Ask Counsellor Sam

Ask Counsellor Sam
You might be wondering how to approach a friend and ask them if they have a problem with gambling? You could be thinking about calling Gambling Help but you aren’t sure what will happen.  Whatever you want to know, or want help with, this is the place for any question you have about gambling.  Check out some of the questions Sam’s helped with so far…Do you have a question about gambling?

Counsellor Sam, I realise finally that I am addicted to pokies. I should know better as I work in a club and see it every day, I have been playing pokies after work and on my days off but today I want to be the start of stopping like I did when I stopped smoking cold turkey! If I just think of all the money wasted I could have had a beautiful overseas holiday. NO MORE BLAMING MY HUSBAND FOR BEING AN ALCOHOLIC DRINKING OUR MONEY AWAY!!!!! BEING LONELY!!!BEING OVERWEIGHT!!!NO THIS IS THE DAY!!! NO MORE POKIES!!!!NO MORE KENO!!! A start of a new life happier and more money in the pocket no more hiding PLEASE GOD GIVE ME THE STRENGTH!!! Mazza

Your enthusiasm is infectious, Mazza! Please contact Gambling Help on 1800858 858 and see a face to face counsellor. It is a confidential service and remember, “god helps those who help themselves”. So, take this step and plan your journey towards abstinence constructively rather than merely thinking that just stopping the expenditure will do it for you. Remember you need to experience success in whatever you plan. As human beings, we get swayed by such experiences so it is important to achieve somesuccesses. If your plan is structured and you have a counsellor with you for support, there is a greater likelihood of success.Gambling is a complex issue, more complex if smoking, alcohol & other things are included. I wish you every success in making this your year. Go for it Mazza..

Take care, Counsellor Sam.


Hi Counsellor Sam, I had a gambling hangover when I went to Adelaide recently. Donked off $600 playing Poker 😥 David

David, how sad that you blew $600 in one go on poker. Hope this didn’t affect the rest of your time in Adelaide. Quite often when people lose they become desperate to try to win back what they have lostand instead of accepting that what is gone is gone, they spend more and more money in a vain attempt to win back their original loss.

For more advice check out site for ideas on managing your gambling and putting controls in place. Always set a limit, take in only a small amount of cash – no cards – and only what you are prepared to lose. With some simple strategies in place you can keep gambling under control.


Hello Counsellor Sam,

In the last 2 months I have blown $10000+ on the pokies. Even when I was up I’d keep playing till I had nothing left. I was trapped by these machines, I’d started taking my partner’s card and using her wages to play and then tell her a lie to cover it up. In the end I was telling one lie to cover another. I’d lie to my family as well to get money to play. The kick in the head I needed finally arrived when my partner (who I intended to ask to marry me) finally had enough and ended it. I never realised how much damage that it had done. I finally opened up and told my family and loved ones the truth about all of the gambling. I now am in touch with counsellors and they are helping me greatly. It’s only been a week but I haven’t had the urge to play. I know I can kick the habit with help and so can you. THE POKIES ARE KILLERS. STAY AWAY FROM THEM!! Hopefully I can regain the trust of friends, family, loved ones by showing that I can beat the addiction. From sadness there is a positive, by realising that I had a serious problem and doing something to rectify it and get my life back to normal. I CAN DO IT !!! Ang.

Hello Ang, Good on you for doing the right thing and making a conscious decision to address your issues! It is important that you are getting help so please keep up with your appointments. Feeling a sense of achievement and doing well with initial appointments is quite normal, the challenge is to keep at it and be absolutely transparent in your sessions with your counsellor.Yes, you can do it and your counsellor can help, but you need to maintain honesty – especially if it gets tough and you begin to feel some of the old temptations. You have a very positive attitude which will help you a lot. Please keep us informed of your progress – all the best, Counsellor Sam


Help me Counsellor Sam…They suck you in. It’s all a big scam…That much revenue everyday going to the pubs, clubs and govt. They are all in it together, and we are the suckers who fall for it. They call playing pokies a recreation.

What about the stories they don’t know about like mine and yours. Over $1,000,000 I have pumped through those machines over a 10 year period. Who is gonna save me now? Oh yeah some politicians are fighting to reduce limits. FIGHTING, why are they fighting, remember it’s only a recreation. BULLSHIT, IT’S A BIG SCAM. In 3 hours I put $10,000 in a machine, it took me almost 2 months to make it. RECREATION MY ARSE.

