Everything You've Wanted to Know about Gambling from an Insider

If someone told me 27 years ago when I made my first wager that when you are 39 years old you will lose everything and be in place where there are no freedoms, I would have told them that they were crazy because I am an intelligent person and I can "control" my gambling. The fact of the matter is the gambling took over my life and ruined it and ruined the lives of my family. It is an insidious addiction; I did things that no rational person would do. I didn’t think of the consequences and I am here to tell anyone that will listen that there are serious consequences for all of my horrible actions.

My name is Paul and I am compulsive gambler, it has been over three years since my last bet. Three years ago I didn't realize I was a compulsive gambler; however; when I was confronted by my employer for embezzling it finally "hit" me that I am and will always be a compulsive gambler.

I am currently attending Gamblers Anonymous meetings and I have been attending these meetings for the past three years. Normally having access to a Gamblers Anonymous meeting is not a problem however for over a year and a half of those three years I was incarcerated in the California prison system so the meetings were brought to me by my incredible friends in the Gamblers Anonymous Program. I have lost a great career (incidentally in the Gaming business), I lost all my material possessions (house, car, bank account, etc.) but I found myself and my family has stood by me this entire time.

I threw away a great life so I could always be in "action". Having worked in the Gaming Industry for 13 years I wouldn't dare go near a slot machine or a table game. My game of choice was sports betting because I knew (or I thought I knew) that sports betting had the lowest house percentage so I stood a chance to win. However; winning and losing became superfluous it only mattered whether I had action. Of course I lost a great deal more than I won so I had to fuel the addiction with money and addicts will do anything to get their fix and I did anything and everything to perpetuate my fantasy life.

I have no desire to make a wager but I do understand that this is a disease and it will be with me all of my life. Gamblers Anonymous continues to help me everyday and having a sponsor that went through a similar situation 17 years ago also helps. Three years ago I was staring into a dark tunnel; however; slowly but surely a light was at the end of that tunnel. On February 27th of this year the light turned into brilliant sunshine as I was released from my 19 month prison sentence. My incredible wife of 15 years was there to greet me and at the end of June we will all be a family once again. I so look forward to being a husband and a dad once again. My life in recovery is wonderful.

Questions and Answers

by Trung Nguyen

Welcome back, Paul. I remember you when this site was GamblingHelper.com. It was a much busier site back then, but it lost the traffic when I switched to a different content management system software and in the process lost hundreds of forum posts. I’ve tried saving as many posts as possible and apologize if some of your forum (temporarily disabled) posts were lost. So, some of the following questions/answers may be repetitive for those who were around when this site was GamblingHelper.com.

How did you end up in prison?

I systemically stole from my employer (Pechanga Resort & Casino) over a period of two years to perpetuate my compulsive gambling addiction. I rose to a level of trust within in my position with the Casino and abused that level of trust so I could gamble. When it was all said and done I embezzled nearly $500,000 from my employer and I spent 19 months in the California Prison System.

How were you introduced to gambling? At what point did you become addicted to it?

When I was 12 years old my parents along with my sisters and I went to a racetrack in Pennsylvania. I learned how to read the racing form and I remember vividly that first wager. I wagered $2 to show (meaning the horse had to come in either first, second or third) on the 4 horse in the 3rd race. I wanted to bet the horse to win (meaning it could only come in first in order to win the wager) but my mother talked me out of it. The horse went on to win and paid $32 to win but only $6 to show. I did technically make $4 on the wager but I was upset that I didn't win the $30 so I told my mother I would never bet another horse to show again and in 25 plus years of gambling I never bet another horse to show. There was a certain feeling inside of me when that race was going on and I had wagered on the horse. I didn't realize it then but four years later when I was 16 I was introduced to sports betting by one of the managers at the grocery store where I worked. He would always talk about his bets and I was very interested.

One November night I asked if I could place some wagers with him on a few NBA basketball games. A friend of mine and I picked five games to wager on and we wagered $25 a piece. We proceeded to lose all five of those games but I was hooked from the start. This was well before the Internet and the only way to get scores was to listen to the all news station which would give the scores at fifteen minutes past the hour and fifteen minutes before the hour. Unbeknownst to me at the time I loved the action and all I could think about was getting the scores of the game. Instead of being upset that we lost all five games we were back at it the next night and we were more successful by the end of the week we won back all our losses and had a small profit. This was the beginning of a battle with compulsive gambling for the next 20 plus years.

