Over: My Quest to Conquer a Gambling Addiction
is some strong language in this article
to some personal issues I've been pretty silent
on here lately. I had kept the source of these
issues personal for a long time, but finally realized
that speaking out about them might be the best
way to help myself.
I'd like to share something I recently
posted on a message board that I frequent. I know
there are a lot of aspiring young internet poker
players looking to go pro, probably even some
of you that are reading this right now. I've thought
about it a time or two myself. If you feel like
you are gifted with the talent to do so best of
luck to you and I hope you tear them up. But please,
make sure your head is in the right spot. Being
a professional poker player takes an insane amount
of discipline and I have recently found that I
just do not have it right now. Luckily I didn't
put all my eggs in one basket so to speak, and
the best advice I can give is to always have a
fallback plan. If you were to ask me the number one piece of advice to give someone wanting to
go pro, it is to expect the unexpected. Regardless
of how good you are, have some way to take care
of yourself and your family, if applicable, if
something goes wrong. If you are working on getting
your education stick with it. You can go part-time
if you need to make sure you get enough table
hours in. Keep an up-to-date resume. Keep a rainy-day
fund somewhere where you don't have immediate
access to it, don't try to go above and beyond
your limits, and find constructive outputs for
Before I start I want to warn you
that this is going to be long. Probably really
long. I don't care if you read it. I need something
to promote personal accountability and hopefully
this post will help. If you read it, I don't care
about having sympathy and I don't care if you
make fun of me or call me a dumbass. I completely
deserve it. I haven't really talked much about
any of this before except to a limited amount
to one or two friends. Some may have suspected
it too, I don't know. Here we go:
Texter showed me an interesting
link the other day to a blog entitled "How
I ruined my life" or something like that.
I read that blog word for word. At first I felt
sorry for but then realized it was his
own damn fault for being a dumbass. And then I
I have never really needed money
to be happy. I grew up in a middle class family,
but with 8 kids we were always tight on money.
I learned how to live cheap but happy by watching
my Mom and I think it is one of the best lessons
I have learned in life. I don't care about having
new cars. I don't get steak when I go out to eat.
I love good beer but will often only keep Keystone
at the house. In general, I go through my every
day expenditures trying to find places to cut
costs without sacrificing enjoyment. This isn't
to say that I don't like money. I like *having*
money, but whether I have $10 or $1000 in my wallet
I usually don't let it influence my decisions
because I am a cheap person by nature.
Except when it comes to gambling.
I have always liked gambling. When
we had off-campus lunch in high school we would
go drink beer and play dice or cards a few times
a week at my brother's house that I had a key
to. I worked my ass off in high school and had
a decent amount of my own money, and while it
would kill me to spend more than 5 bucks in a
meal for some reason it wouldn't faze me to turn
over $100-$200 over lunch to my buddies (although
I won often enough to keep it in balance).
I came to Texas A&M with a full ride, but
laziness and apathy towards school managed to
change that after the first year. I got my act
together and worked my way through school the
rest of the time and made pretty damn good grades
my junior and senior year. I had to take out a
few loans along the way, but they were Stafford
subsidized which aren't bad at all since interest
doesn't accumulate until after you graduate and
the rate is still pretty low even then.
After I turned 21 I would head to Shreveport or
Las Vegas a few times a year. I had plenty of
gamble in me, but was able to limit my losses
and even won a few times. I don't think during
this period I had a problem, but the same thing
still applied where if I let $300 bucks go I didn't
look at it as a rent payment or 6 weeks of food
even though I was a pretty poor college student.
I don't really consider poker gambling. I feel
that I am pretty good at it and over the long
run will make money. For the past 12 months I
am in five-figure profit from poker which isn't
too shabby. The following will detail the winning
of this money and the subsequent losing of it
in other venues.
A little less than a year ago I
first heard about Bodog. I liked their bonus and
deposited $500, which was quite a bit more than
I had ever bought into an online poker site for.