I went to QLD 2 years ago. Went to Jupiter’s Casino, pulled a $1000 from ATM, machines there only accept $20 bills and lock after you pump $100 into them. In 3 hours I blew $400, got the shits and left. NSW GREEDY SCAMMING BASTARDS. My wife is ready to divorce me, my mind is going crazy about the cash I’ve blown, could’ve had my dream home paid off in full, now still living in rent. Oh the pubs are spending $5 million on renovations so we can smoke while we blow our cash.


Mike…you seem to think that the government and “others” are responsible for your problems. Unfortunately the fact is that you have the choice to be sensible around your gambling. For your sake and for the sake of your kids, please contact Gambling Help for assistance.

It is a confidential environment where you get to address your issues with a psychologist/counsellor.Trust me, this can be your best New Years gift to yourself and your family. Counsellor Sam.


Hi Counsellor Sam, my story is, I started gambling around 15 years ago. Only an odd 20 or 30 in a pokie. Then I started betting on sports, I’d deposit half my wage in these accounts, yeah I had the odd win but many more losses. I found I couldn’t get my hands on enough money, I then defrauded Centrelink, now I have to go to court as I have been charged. I owe them $23,000 and yes most of it was gambled. Gambling became a way of life for me, when internet gambling sites appeared I had an account with every single one, didn’t pay my bills and was forced to go bankrupt. I now am going to court and maybe even jail, and it’s only now that I have stopped. I am using all that money to pay back my debts to the government. I never ever thought I was addicted but now I know I was. What can I do? Lisa.

Lisa…You have had a rough ride with your problem. It is good that you have made up your mind that you DO have a problem. I suggest you contact Gambling Help on 1800 858 858 and find out which service is closest to you and look at some face to face counseling that will help you with financial repayments and controlling your gambling. In addition to helping with your problem, showing the courts and government agencies that you have come to terms with your problem and are getting help can help with these situations too. I hope you see a specialist counsellor soon and really take charge of your life.You can make some positive changes. All the best! Counsellor Sam.


Counsellor Sam I want to share my story with you. I have been gambling since I was 20 and now I am 31. I have just stopped gambling not so long ago. I have lost all my savings. I have been working for13 years but because I have been gambling all that money I earned and saved is all gone. Now I have nothing. Plus I have taken $33,000 from my family without telling them. They knew about it later on and were very very upset but lucky they gave me another chance and have told me to repay it ASAP.

I have a really really nice girlfriend that really loves me and now she is feeling stressed and unhappy with me and with my gambling. She almost broke up with me twice but I am lucky it didn’t happen but I am really scared she will leave me one day. With all that money I put in the pokies I would have been able to take my girlfriend on a good holiday and give her nice presents, and do lots of fun stuff together. I wish I didn’t gamble in the first place and that I used that money for something useful. I am very sad, stressedand feeling sick and feel like crap.

This is a tip for everyone: if you never gambled before then keep it that way. If people you know gamble and ask you to come along and play and say to you “oh just put in $10 to $20 and we walk out when it’s gone” say NO No No. Don’t gamble. A lot of problem gamblers started off playing for fun or just playing small at first but later the big problems start. I am a good example. I have been working for 13 years gambling from 20 to 31 and not only have I lost all my savings, I owe my family $33K, and I almost lost my girlfriend who I really love. I don’t know what is happening, maybe she will leave me later on. I am really scared and worried, lets hope I am wrong and I am able to spend the rest of my life with her. So if there is anyone out there who feels like they want to gamble orfeels they can’t control themselves you can look at my story and I am hoping this can help you. Call the 1800-858-858 number if you need any advice and they will give you numbers to call for free face to face gambling counsellors. All the best to everyone and remember don’t gamble. Ken

Hi Ken I really hope you have done what you have suggested others do. Have you contacted the GH line?  It worries me that you are stressed and scared. You do not sound very good and I wonder howwell you are managing your stress? There are so many issues you need to address, please contact the GH line on 1800 858 858 to see a face to face counsellor today. Today is the day Ken. You have struggled with gambling for years, please make this the year you take control and make positive changes.I hope you know it is a confidential service and all referrals counsellors make are also free. Counsellor Sam


Counsellor Sam….I have lost, sold, stolen and committed fraud in the past to feed this habit, and once again have come close to losing everything I own. I have hurt my family and friends. I have low self-esteem, I can’t afford a haircut, am overweight, look like a dag and live day in and out in the few t-shirts and pants I have, and I own one pair of shoes, due to my gambling. I am behind in rent and am facing eviction, owe $25,000 to my family and have many unpaid bills.

