‘Nick the Greek’, the world’s most notorious gambler is perhaps one of the most well known examples of a person with problem gambling desperately chasing his losses – a sure way to cause yourself more harm and potentially get into even more debt.
Nick’s game was poker and he had a “career” in the game spanning 60 years, Nick won and lost more money than most of us could earn in a lifetime.
At one stage Nick was down $500 million, but he still found the excitement of gambling hard to resist. He falsely believed he could still win it back, he still needed the action, continued to chase his losses and lost more.
Desperately wanting to gamble more even when faced with such huge losses, clearly Nick’s case illustrates the powerful hold gambling can have over people.
Perhaps to begin with Nick had a good time with his poker mates? But as the losses continued, I wonder whether poker was so much fun and how many of his poker mates were his real friends?
‘Nick the Greek’ continued to gamble even when he was ‘broke’. He continued to play poker with just $5 and justified this by telling himself “it’s still action isn’t it?”
Is it possible that he felt ‘action’ only when he won? Something to consider is that gambling places stress on the body – emotionally and physically – it starts a chemical process in the brain where “winning” makes you feel ‘good’ and “losing” causes you to feel ‘bad’. Many gamblers talk about the highs and lows and how they became more desperate to win back all they had lost. Often it isn’t just the money, gamblers commonly see the next big win as the cure for family problems and relationship difficulties.
I wonder what else ‘Nick the Greek’ could have done with his $500 million? What other ways could he have spent the money to give him more enjoyment! When he was gambling did he ever think his retirement would be one marked by poverty?
Nick still tells himself he’s getting some action. Does he mean that this is the only way he has to relieve his boredom? Perhaps having distanced himself from his family and friends after years of gambling, gambling is all he has?
Perhaps he still finds the gambling entertaining, even though he is gambling at a ‘safe’ level? If the latter is true does it mean that anyone with heavy spending on problem gambling could implement ‘controlled’ gambling to minimize the harm to themselves and those around them?
If you practiced safe gambling, would you still feel the same way as ‘Nick the Greek’ and believe some action was better than none? Would it satisfy the urge and reduce the likelihood of causing greater harm?
Controlled gambling involves deciding on a limit and sticking to. It is sometimes difficult for people who are heavy gamblers to implement controlled gambling, but for some people it can get them back on track.
If you’d like to start controlled gambling, remember there is help available. Begin by contacting Gambling Help on 1800 858 858 for information and free materials. Controlled gambling strategies include only carrying the money that you intend to gamble, not carrying credit/ATM cards, lowering limits on these cards, having a support person, setting up direct debits for accounts that must be regularly paid, and being honest about where you are going and what you are doing.
Alternatively, the enormous losses of the notorious ‘Nick the Greek’ and his eventual impoverished retirement may encourage you to seek help with the aim of quitting gambling all together. If you know you have a problem with gambling and want to quit contact Gambling Help 1800 858 858.