I recently received this email from Brad who wanted to share his story with me.
I’m only 18, and gambling is starting to ruin my life.. I dont play pokie machines because I know the chances of winning. I love sport betting. I work really hard for my job and money. I have nothing and I’ve earned about $8,000 in the last 4 months. I just recently lost $2000 this weekend. I always get my bets 95% right, and there’s usually one upset. I just cant work it out. What I’m doing wrong.. I just keep chasing all the time. In the footy last week, it came down storm to beat warriors for a few thousand and they lost. They should of smashed them. I’m one of the most unluckiest gamblers you’ll ever see. I wanna stop, but I cant. If I put $100 on red, black comes out, $100 on odd, zero comes out. Its all luck and chance, but I dont have any. I’m sick of the upsets, its always one game. I’m not sure what I’ve lost in total, but I’m starting to lose alot of respect off my mates, and its hitting me deep. I need help, otherwise I know my next paycheck is going towards a sports multi or the horses and greys. All I want is to win that big one that gets me near back to even and I’ll quit. I know its coming, but how many years? I cant keep throwing my money away. I’m a dissapointment to myself and my friends and family.
It is very rare for an 18 year old to admit that gambling has become a problem. What is common is for an 18 year old to have a problem and deny it for another 5-10 years while the problem becomes worse. It takes a lot of guts to reach out and get help and that deserves respect – good one. Recognising you need help also shows that you have real strength and that is a good sign that you can turn this around.
Brad, it’s important you look at gambling for what it is. You are not the unluckiest person in the world and the losses do not reflect who you are as a person, so don’t let them dictate that.
Gambling is about chance and it’s usually a very small chance that we will win.
You might not believe me when I say this, but you will be waiting your whole life for that big win that gets you even.
Imagine dedicating your whole life to chasing that one big win. Think of all of the experiences you will miss out on…
Do you know why it will take a whole life time? Because when you get that big win you will feel really lucky and slowly lose it all in subsequent bets.
Think about that for a sec.
I’ve spoken to heaps of young guys in similar situations to you, and they’ve all told me the same thing. They lose hundreds of thousands of dollars chasing that “big win” only to lose it all and more because they can’t stop even if they get it. If we do happen to win, it is really common for our minds start playing with us…our brain kind of goes off on its own coming up with really unhelpful thoughts like “If I double this I’ll recover all my losses and have money left over to buy…” or “I’m on a roll! I can’t stop now or I’ll never get this chance again”, but it’s more likely that we lose.
Gambling is all about chance. There are not lucky or unlucky people. When you hear about other people’s big wins it only sounds good because they haven’t told you about all the money they lost to get it.
Think about it, would you tell people about how much you lost or how much you won?
Brad, even if a game seems like a sure thing, it is rare that you would get it right 100% of the time.
There are so many variables – a player may get injured during the match, it might start raining, people might be having an off day; you never know what is going to happen.
Another thing to think about is if you are getting 95% of your bets right then how come you are losing so much money?
Is the one time that you are losing a much bigger bet then your normal bets, or is it because you are actually losing more than you remember?
A really common trick for our brains to play on us is to cover up the times that we lose (who wants to remember those?)
Our minds celebrate the wins and easily discard the losses.
If you continue to bet in the coming weeks then it may help to record EVERY SINGLE bet, whether you win or lose, and total up how much you won and lost.
This is an easy way to see for yourself how much you are actually losing.
Brad, it sounds like the respect of your mates is an important thing to you, so try writing down a list of ways in which you can regain their respect and work on it as a to-do list. It might be something as simple as spending more time with them, or going out and not gambling. I know that if I saw a mate who was struggling taking measures to bounce back I’d be willing to help them out – and I’d reckon most of your mates will too. It takes time though.You can’t just buy back their respect. You’ll have to earn their trust and respect, but if you’re determined to change things for the better, this is a good place to start..
As a short-term solution, here are some things you can try when you get your next pay:
– immediately pay any bills, rent etc and buy food and neccessities for the pay period
– only take out the money that you need for what you are doing and leave your cards at home (or better yet leave them with someone you trust who will not be afraid to say no when you ask for them)
– if you go to the TAB (or wherever you go) after work on pay day, then plan another route home so you can avoid it
– do something else that you enjoy when a game is on.
It takes time to get things back to normal, but I think that you’ve made a great start. You’ve recognised there is a problem and you’ve decided to do something about it and that shows a lot of courage.
If you feel up for it, a face-to-face gambling counsellor might be a good next step.
These services are free and there is no time limit so you can use the service for as long or short as you need. Gambling counsellors are there to guide you through the process of doing something about your gambling (whether it’s stopping or cutting back, the choice is yours).
Gambling counsellors understand gambling and they can offer support and a lot of practical strategies to get you to where you want to be.
You can find the nearest counsellor by visiting http://www.gamblinghelp.nsw.gov.au/GamblingHelp/HelpNearYou/Search.aspx or contacting Gambling Help on 1800 858 858 (free from a landline and it’s a 24/7 service so you can call anytime).
If you think that you are not up for seeing somebody in person, you can always talk to the experts on the 1800 858 858 number (free and confidential) or try www.gamblinghelponline.org.au where you can email or instant message with a counsellor. Of course you can continue to contact me for any specific questions you might have.
It can be a bit confronting talking to a counsellor if you are not used to it, but having a regular appointment with someone you can trust can really help – and a lot of people have been able to take control of their gambling with help and support.
What ever you decide to do, it’d be great to hear from you again, and if there’s anything else you need to know please just ask.