I did pretty good awhile playing 3-6 and got up
to around $800 after a couple of weeks. I headed
to their sports book one day looking to make a
college football bet and decided to just see what
the casino was like while I was at it. I put $50
in craps and played with it for awhile but wound
up losing it all. Then I tried another $100. Then
another. I got down to about $150, put it all
in, and luck-bagged my way back up to around $900.
After about another week I was up to around $1200
off more poker and a small amount of craps. I
moved up to 5/10 and was still doing good, and
kept mixing a craps game here or there and luckily
was winning on them. When I got to $2000 I moved
to 10/20. Still doing good I tried 20/40 after
another few hundred bucks. Hit a sorry streak
of cards at 20/40 that knocked me back down to
around $1500. This is the first time I turned
to craps after on tilt. I found a betting system
I like in craps (not a "system" in the
true sense of gambling systems, basically just
a betting pattern that I use when on hot streaks)
and had a crazy roll to get up to a little over
$3k. I decided to try out video poker to play
with the excess over $3k that I had. Playing $1
with maximum credits of $5, so $5 a roll, I wound
up hitting 4 deuces on deuces wild which paid
off $1k. At $4000 I started playing 20/40 and
30/60 limit exclusively on bodog, and kept the
craps going while still having my hot streak.
By the end of December my bankroll was near $11000.
Doing some recent reading I found
that for most problem gamblers, the "problem"
part doesn't set in until after they have had
a big score. Man were they right.
Fed up with the lack of selection
of big games on Bodog, I decided to move my poker
efforts to PokerStars in January. I had moved
$1500 I think into PokerStars, cashed out about
$5000, and kept the mix of the remaining amount
I had in a mixture of Bodog and Neteller. Some
early results in the 30/60 can be found on a previous
post by me on this board, but in short I did pretty
good for awhile. I found I really enjoyed 30/60
short handed and was doing great heads up. One
day I hit a shitty run of cards on PokerStars
and got my ass reamed in a 30/60 heads up game
against a phenomenal player. I lost 2 buy-ins
(about $3k) to him and that pretty much decimated
my PokerStars bankroll to a point where I couldn't
play the 30/60 without reloading (which I didn't
do at the time). I took my tilt to the craps table
and lost all of my Bodog money in the same day.
No problem, I still had $5000 in
the bank. A sensible person probably would call
it quits here, but thinking of all the big hits
I had on Bodog I decided to deposit more. I started
depositing, and losing, my money in $500 increments.
Didn't take long to hit the $2k max cap at Bodog.
Once you do $2000 from your checking account,
they won't let you deposit any more from it for
two weeks. I went to Sportsbook.com and for the
first time used my credit card. I quickly capped
their $1000 max buy-in/24hr rule and lost that.
Found two other sites in the Sportsbook.com family
and did the same on those. Within a week I had
lost all of my winnings and told my self to settle
down a bit. It would be the first time of many
that I went from huge bankrolls to broke this
I played some poker off and on,
but I kept getting the itch for the craps again.
Sometime in February I got back onto bodog and
started depositing in sets of $100. I was $900
in the hole and on pretty much the last $100 that
I could afford when I hit another hot streak.
Within a week I was at over $15k. Good times.
I broke my habit of being cheap and booked a spring
break vacation for my girlfriend and I to London
and Edinburgh. Things were looking great and I
continued making a little money. About a week
before we left I went out with some friends and
got shit-faced. I came home and started playing
some craps. From 2am till about 7am I played and
burned through $14k. Oh shit. Here I am about
a week from going on the biggest vacation of my
life and I am just about broke again. The trip
was already paid for, but I had pretty much no
spending money. I did the only thing I could think
of: Play some more. Bodog gives really good cash
comps when you play a lot of money on their online
casino and they hit a day or two after you stop
playing. Knowing that I had probably a large amount
of money coming, I used Neteller instacash to
buy some more to try to make up some of the money
I lost with the thought that I could cash out
of Bodog in time for the London trip. I got into
a huge clusterfuck this time. The way the situation
turned out was: I received $1300 in comps from
Bodog and immediately ordered a cashout to Neteller.
Neteller gave me an insufficient funds from my
bank on the additional money I pulled to gamble.
I find all this out after I have landed in London.
