This is the first blog of the new series of blogs about my experience and the hard lessons that I learned with regards to gambling. I just hope that as a result of these blogs none of you readers will ever get into gambling. It’s a dark, dark place to be and I do not with the addiction on my worst enemy. This first blog will be about a quick story of how I got wrapped up with gambling. This is merely an introduction and a quick overview of my experience. I just want to gauge the reaction via this first blog and if people want to hear more then I will get into more detail. This is your blog as much it is mine, so I want to write and give my opinions on things that you as a reader enjoy. So far I am over the moon regarding the reaction my Money Management blogs have gotten and I hope this new series of blogs is something that also interests you, the reader.
So, here’s a quick story. I first started gambling when I was in first year in college. I am a huge soccer fan so I thought that I would beat the bookies hands down with my “superior” footballing knowledge, well, so I thought. I thought I was going to make some easy money. So I started by setting up an online betting account with bet365. It was a very simple process (almost “too” simple). That’s the catch I guess, once they have you, they have you hooked. I initially lodged €10 into my new betting account and I was suddenly filled with excitement. Here we go, here come the big money, this will be the day my life changes and, yes, my life did change, but for the worse. I didn’t know much about betting at the time but I was only risking €10 of my “parents” money that I was given for college. I wasn’t worried. I knew I am a fast learner so I will pick up the lingo as I go and I did.
So weekend rolled around and I placed my first bet on Manchester United to beat Fulham. (Yes I remember my first bet, I was THAT excited to place my first ever bet).The odds were poor as Manchester United were huge favourites for the game. However, that’s the reason why I placed such bet. It was a safe bet. It was my first bet. I had to take things slow. I didn’t risk huge amount of money on my first bet, only €2. Match kicked off, my heart was racing, my €2 was on the line. Within couple of hours the referee blew the final whistle and Bet365 rewarded me with €1.31 as well as my initial investment of €2 for taking a gamble. So, I made €1.31 profit. Wow, right? It wasn’t much, but once that money was lodged into my account by Bet365, I was hooked. They got me. That was the worse thing that could have happened to me. That the thing when it comes to gambling, once you win a bet or two you feel invincible, you feel on top of the world. Its easy money, straight into your account. Ok, it wasn’t much, it was a mere €1.31 profit, but that was only the start. To win big you have to risk big and that was a dangerous mentality that was slowly but surely creeping towards.
So my next few bets after my initial win were very mild, €1, €2, €5 and even €10. I made very little money. I won some, I lost some, but the biggest hook was the feeling of winning. You feel like you outsmarted the bookies. You feel like you are going to be rich. However, to be rich you must keep going, you must keep betting. Then, it was quickly no longer about “making money” it was all about that rush of blood, that excitement, that winning feeling. I started off betting only at weekends when the football matches across Europe were in full swing. I knew my fair share of football knowledge so I picked my bets wisely…..initially. After making small bit of money I began to get a little bit liberal with my bets. I started lodging more and more money into my account. I truly believed that I was onto something. Yes I was losing money here and there, but I thought this was just a learning curve. Surely all these losses will turn to wins sooner rather than later. I kept playing. Didn’t look at my bank account. I didn’t want to know. I just kept pressing that “Deposit” button – €5, €10, €20 etc. The amounts I was lodging was rising. It was slowly but surely becoming my hobby, my drug my everything. I would spend every day after college researching and analysing stats for my upcoming weekend bets. I didn’t want to go out with my friends, go to the gym, socialise or anything like that. Some weekend I win, some weekends I lose but it didn’t matter anymore I was addicted. This continued for months. My addiction flowed from first year to second year, to third year of my college life. My addiction was gaining speed and I was slowly losing control of it.
So lets quickly fast forward to my 3rd year in college. This was when I hit rock bottom with my gambling addiction. I was no longer satisfied with weekend matches. It was too much of a wait. I wanted to bet every minute of every day. I wanted the buzz, the rush, the excitement. I branched out. I started betting on basketball, snooker, GAA etc. If there was a match on that I knew the slightest thing about (or even if I didn’t) I was placing that bet and chew my nails until the final whistle. My stakes began to rise. From my initial €2 bet I have grown in confidence as well as desperation and I would easily place €50 – €100 on a single bet without blinking. Furthermore, I began to create accumulators. For those who don’t know (well done, because accumulators is something that you shouldn’t know). Accumulators are a bet slip that allows you to add several bets to one bet slip and as a result the bookies will give you much better odds. This means that you can win a lot more money off from a small stake. I started creating accumulators because I wanted to chase my losses, to win big and of course chase the feeling of excitement. However, there is one catch when it comes to “accumulators”. If you put down 5 bets and one of the 5 bets doesn’t come through you will lose the full bet slip. This was a major drawback with accumulators, but I didn’t care. The reward outweighed the risk. Furthermore, the potential feeling of winning, outweighed the feeling of losing. If I lost, all I had to do was to lodge more money and off I go again. Madness!
Within a matter of months I gambled all of my college fund away. Coming up to Christmas I hardly had a penny to my name. I was broke, I was scared and I was ashamed. However, the evil hand of gambling kept ushering me to spend more and more. I literally went days without eating food. I couldn’t afford it. I had a weekend job at the time that just about kept me going. I worked hard, I gambled, I starve and I go again. The cycle went on and on. My addiction as well as my shame grew more and more. I felt desperate. I started betting on sports such as handball, volleyball, hockey etc. I didn’t care what sport it was, what league it was or how much I knew about what I was betting on. I wanted that feeling of winning back and most of all I wanted to recoup my losses. Smart right? I was betting more to win back more to cover my debts, my college, my shame. It was all in vain.
It all blew up in my face when I came clean to my dad coming up to Christmas of that year. However, the story doesn’t stop there. I thought I had hit rock bottom when I approached my dad with the words “Dad, can I speak with you in private” but it was far from rock bottom. There was one last twist in the tale, but that’s a story for another day.
So there it is, a brief run through one of the loneliest, darkest time of my life. I just want to get a feel of how the story of my gambling experience is received. I want to talk and talk, write and write about the highs, the lows, the harsh lessons, the realisations, the madness of it all. However, I do not want to bore my readers either. If you enjoyed this blog, please give some feedback in the comments below. Also if there is something that you are not happy about or want to raise any issue please feel free to do so too. I want everyone to learn and grow from my Money Management blogs and my Gambling blogs. As I have said before, this “our” blog.
Thanks for reading and I welcome your feedback. Hope you enjoyed the blog and I will chat to you on the next one.