I lost $2,000 in my last binge 3 days ago, which leaves no food money or money for work, smokes, etc.. I am totally fed up to the back teeth with this problem, and am ready to quit. I have been to see a counsellor over the last month or so, and I think I am finally ready to get this monkey off my back once and for all. Gambling is an insidious addiction, that became my focus in life, but it has now become my enemy and I despise it and myself, and want my life back. I have a tough few years ahead of me paying back what I owe, but have come to realise that I’m not going to win this money to pay off bills and family, only hard work and quitting gambling is going to do it. I have done many shameful things to feed this addiction, and am saddened by the fact that now at 42 years of age I have started to come to my senses.

I wish I had given up years ago, and given my family the lifestyle that they deserve. It’s a hard battle but I feel this time I have finally hit rock bottom, and the only way to deal with this is to pick myself up, dust myself off and just get on with it. I am lucky! I have a supportive family, great job and my health. Good luck to anyone who is dealing with this addiction, I wish you well and encourage you to get help A.S.A.P. Don’t waste years hoping for the big win! It ain’t gonna happen.

Take it from me. I am not one who feels comfortable attending G.A as I have in the past, however I know that I can’t and won’t be able to do it alone, so I will continue seeing my counsellor from life line, and having been gambling free for the last 9 days, feel that this time I have the chance to beat this problem.

I feel so tired of my life as a gambler, and counselling has helped, along with this feeling deep inside of me, that I have had enough of the poverty, lies, cheating and low self-esteem, that goes hand in hand with this disease. I hope you can help me, Kim.

Hi Kim. Thanks so much for sharing your story. Good on you for making the
decision to quit gambling and get back in control of your life. And well
done on being gambling free for the past few days – that’s great!

When I read your story, many of the clients I have seen came to mind. The
shame, guilt, lies, cheating and low self-esteem that you speak of, are very
common experiences for many gamblers. You can turn this around. Even after a
few weeks or months of not gambling, many people are pleasantly surprised by
how much “freer” they feel, how much more control they have in their life,
how much better they feel about themselves.

There will be hard days, but there will also be more and more good days as you go along. You’re right, it may take some years to repay the money you owe. But in doing so, you will rebuild your self-esteem and pride by taking responsibility for your actions and addressing these issues head on.

It’s wonderful to hear you have support behind you, and a real willingness
for things to be better for both you and your family. You can definitely do

Feel free to utilise any of the Gambling Help resources as you work
through this – visit for great tips and info.
All the best! Sam


I’m sitting here reading all these stories about addiction to the poker machines and I relate to everything that is being said. The big losses, the constant financial worries, the loneliness, the big wins that make it even worse. How many times have I won over $1000 and thought this is it, it’s time to stop and use that cash to recover, and how many times have I failed, and ended up losing twice, or three times that amount. Stopping cold turkey has been impossible for me, but I have already cut up all my credit cards and limiting my access to cash. I think convenience, and easy access to money is one major factor that contributes to this hellish life, I’m hoping I can make it through this… Matt.

Matt…Cutting up your credit cards is a good start, but the true reason why someone continues to gamble is because they think they can beat the machines and know how to do it.

Matt, it is really important that you get some expert help and support to control your gambling. You can contact Gambling Help on 1800 858 858 and find out the closest service to you.  You will have a greater chance of success if you approach your issues in a structured manner.  You have already started on some good work but cutting up cards and identifying that access to funds is just the beginning. You will be amazed by how much you can learn when you attend a counseling session. Many people make half-hearted attempts to give up gambling on their own and sadly repeatedly fail.  With help, you can be in control and really address your  issues. You can make the choice not to gamble. All the best! Counsellor Sam.


I started gambling when I was 18. My journey has been one of a physical kind as I have been trying to get back all of the money I have lost over the years into the pokies. Roulette – all I can say is when you put $7,000 on red, it’s going to come up on either black or zero, so no matter how hard you try, or how smart you think your system is, it isn’t. Einstein couldn’t figure out a way to beat roulette, so what chance have you got? The smartest way to get out of your addiction is as follows:

When you go out withdraw $10 and give your mate your card. Tell them not to give it back to you under any circumstances that night. Then go have a good time, maybe with a bottle of wine. Haters gonna hate. Frank.

Frank…I am not sure that Einstein was a gambler, but either way I think that the smart money is on counselling sessions. Counselling will help you address all your issues around gambling and get back in control. Gambling is a complex problem best approached in an appropriate manner with professional assistance. While friends can be supportive and help you resist gambling urges most of the time there are more issues at play and to really control your gambling you need to understand those. Counsellor sam.


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