Over five-years ago I had a terrible gambling problem that had spun completely out of control. I was gambling on anything and everything. There were no triggers that resulted in an impulse to gamble because it was my life. I gambled when I woke up, I set my robots to gamble when I was at work and I gambled when I came home. When I woke up each morning the first thing I did was check my laptop to see how much money I had won or lost. Only then would I roll over and kiss my ex-wife on the cheek and wish her a happy morning.
When I decided to quit alcohol I also used it as an opportunity to also quit gambling. I told myself that poker, although a form of gambling was different because it is a game that is heavily weighted to the more skilful players over the long run. So I quit all forms of gambling except for poker. In five-years I have only gambled once and funnily enough it was when I was drunk. It was in Las Vegas and I emptied my wallet of $3,000 while playing roulette.
I know that over the past five years I have broken even playing poker. That understanding has a huge psychological impact on me. It tells me that I am not good enough and I don’t like that feeling. More recently my mood has been terrible when I sit down and play. I don’t have a bankroll that is separated from my personal funds. When I win I spend it and when I lose I take more money out of my personal account to play. This can be very difficult, emotionally, because I can work abroad for a week and lose all my income in one-night playing cards. I am now in a situation where I can no longer afford to play a game I once wanted to play professionally. But quitting is tough, because poker is not just about the game; it is a very social event as well. All of my friends play poker and I see them all when I play poker. In a way this situation reminds me of the time I quit alcohol. My entire group of friend’s drank alcohol and as soon as I quit they all stopped being my friend. You just have no reason to hang around in nightclubs and pubs if you don’t drink. I guess I am scared of the same thing happening again. The truth of the matter is if I quit I won’t see a lot of these people again.
So in an attempt to control my gambling I bought Change Your Gambling; Change Your Life by Howard Shaffer, but I have given up with only 40% read on my Kindle. The book is just not doing anything for me. I don’t seem to relate to it. It is as if it is written for someone else and I cannot see how it can help me. For example it has sections where they cover the urges and triggers for gambling and I don’t have any. I have had one urge to place a bet in the past five years. I never have an urge to play poker. I want to play poker because I enjoy it, but I don’t have an urge. When Tuesday night rolls along I know it is poker night and I want to play but…sorry…no urge. Example this Tuesday came and went and I had no urge to play, no cold sweats, no upset, nothing.
I have come to the conclusion that my decision to stop smoking, drink alcohol and quit my job and go through a divorce has made be a stronger man. Before I picked up this book I defined myself as a gambling addict, but I am not sure that is the case. In fact I know it isn’t. I am not a gambling addict because I don’t gamble. Yes I play poker and yes poker is gambling but there is a big difference between sitting down for a game of cards and betting on sports or playing roulette. What I am is very poor at bankroll management. My weakness in this area is what causes me the upset and distress. It is what causes me to chase.
I have decided that I am going to stop playing poker until I have a bankroll. This is going to take me at least twelve months and during this time I will get a taste of what life is like beyond poker. But I am confident that if I can manage my bankroll then I can manage poker and my moods. Yes poker makes me miserable, but it also makes me happy at times too. I am not ready to part ways with it just yet.
So do I recommend this book for people who have gambling problems? I think it may be able to help people who possess gambling problems, but the content wasn’t great in my opinion. Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately) during my research I didn’t find many alternatives so I have decided I will write one of my own. I will write the gambling book I was looking for when I found this. Watch this space.