I have to wait for a few days for Neteller to
release any of the money while the NSF is cleared
up. I run out of cash pretty quickly in London,
and have to bum off of my g/f, but thought it
would be okay because I can use my Neteller debit
card as soon as they let me have the money. Halfway
through the trip the stuff with Neteller is cleared
up, and they just take the NSF amount away from
the $1300. Then I find out that I can't use my
Neteller debit card in the US. FUCK. Thanks for
making that clear during the sign up process,
Neteller, when you say the debit card can be used
I dabbled in some online poker some
more on a low bankroll over the next few weeks.
By the end of the spring semester I figured that
I had enough money to try my luck at craps again.
Hit another hot streak, and made another $11k
or so. I said that this time I would make a serious
concentration on poker again. I started scoring
pretty big. I won over $6k in multi-table tournaments
in June and July and some extra on cash games.
I was having a good time. I paid off my credit
card debt with the excess money and things were
looking bright. I played a little craps on sportsbook.com
and related sites and was off in on with no bad
streaks or good streaks.
I found the site www.galaxiworld.com. They have
a single deck blackjack game that has about a
0.3% player advantage if you play optimal strategy.
I put some money in there just to play blackjack
on the side a little bit. In a shocking move,
I decided to try out their craps table too. I
lost a lot of money. A LOT. Instead of calling
it quits, I kept going. Down to my last $1000
in my online stuff I was playing large bets on
the table. Next thing I know I am at $25k. I book
a Vegas trip and life is good for a day, until
I manage to lose the $25k playing 100 bets with
200 odds. No problem, as I had stored enough away
in my bank account to still let me go to vegas
and some in my poker accounts too. I started using
my credit card again on sportsbook.com and related
sites and no luck. I take $1000 out of my Paradise
poker account, transfer to Neteller, and transfer
that to Galaxiworld. I figured that since I had
won $25k once there, why not again? Sure enough,
I got up to $30k. Then $45k. Then $70k.
That is a shitload of money. I started
making all kinds of big plans. I was going to
wire money to the rio and play in a few WSOP events.
I was going to take another vacation before school
started to some other place I've dreamed of going.
I order my cashout to Galaxiworld, and they kindly
tell me that I need to fax a ton of verification
info to them. I fax the required stuff, and call
them to make sure they received it. They said
they had, and would start issuing my payout in
one week at $4k increments per week. Most people
would be satisfied making $4k a week for 19 weeks.
Not me. I couldn't shake my itch. While I did
a good job of waiting about 4 days before playing,
over a 3-day period (including 17 hours straight
at the end) I lost it all. $70k. Plus my remaining
poker funds. Put quite a bummer on the Vegas trip
the next week. After I got back, I lost a little
more as well.
So, now I am very broke and have
to live off of my measly paychecks for the slave
labor I do at school. Being a poor student I get
lots of low-interest Stafford loans, so I only
have to be dirt-poor for about a month until the
loans come in around August 25. Luckily, I didn't
have much money to begin with. If there is one
positive here it is that it happened to me when
it did. If this would have happened to me when
I was 30 I could have easily gambled away my life
savings up to that point. The vast majority of
what I lost was the house's money, but mainly
because of the limits of what money of my own
that was available. Now, I am just a poor college
student which isn't too far away from what I was
a year ago.
Being poor and not being able to
play poker or craps has allowed me plenty of time
to think lately, and I have come up with the following
1) I have a gambling problem, and
probably a very serious one.
2) In retrospect, the amount of productivity I
have lost this year has been astounding because
of the number of 10 hour+ binges I have gone on.
3) I need to make some changes.
First, I need sources of personal
accountability. Just telling myself to do something
else isn't enough. I have tried that many times.
By putting my dirty laundry on display here I
hope that it will help me be good. If I do any
gambling online from now on, I am putting it on
this thread for everyone to see how pathetic I
am. Since I don't want to feel pathetic, hopefully
that will help influence me. Being open with this
stuff should help me since it is a very embarrassing
thing for people to know.
