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The Reform of a Problem Gambler

This is the last part of my interview with DM, who is no longer a problem gambler…

Beware of false beliefs; only knowledge is power

SW: “Did you make any strategy breakthroughs with your football betting?”

DM: “Yes, with internet betting I began hedging bets, finding the best odds to ‘Dutch’ back two of the three 1×2 events, rather than putting everything ‘on the nose’. But ‘Dutch’ backing and losing both bets was soul destroying – a real fast way to lose large amounts of money.”

“I would also choose a list of games being played on different days and put them into an accumulator so that I could ‘cover’ each leg of the bet with even more money for some insurance. But without any staking strategy I was doomed from the start.”

“I didn’t really get into Betfair until around 2008-09, but it quickly became the next big distraction, eating my time, going ’round in circles. For every two steps forward I made, I soon slipped two steps back again. Betfair was a game of ‘Snakes and Ladders’ for a good year before I became acquainted with it and was finally able to lock in guaranteed profits.”

SW: “How much do you think you have lost on gambling in the last 25 years?”

DM: “I think if you put that question to any gambler, they will under-estimate, probably out of embarrassment, or as an act of self-preservation.”

[sighs] “Conservatively speaking I would say my cumulative losses are a minimum of £10,000. However, it is probably double that when you consider the additional costs such as pub visits, travel, computer equipment, internet connection, etc. Over 25 years, factoring in the value of money through the years, I’ve probably lost a year’s salary or more to most people. My turnover was certainly in excess of £500,000 – a lot of bets for nothing.”

“When I think about it, the most devastating thing is the time I wasted. Looking back, I deeply regret having spent so much time listening to matches, watching matches, listening to radio phone-ins, studying form and team-news, plus the whole breed of related activities that go with following football in order to put you in a position where you think you can gamble successfully.”

“I can replace the lost money but I’ve lost the time forever. When I began reading your blog, the time factor you mentioned in one of your articles was one of the things that finally convinced me to stop gambling altogether.”

SW: “So you have stopped football betting?”

DM: “Well, a leopard can’t change its spots. I do some matched betting to cash bookmaker bonuses every now and again because that’s purely a routine maths exercise – I don’t need to know anything about the teams involved and it’s a way of making guaranteed profit. I’m a winner at last, but it’s only beer money. I suppose matched betting is like addressing a drinking problem with alcohol free beer! But even these occasions are few and far between now.”

“I still watch games but not as many and not as obsessively as before, and it has become a much more pleasant experience without the pressure of having to bet.”

SW: “Do you think it takes a certain type of personality to be affected by gambling?”

DM: “No – I am sure it affects people from all walks of life. I spent seven years at the top grammar school in my county. I’ve had a fairly successful career in financial services. Intelligence and free access to larger sums of money do not help. It just makes it easier to find more and more adventurous ways of losing money, getting it back, and then losing it again.”

“I was just very, very lucky not to get into any more trouble than I did with gambling. You hear horror stories about people losing their homes, their businesses, their lives, to gambling – people who wind up in prison for having embezzled fortunes from their employers just to fund their habit or pay their gambling debts. None of this happened to me but I am just as affected by my gambling experience as anyone else, perhaps just in a different way. I sympathise greatly with others who have not been so lucky.”

SW: “What advice would you give to anyone with a gambling addiction problem?”

DM: “Get help. Talk to someone. Or help yourself. Put it into perspective. I gambled through boredom on a game I have loved since I was a kid. I thought I knew everything there was to know about football but sadly that doesn’t necessarily make a good gambler.”

“I had no idea about the importance of football odds, staking plans, probabilities, or how to use statistics properly. If you want to be a good football gambler then it is probably better not to know anything about the game at all but concentrate on the business end.”

“I was a naturally shy person and used gambling as an escape from a life I was too timid to improve. I’m still shy. Betting made me feel big. If I had used the same time to make my life more interesting by learning a new skill or hobby I wouldn’t have the regrets I have now. It’s like having served a 25-year prison term – I still carry the mental scars.”

“Even now, I overhear people in pubs bragging about their gambling victories, but funnily enough you never hear them talking about their losses. It’s always about who caught the biggest fish. All gamblers are in denial to some extent.”

SW: “How would you sum up your gambling experience?”

DM: “I was the bookmaker’s best friend.”

“Football betting has nothing to do with the sport of football. Football is a professional business with a lot of statistics, and like any business, only one man gets to the top. You’re either a bookmaker with an empire, or just another ’employee’ who never makes it. I mean, would you pay your employer for 25 years to work for him?”

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

Last Update: 23 August 2013

Categories:Obsession Responsible Gambling

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