My Life As A Gambler

I have been involved in gambling for basically my whole life in one way or the other. At the age of 15 me and a few of my best friends launched a betting ‘syndicate’ and decided to crush our local books big time. A few months later reality had caught up on us and we had lost all our money. It was a significant sum for a 15-year old and I was hard pressed to explain that to my parents! Looking back from a distance now we were naïve at that time, to say the least. We have comitted the same mistakes over and over again to make sure not to end up with a profit. However I don’t blame us now. We just didn’t know better.

By the time I was 20 I was excessively gambling in casinos. I was especially addicted to Black Jack – a card game – and was convinced I had an edge over the house, which of course was ridiculous thinking. I was a compulsive gambler and had lost four figure sums in a matter of a few weeks. In one of my last attempts to enter a casino I was asked for a proof of income by the staff members (this was required by law). I was a student without a regular income, so of course couldn’t provide such a piece of paper. As a consequence I was banned from casinos for the time being. Desperately I was seeking an opportunity to satisfy my gambling needs and gladly came across a casino platform on the internet. I managed to lose another four figure sum in a very short period of time and couldn’t believe my bad luck. In terms of money my grandma helped me out so I could somewhat hide the big losses in front of my parents, although I knew they must have smelled that something wasn’t right with me. In fact I was in deep trouble!

At the age of 22 I took a 20h/week job as a staff member for a local bookmaker. The job itself was cool as I could watch sports all day long which suited my interests very well. The loan was moderate, but at least it provided a regular income. That came just at the right time as I had literally run out of money and were now able to chase my gambling habits again. Years of excessive gambling followed regularly losing all of my income plus a little extra putting my bank account deep into the red numbers. It was pretty much game over at that time both financially and mentally.

It was a cold October evening then at one of our biweekly American football practices. After practice a team-mate and good friend of mine approached me and told me that he recently signed up with an internet poker platform called Poker Stars and that he had already earned a significant amount of money by his standards. This immediately caught my attention and I sensed a fresh gambling opportunity. At that moment I didn’t know that I would soon become a professional poker player.

At the same evening I hastily signed up with Poker Stars and deposited €100 into my account. It turned out that it was the first and the last time I needed to deposit any money into a poker account out of my own pocket. Although I was still a complete novice at the poker tables I had a feeling that this time was different. At about the same time I switched my academic studies from physics to statistics, which turned out to be another golden decision. And then suddenly the tide turned, at least in terms of money…

I was completely caught by the poker boom back in 2000 and was basically playing poker 24/7. I was very passionate about it, not to say obsessive. I had gone through 10 poker books in just a few days and the learning curve was extremely steep in the beginning. The statistics study supplemented my poker education very well. Slowly, but surely my mind began to transform my attitude from a deterministic-losing one into a probabilistic-winning attitude. Casino games and poker are both games of chance. For all casino games (black jack, roulette, craps, etc.) the house has a mathematical advantage which vanishes all profits one might have accumulated in the long run. For poker on the other hand – as well as for sportsbetting – the edge can be on your side. I could nearly feel the edge I had over other players and the tables were full of fishes (a synonym used for losing players) back then. A usual session lasted around 7-8 hours and began at around 10pm when the US fishes arrived from work and lasted until 5am in the morning when they finished their last bottle of beer with their last few $$$ on the table. At that time I was basically eating, drinking, living poker 24/7. I quit my part time job and was literally relying on my income from playing poker. If I had a meeting with friends I was usually cancelling that because I had better things to do! If I had to eat I was usually preparing a frozen pizza and swallowed that in three or four bites while looking at the screen. I was playing poker at the toilet with my laptop on my knees, I was playing poker at McDonald’s eating fast food and I was playing poker at Christmas when I went home visiting my family.

After a few years of being in stealth mode and tied to the computer, having gained more than 20kg in weight (no muscles), running around like a zombie after barely sleeping 3 hours per night and having lost almost all of my social life I came to realize that by all the independence and financial advantages it has I don’t want such a life. Having acquired lots of useful knowledge through my studies over the years  I was thinking of quitting poker for good and searching for a new profession. Punting has always been my deepest passion (poker was not by the way), so it came quite naturally to revert back and have another crack at sportsbetting. This time, however, I was armed with powerful knowledge and a completely different approach to gambling.

And so here I am, entering my 6th season as a full-time professional sports bettor. I have to admit it is still a JOB and I need to make sacrifices especially on the weekends, but being your own boss and doing something for a living that is beyond the imagination of most people is truly fascinating. The way I go about my betting is very math-driven. Never will you see me placing a bet based on just my gut feeling, I will always back up my decisions with hard facts and numbers. My passion for sports and statistics have helped me tremendously in maintaining an edge over the bookies and I’m hopefully able to do this for the time being.

This blog is thought of as a personal diary, really. A place where I can collect my ideas & thoughts for later review. If someone else is interested she is very welcome to follow, but mind that the articles will sometimes be rather math-driven. I will be covering both the technical as well as the mental side of gambling or quite generally everything that helped me being successful at betting.

Constructive feedback is welcome! Have fun!

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