At some point you were aware, like many compulsive gamblers, that you should stop but couldn’t. What do you think were the causes of the impulsivity?

I remember a very lucid moment among the chaos. I was tucking my daughter into her bed and after talking with her for a few minutes I kissed her goodnight and said to myself I love you very much in spite of what I am doing. I was referring to the lying, cheating and stealing that was going on which no one was aware of. I would like to pinpoint the root cause of my impulsivity but I do believe I was born predisposed to compulsive addictions. I am compulsive in most things I do such as my diet and exercise. I have not eaten a piece of red meat in the past 18 years and I am obsessive about my exercise regimen. Thankfully in recovery my obsessions are tempered and I do my best to maintain a positive focus of these obsessions. I do believe my compulsive gambling addiction is something in my DNA but this does not mean I must act on my compulsive gambling addiction all my life. I know I am a compulsive gambler but now through recovery I am grateful to be a compulsive gambler in recovery.

Can you describe some of the thought processes that were going through your mind at the lowest point of the addiction?

This is a fantastic question and one I have been asked on a number of occasions. I do not have a very good answer because my thinking was that of an insane person. My definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. I would gamble everyday and steal everyday thinking I would be a winner but there was never and would be never a big enough win to make me stop. I remember in the last days before everything became public I was under investigation for my embezzling. Circumstances had the bank's investigator investigate me directly which meant in my irrational thinking that I could talk my way out of the situation. I was thinking how I could talk my way out and still continue to do the things I was doing. In retrospect this made no sense but at the time I needed that next wager.

In prison, did you meet other people who were in a similar circumstance as yourself?

I met so many people who were suffering with addictions; be it alcohol, drugs, gambling or a combination. I would venture to guess that 90% of the people I encountered in prison had some type of a compulsive addiction. It was sad because in the California State Prison system there is no incentive for rehabilitation and many of these people had been to prison multiple times. California has the highest recidivist [Recidivist: A person who relapses, especially by returning to criminal behavior] percentage of any other state. Something like 70% of all inmates return to prison within three years. I can understand why because nothing is done to help people with addictions. I do know that the only person who can make a difference is the person with the addiction who wants help. Thankfully, prior to coming to prison I entered a program of recovery; Gamblers Anonymous and the wonderful people in the program even brought the meetings to me while I was in prison as we had meetings every other Sunday.

What was prison like?

Prison was an experience I won't forget. The simple tasks of going to the bathroom, taking a shower, brushing my teeth, shaving, cooking dinner and other "little'" things were made monument-us. My freedom was taken away (through no fault of anyone but myself) and I was separated from my wife and children for 19 months. This was the most difficult part for me being separated from my family. In those 19 months I was only able to see my 9 year old daughter and 6 year old son once. I was able to see my wife of 15 years twice doing that time frame. Other than being separated from my family prison really wasn't that bad. I spent 30 days in the County Jail waiting to be transferred to the State Prison and those 30 days were the worst. I wasn't allowed to go outside at anytime and the food was awful. I mentioned my vegetarian diet to the doctor on the staff and he just laughed at me. I hated coming out of my cell into the common (day room) area because there were constant fights. Fortunately all through my prison experience I remained fight free.

All I would do in those first 30 days were to read and write. This was my therapy and saving grace all through the process. From the county jail I was transferred to a reception center where I couldn't use a telephone for the next 2 1/2 months. However; I was grateful because twice a week I was able to get outside for 2 hours. I got a job cooking oatmeal in the kitchen for breakfast and got into a good routine as the time passed. The next stop was a "real" prison with 20 foot high concrete fences, razor wires and gun towers. I watched while another inmate got shot from one of these gun towers. Amazingly this stop was better than the previous two stops. I was able to get a job as a Physical Fitness Training Instructor and I was able to be outside all day long running and exercising while leading a class of fellow inmates. I was at this prison for 7 months and the time also went quickly.

I continued to read and write but adding exercise was a huge bonus for me. The downside to this prison was I shared a dormitory with 35 other inmates and the dormitory was designed for only 16 people. I learned how to sit on my bunk and tone everything out. The next and final stop was at a Fire Camp. Gone were the concrete walls, razor wire, gun towers and locks. These were replaced with an open area in a mountain setting. I was able to connect with like minded fellow inmates and the 9 months I resided here went the quickest. I met so many people and I realized that everyone is inherently good. I believe everyone makes mistakes and it is not for me to judge anyone. I was able to connect with my incredible GA friends as they came up every two weeks for what I labeled a GA meeting/visit. This was magnificent and I am so blessed.

