Problem Gambler, Me?
I started to write this article yesterday, but the call to an online poker tournament interrupted me. I didn't win or place in the tounament, so I joined another and another, and another. At any rate, I'm out of money now, at least until I deposit more from my bank account, which online gambling sites have made oh-so-easy. I never put a coin in a slot machine until I was over 30. My sister, mom and I took a trip to Las Vegas. I took along $50.00. Fifty dollars 20 years ago was a lot of money, especially when you consider that I had a home, husband and two daughters to help support. I dropped 75 cents into a slot machine and won $1.25. From that point on I was hooked. I live in southern California and in those days there weren't casinos in nearly every town like there are today. When I wanted to gamble I had to drive to Laughlin, Nevada or Las Vegas. I didn't get back to a casino for another couple of years, so what little expendable income I had was safe. By the time I did get back to Las Vegas, slot machines had changed. I was astounded that the denominations of coin one could play in a slot machine had increased from penny, nickle and quarter to dollar. Of course, I tried my hand at the dollar machines. I had some success, but of course, mostly losses. Nevermind, I was convinced that if I played them enough, I would eventually win big. I didn't. On subsequent trips, I learned to play Blackjack. It's a great game, but didn't hold the thrill and excitement of playing slots. Sitting in front of a slot machine, with nothing but the free drinks and my pack of cigarettes seemed to take me away from the present. The world belonged to just the machine and me. Once in a while, I'd hit a nice-sized jackpot, but overall, I still lost lots of money. About 8 years ago, while on another jaunt to Laughlin, Nevada, I ventured into the "High Roller Room" at the casino I always stayed at. In this room I discovered that I could bet in higher increments. My machine of choice was a $5.00 slot where two tokens were required to be eligible for the jackpot. So, at $10 a pop, I played my little heart out, and lost even more money. When a Native American casino opened in a town in California, not far from where I was living, I would drive an hour or so to it every couple of months. I continued to play slot machines, I continued to lose. I knew that online casinos existed, but was always fearful of trying them. I told myself that they might not be safe, but I think that in the back of my mind there was a nagging suspicion that I could not trust myself using them. I was right. I started playing online casinos about a year ago, and my life has changed. What started out as a fun diversion quickly became something that consumed me. I started out playing Blackjack. With live dealers through video feeds, I had the feel of being in a live casino. I soon found myself gambling everyday, all day. The online casinos make it so simple to tap into your bank account and continue to play--even when you're losing. Seems all gamblers have the mentality that they need to make up their losses. When you're on a lucky streak, you keep playing. When you're on a losing streak, you keep chasing. I had never heard of Texas HoldEm poker till last year. I had decided that if loved Blackjack and casino environments so much, why not learn to deal? I not only learned to deal Blackjack, but also Poker. I found myself so intrigued with poker that I started playing it online. It's been a roller coaster ride ever since. I've had stunning wins, but equally stunning losses. About six months ago I admitted to myself that I, indeed, am a problem gambler. Admitting this fact and doing something about it are two different things. I keep thinking that if I could win just one big tounament then I could use that money to win back some of my losses. I'm not stupid. I know I'm deceiving myself with this thinking. I know there are resources available for problem gamblers, I just don't know if I'm ready to quit. Will I be like an alcoholic who has to reach rock bottom before I quit? Will I lose everything to this addiction? I'd say it's even odds.