a little harrowing.

He undoubtedly considered himself extremely knowledgeable about the game of football when selecting matches to bet on. However, essential skills such as calculating statistical probabilities and connecting them with the odds offered in the market were hardly considered at all.

If a bet went wrong DM put it down to matchday events such as poor refereeing decisions, missed opportunities, star players out through injury, etc.

It seemed to him far more rewarding to work out winnings in advance, and also to permutate bets in the hope of even higher potential returns, despite the fact he was losing regular sums of money.

Determined beliefs stick even when evidently fruitless

SW: “What role did luck and chance play in your betting results?”

DM: “I always thought I was highly skilled and deserved to win due to the amount of time I spent analysing the matches. Even if the winning goal came in the 95th minute off the referee’s backside, I would put the rewards down to my hard work.”

“But when you win a few bets in a row, you become over-confident and take more risks, and when things go against you, being ‘unlucky’ is an excuse you readily use. It’s crazy, really, how you kid yourself when you lose – it’s never your own fault – it was the referee’s for not giving a blatant penalty, or the striker’s for missing an open goal.”

SW: “Which betting markets/types did you prefer?”

DM: “Accumulator bets were all you could do in the old days before betting became tax free in the UK: minimum of five selections with a home win included, three without. Then the EPL came along and with it Sky TV coverage, and gradually the bookies relaxed their limitations and allowed you to place single bets on matches.”

“I was still doing doubles and trebles, and I experimented with permutations for a while, but stuck mainly to singles through the late 1990’s and into the 2000’s.”

SW: “Why did you like accumulator bets?”

DM: “Of course, after that first bet, I learned how to work out the winnings in advance and by combining the odds of matches, the rewards were far greater. Looking back, I suppose it was just basic greed – I was chasing the big numbers.”

SW: “Did you ever think your chances of winning were lower with accumulator bets?”

DM: “To some degree, yes. I mean selecting one result from the 1×2 options for three games in a treble still gave me a basic one-in-three chance of succeeding in each game, or so I thought. I just didn’t know my thinking was flawed or, that my complete lack of odds calculation knowledge prevented me from thinking about things such as overround, which I have learned since from your site.

SW: “How would you feel when you lost a bet?”

DM: “It’s human nature I suppose, but when something bad happens in any part of your life, you tend to want to make amends, put it back the way it was, or make things better as soon as possible.”

“My immediate reaction would be to rush into another bet in order to win back what I had lost, staking it to make a little profit on top for my troubles.”

“If it was a Saturday afternoon and I had lost money on the 3pm kick-offs, I would be ready to run down the road before the shop closed to place a bet on the 5.30 game. Of course, there was no preparation time and more often than not, these bets were all based on gut feeling. Usually, this later game would be televised, so I would go and watch it in the local pub after I had placed my bet.”

SW: “And how did you feel if you lost this bet too?”

DM: “Depressed. Very low. Losing twice in a day was always bad. You get home from the pub, perhaps a little drunk, and realise how much you have lost, how little you’ve achieved in your day off, and the icing on the cake was of course the money you had also just wasted in the pub. You curse yourself.”

“You then go out again and waste even more money on a Chinese take-away or something, just to make yourself feel better. And then later, watch ‘Match of the Day’ to justify that it wasn’t your fault you lost – just a dodgy off-side goal or a missed penalty, or even poor team selection by the manager which let you down.”

“You make mental notes after the event and vow to avoid certain situations next time, but you never do – you just carry on making the same mistakes because you’re a football fan, not a professional gambler. You can’t see the wood for the trees.”

“But recovery was always quick for me and I would soon be excitedly counting down the days until I could bet again to redeem myself. The process of moving from despair to hope was almost like being reborn each time.”

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: 23 August 2013

Categories:Obsession Responsible Gambling



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