Has your view of yourself, of those around you, and of the world changed before you went to prison, while you were in prison, and after you left prison? If yes, can you provide examples?

The view of myself has changed all throughout this process. Before I went to prison my self esteem was very low yet I thought I was better than everyone else. As I entered recovery and the GA Program I learned to love myself and love everyone else as well. I took this principle with me to prison and it wasn't easy. I faced some adversity like people getting beat up left and right but I remained positive seeing good in everyone and myself. Fortunately in the 19 months of my incarceration I never ran into any problems. Quite the contrary; I was very nice to everyone and everyone was very nice to me.

Now as I have entered the "free world" my smile is wider and brighter than it has ever been. The sky is bluer, the grass is greener and the air clearer. I love the fact that can either open or close a door. The simplistic things mean so much to me like hugging my wife and children. I am 42 years old and I realized through the last 19 months how fast life goes even when I wasn't doing very much. It is up to me to make the most of each and everyday. I do my best everyday and hope to never take anything for granted again. 19 months ago I seemed to have stepped off of this planet into a foreign orb. I didn't know the language (prison language is much different than what I have been used to) and I didn't know the customs. Somehow I learned enough to stay out of trouble and keep my head down.

Now my head is held high knowing I am on the proper path to a positive recovery. I don't care about placing a wager when 3 years ago this is all I was focused on. I am focused on my family and recovery. I have two children a daughter who is 10 and a son who is 7; they grow up so quickly. I am very fortunate to have an AMAZING wife who has stood by me the entire time. In a few months they will return to California where we will be altogether for the first time in two years. I love the fact that I can talk and email with them on a daily basis but I can't wait to be with them. Life has so many twists and turns and gratefully my twists and turns continue to workout for the best. I do believe I have changed but this change has been positive.

What plans do you have for staying gambling free?

The Program of recovery called Gamblers Anonymous. On February 28th, 2005 I placed my last wager and through the principles of the Program I remain gamble free. I not only remain gamble free my life continues to get better. I have written most everyday in my blog for the past 3 years and this was the case while I was in prison. I was able to hand write the passages and my wife, mother, and a dear friend would transcribe my "chicken scratch" onto the blog. I continue to chronicle my daily existence as a "check" to myself. As long as I work the Gamblers Anonymous Program which means to live one day at a time my life continues to get better.

Have your family and friends been supportive of you through the ordeal? Do they understand why you did the things you did?

My family and friends have been AMAZING to say the least. My wife has stood by me ever since the beginning. She told me early on that "we will get through this together" and we continue to get through this together. My mother has been unbelievable with all the support she has given me. My younger sister has been with me every step of the way with support. My father and sister were very hurt early on but as time has moved by they too have been extremely supportive. Yes, I have lost some "friends" along the way but I have gained so many lifelong friends. I now know the true meaning of friends and unconditional love. I am surrounded with unconditional love and I am eternally grateful.

You worked at the Pechanga Resort & Casino. Were there any memorable gambling stories or gamblers that stick to mind?

There are several stories but two come to mind. I worked as the Financial Controller for the casino so my dealings with the customers on the casino floor were few and far between. However; our department (yes, I still refer to it as "our" I guess old habits are hard to die!) was responsible for cutting any large jackpot checks and I mean "large" as in $50,000 or over. One day the Accounts Payable Supervisor was lamenting to me that she was so angry at a customer who had won two large jackpots in a 24 hour period. The first jackpot was for $126,000 and the second jackpot was for $178,000. The Accounts Payable Supervisor couldn't believe one person could be that lucky because she had never won anything like that herself. (Of course the A/P Supervisor rarely gambled but that is besides the point.) After hearing her go on for a few minutes I said, don't feel bad for yourself because I would guarantee you that this person who won these jackpots is probably still behind. I then went into the player tracking database and pulled up this customer's won and loss statement for the year. Yes, much as I thought this person was still behind over $1,000,000 in spite of winning those two jackpots. The A/P Supervisor didn't feel bad for herself after seeing this. This illustrates one of the many ironies or disconnects for me. I know the gaming (a.k.a. gambling) business very well from the standpoint of an operator yet I still became a compulsive gambler. I knew to stay away from the casinos but I couldn't stop myself from betting sports. I always thought I would have an edge but this thought was seriously flawed because I needed the action and the action took me down the road to ruin so to speak.