Second, I need to get myself in
an okay spot financially. I have decided that
I am going to turn over my finances to my girlfriend
(she doesn't know this yet) starting when I get
my loan money in August. I am taking out the maximum
amount of Stafford subsidized and unsubsidized
loans possible from what they are offering, which
is about $4250 each. I also have a little scholarship
money coming in, so after school expenses I should
get a refund of around $7750. Thank god that since
I am a TA my tuition is paid for and I only have
to worry about fees. I hate revolving debt, but
I think using this money to pay off my credit
card is the best option I have at this time. If
I'm going to have an extra few thousand in debt,
I would rather it be at 5% than at 18%.
I am going to cancel my credit card.
I will retain a $1500 partition of my savings
for emergency use only.
I am going to give my ATM card to
my girlfriend and allow her to withdrawal rent
& bills directly from it. I am setting up
automatic bill pay for my other bills. If I need
money, I have to go to the bank and get cash.
In addition, I will make no excessive expenditures
and will return to my cheap ways when buying food
and stuff for myself, but will spend more money
and time on my girlfriend than I have lately.
She has been good to me and deserves better than
what I've given her.
I am canceling my Neteller and Firepay
accounts, along with all other non-poker internet
I am not playing poker until the
end of August, except for freerolls and frequent
player point tourneys.
As I said earlier, I consider myself
a decent poker player and so far a winning one.
If I feel that I can meet the above requirements,
I am going to deposit $500 into party poker, unless
a 50% reload bonus is going on at FullTiltPoker.
After this, I am setting my PartyPoker deposit
limit to zero. While it is possible to change
this setting in the future, it takes 24 hours
which is usually enough to outlast any tilt. I
will also set my deposit limits to zero on the
other remaining poker websites. If I am to play
for money on any others, it will only be under
the condition that someone will transfer money
to me for whatever place it is after I have transferred
an equivalent amount of money to them on PartyPoker.
I am interested in trying out WPEX and may look
into it in the future.
I am limiting my play with this
$500 to maximums of: $10+1 SnGs, $10+1 MTT, $2/$4
limit, $25 NL. I can also play the Party Poker
step and/or mini-step challenges if I buy into
round 1 only. I will be blogging my play to help
encourage me to stick to my limits and also because
I really liked Skran's $50 to $500 blog. I will
keep the blog here, or if PokerLizard has any
interest I can do it there.
If I make it to $750 I will allow myself to play
up to 3/6 limit. At $1000 I can play 4/8 limit,
$20+2 SnGs and MTT, and $50 NL. If I am losing
money I will scale down my limits as needed.
I will take out 25% of any profits I make on a
If I lose, I am not allowed to redeposit until
I get a real job.
I am setting the home page of my browser to this
post, so that I am forced to look at it if I get
the itch to gamble. If the urges continue, I will
seek counseling options for such issues.
Over the past year I have placed
well over $1,000,000 in wagers. Considering as
a student I have been living on an annual budget
of $15k or less the past few years that is an
astounding number. Fortunately I have the benefit
of student loans to get myself afloat for now.
Not a great fallback plan to say the least, but
it is at least something. Had I dropped out of
school I would probably be looking at bankruptcy
and/or working my ass off in minimum-wage jobs
desperately trying to make enough dough to pay
the bills. I am getting a second chance and obviously
have some real work for myself. I'm sure the severity
of my gambling problem is high compared to most
that will read this post, but I really do hope
that you will still take my recommendations on
a fallback plan into consideration.
If you ever feel that you might
have a gambling problem then you probably do.
Be open with your friends and family, I promise
it will help. I have had a ton of support from
my friends and this is one of the major reasons
I am optimistic about my future in regards to
poker and other gaming, but I am pretty sure that
going pro will never be a good idea for me. If
you feel uncomfortable sharing this kind of information
with those you know I would be more than happy
to discuss it with you, although there is an abundance
of help-lines available that are probably better
suited for it. Good luck, and I am looking forward
to sharing my experiences with you as I combat
this problem while trying to maintain a semi-serious
If you feel you may have a gambling
problem please check out Gamblers
this and other articles in the Lizard Lounge.