The Pick of the Week: Being a Gambling Addict

Bankroll Blues

As I walked into the pub last night, it was great to see some old faces. The combination of traveling and my decision to fight alcoholism means I don’t see them as much as I used to; in fact hardly at all. Men are different than women. We don’t just pop around for a cup of tea and a gossip; another of life scripts handed down to us from those that strode the path before us.

I was there to play poker and my conversation was cut short as the table dragged me under like a riptide. Just before I broke free from the man hugs I was invited to go horse racing. There was a time when I would have snapped them up on the offer…no that’s wrong…there was a time I would have just been there with them, pure and simple. We would have gotten drunk, stared at all of the beautiful ladies and won or lost hundreds of pounds. These days I don’t drink, or gamble, so I fail to see the point of the Sport of Kings.

As I politely turned down the offer I explained to my friend that it wouldn’t be a good idea to take a gambling addict to Chepstow racecourse. He laughed at the preposterous argument as I was just about to win or lose hundreds in a poker game. Surely poker is gambling? My friend is of course right, poker is gambling. But in the moment, my need to be right and my need for justification rose above the need to be myself. I lied and explained to him that poker is a game of skill and it is not gambling at all. He laughed at me in that dismissive manner and the conversation was cut short.

Human beings are liars and poker players are some of the worse kind. I suppose it goes with the territory, after all your job is to misdirect. I interview at least one poker player per week. I listen to the same bullshit answers designed to get them through the time as quickly as they can. Every now and then someone gives me a glimpse of their true self, but it’s as rare as catching me not trying to dominate a conversation. This is how I feel about poker and I am pretty sure that underneath the false veneer of the professional poker industry, lots of recreational poker players who do their bollocks week-in and week-out feel the same way.

“Poker is like a marriage. There are moments when it sparkles and you feel effervescent making it is the greatest communion in the world. But these times are overshadowed by the dark clouds that it also produces. In short I am unhappy more than I am happy when I am immersed in poker. You must be a robot if you have played well, made all the right decisions, lost thousands of pounds and feel great. The reason it makes me feel so bad is because I lose money. Push one layer deeper and it is because I cannot afford to lose the money. I am a winner in the cash game that I am playing in, but during my recent downswing I do not have the money to cover the losses I am hitting due to variance. There is nowhere to go. I cannot drop down to a lower level because this is the only level. I am at the lowest of the low. Poker controls me. I know I should not play but it tells me a tale of gold and silver, and happily ever afters and I believe it, just like I believe my bullshit self. I trundle along with a smile on my face and just as a chameleon changes with the seasons my smug look changes also. I am the most miserable man you will ever meet at a poker table. I don’t talk to people. I get angry at them and I berate them for every stupid decision they make that should make me money but doesn’t. I am moving in with my new girlfriend soon and I am scared. I am going to lie to her. I am going to give her all of the reasons why I should play in the game and then go out and lose. Lying to someone is not a great foundation for a relationship. I know because I am a divorcee. To be my true self I must admit that I am a flawed character and one of these flaws is that I am a liar. Is this why money is the root of all evil? When the communion does sparkle, where does the light come from: poker or money? How many players would still play if it were not for the money? Surely the game falls apart? It’s the money. I am a slave to the money. I want to get rich quick because I am lazy. I don’t want to work hard for my money. I want to win it clicking buttons on a computer screen. I want to rob my friends and send them back to their families without any money to take their children on holiday. I make myself sick.”


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  1. Lee, stop playing in that homegame, its obviously not doing you any good, this blogpost drips with self loathing, would you feel this way after an online session against faceless unknowns? please don’t play in it again it seems to be crushing your spirit.

    I’m well qualified in self loathing, in fact I’m a master of it but thankfully I’m on my way to having mastery over it.

    Chin up mate.

    Best wishes

    • Lee Davy says:

      Hi Neil,

      I have stopped playing at the moment and won’t go back to it until I have at least finished my latest self-help book on gambling addiction.

      Thanks for the comments.


  2. Wow, Lee. Talk about honest. Two gentle corrections first. I have found that men gossip as much as women do if not worse. And the correct saying is “Money is the root of ALL KINDS of evil.”
    Your friend is right of course, as you well know. Poker is gambling and not being able to control it is an addiction. You gave up alcohol, you are strong and can give up gambling also. My ex didn’t want to fight his addictions. Me and our kids were not worth the effort to him. Now he is on hospice and lay dying at age 52 with no one but his damaged brother to be with him. You are stronger than him. Hate your actions, not yourself, enough to change and then let it go. Live a long life of happiness with your girlfriend and son. And don’t be hesitant to pray even if you don’t believe.

    • Lee Davy says:

      Hi Linnea,

      I can beat this and will beat this. Thanks for your encouragement as always.



  3. Lee, talk about laying it on the line – man, you just did! Gambling is like any other part of life, taking chances. In most everything we do, there is either a minute or an infinite amount of chance involved. With gambling, of course, comes its affinity to money. It is the desire for more, more, more that brings the gambler back to the gambling table. As a result, an overarcing question looms in the midst that recognizes the need to stop but not the will: When IS enough enough? That, my friend, is entirely a personal question. Look at it this way: It is your life, right? Is it worth giving up your life for monetary gain, that which is temporary, or is there something much more valuable to consider, that which is eternal?

    As for your girfriend, don’t begin a relationship with a lie for it will end with a lie. Let her read this post, then, she will make her own decision.

    Just my two cents worth . . .

    • Lee Davy says:

      Thanks for the comments Cat. My girlfriend does read these blog posts and I do not wish to start a relationship with a lie.

      I am have stopped gambling for the time being and am reading some self-help gambling books. I will keep you posted on progress.

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