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The Rise of a Problem Gambler

This is Part 4 of our interview with DM, a self-confessed problem gambler… Despite winning 75-80% of his bets my friend hardly survived the first half of any betting season. Terms such as staking plan, portfolio strategy, specialising, and paper testing were completely alien to him.

The stakes gradually grew larger and larger per bet, and the introduction of internet bookmakers ultimately led to DM losing touch with reality. Losses were even easier to chase, and the illusion of being a ‘master gambler’ increased.

False perception of own skills ultimately leads to self-deception.

SW: “About consistency, what was your typical hit-rate; what was your staking plan?”

DM: “Staking plan?? I had none. I would stake to win certain amounts I would be happy with.”

“My success rate was pretty good – I would win three of every four bets, but I had little to show for it because my mindset was that the profit from the first three bets was ‘free money’ and I would then put all the winnings on a fourth bet and undo all the good work.”

“With hindsight, the number of times I placed my whole pot like this on a single result is incredible to think about. It was ludicrous.”

SW: “Did you have any discipline at all?”

DM: “The only thing I would do before internet gambling really took off was to start every new season with £250 and stick to it. If I lost it all then my betting season would be over. In the early days, every season followed the same pattern – the opening few weeks would go really well, but I never made it to Christmas without having lost my whole pot.

“Looking at your 10 Commandments article, I think I was guilty of breaking every one of those rules, persistently, and when internet betting came calling, things really started to get out of hand.”

SW: “What impact did internet betting have on your habit?”

DM: “It made it much easier to lose money! I wouldn’t have to leave home to visit a shop. With hard cash in your hand you tend to budget a little better, save some for next time, but when it’s all electronic numbers, you lose touch with reality. It became even easier to chase losses.”

“There were so many different bookmakers to choose from, not just my three local shops, so looking around for the best price added to the illusion that the whole process was a science. I had accounts with over 50 online bookmakers. Suddenly you could bet on any game worldwide. The only positive thing to come out of computerised betting was that I began keeping records of all my bets for the very first time.”

SW: “What was your worst betting experience?”

DM: “World Cup. 2006. I’d made a few quid betting with £50 and £100 stakes on the opening few games and thought, “this is easy”.

“Next match, Italy v USA. I’d never bet four figures before and I ended up sticking £2,500 on Italy to win around £1,000. Italy scored first but USA replied almost immediately. Then Italy had a man sent-off and had to hang on for the draw. I was absolutely gutted. Never lost so much in one bet before.”

“The old instincts kicked-in and I spent a restless night figuring out how to get the money back as quickly as possible.”

“Two days later, I raped my credit card again and put £8,500 on Spain to beat Tunisia. I was absolutely convinced I couldn’t lose. I’d gone from my first four figure bet to one of almost five figures overnight just to recover a lost bet. Spain went 1-0 down early in the game and the next 75 minutes was the worst agony you can imagine. I suffered a thousand deaths and was almost physically sick. Honestly, it was worse than hearing about the death of a relative.”

“I had 75 minutes’ thinking time, working out how long it would take me to pay back my £11,000 credit card debt, realising I was literally on trial with a potential sentence of two years hanging over my head. Two years to pay back what it had taken me minutes to lose. I felt what it must be have been like in front of a hanging judge.”

“With only 19 minutes to go, Spain equalised, and five minutes later, Fernando Torres put them ahead. My heart was almost breaking through my chest at this point. Spain eventually won 3-1, and I swear I could hear the gods above me applauding my good fortune. I vowed never to bet big again.”

“A few days later, I put £3,000 on Brazil to beat Ghana. I just couldn’t stop. I turned over almost £25,000 in that tournament and finished with less than £500 profit – but after that, I never wagered so big on one result again. It frightened the life out of me.”

SW: “What was your best betting experience?”

DM: “Every bet I ever won…”

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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