The second story involved how a 21 dealer received over $20,000 in tip during an hour shift. This dealer was working in the high limit area and one player got on a roll. This player was winning and winning big. While the player was winning big he tipped exceptionally well. At first we thought the dealer was doing something fishy but upon investigation this was not the case. The player was very gracious with his winning and the dealer reaped the benefits. After the dealer went off shift the player continued to gamble and instead of winning lost and lost big. Long story short the Casino Manager had to give this player $20 for a cab ride home. Yes, the house always wins!!!

If someone believed that they can make a living gambling, what would you tell them? And the reasons behind it.

I wish them the best because at one point in my life I thought I could do this but there is no way I could do this. There are people who making a living at gambling and it is much like being a professional basketball player. Look at all the people who play basketball in their lifetimes yet only a minute percentage make to the NBA. I couldn't fathom being in a casino, racetrack or any other gambling establishment trying to make a living. It may sound glamorous but quite the contrary the people who do make a living are anything but glamorous and have very unpleasant dispositions. I would much rather be in a position where I can help others while helping myself. Anyone who intends to be a "professional" gambler is in it only for themselves.

Can you share with us some of the marketing techniques that the casino industry uses to introduce people to gambling and to keep them gambling?

The casino industry is great at marketing to a certain segment. They know their customers very well and some know them too well. Eighty percent of the money earned by the casino is made by twenty percent of the customers. These customers are well known as the casino knows their birthdays, anniversaries, children's name and ages among many other personal things. The bigger customers have a host who basically caters to their every need. The hosts job is to keep the customer gambling longer because the longer the gambler gambles the higher the edge for the house. There are other marketing techniques such as the "free" buffet dinner or "free" gift at the slot reward center. There is no such thing as "free" in the casino as everything has a cost. The buffets are designed to get the customer in and out as soon as possible so they can return to gambling. The "free" play coupon is meant to entice the gambler into playing. Once the gambler has the "bug" they will continue to gamble and the house will win.

You’ve noted that “I do believe my compulsive gambling addiction is something in my DNA…” If what you’ve noted is true, and research does back up what you’ve noted, then are you aware of any other way, besides Gamblers Anonymous, that can help you change your compulsive nature?

I believe I was predisposed to be a compulsive gambler as there is probably something in my DNA with this predisposition. There is always talk of the "pill" which would take away the urge to gamble. Maybe at some point in my life I would have wanted the pill but having experienced and continue to experience the GA Program I know compulsive gambling is a "learned inadequate response to life". I tried to conquer my compulsive gambling addiction by myself but failed miserably. I need the 12 steps of GA and I need to live a spiritually positive life. Without these principles I am back to thinking I am better than everyone and I am not. In summary, for me there is no other way besides GA for me to change my compulsive nature. GA continues to teach me a new way of life which has changed my compulsive gambling nature in a positive manner.

In your opinion, do you think that compulsive gambling is more of a physical disease, psychological illness, a moral weakness (character flaw) or a combination? If you answer “a combination”, then rank the possible causes from 1 to 3.

I believe compulsive gambling is physical disease and psychological illness. Compulsive gambling (in my opinion) is NOT a moral weakness; I don't even know what "moral weakness" means. I believe everyone is born with goodness inside of them and somehow life gives each of us little tests. If a person gambles uncontrollably for a long period of time then they have a "moral" weakness, I think not. There is something compelling the compulsive gambler to gamble. I know for myself I had physical symptoms of withdrawal when I didn't have my bets places. My palms would sweat and my legs would shake. I have never done an illegal drug in my life but I have read that the compulsive gambling addiction is much like a cocaine addict as they both offer similar characteristics. There aren't any "substances" ingested by the compulsive gambler but I can say from firsthand experience my brain was acting very funny when I was gambling out of control. There are physical and most certainly psychological characteristics in a compulsive gambler. In my case these two went hand in hand. Thankfully, through GA these characteristics have been replaced with a system of recovery and I continue to recover each and everyday. The physical symptoms are gone and I continue to work on my psychological characteristics.

How does the casino keep track of how much money people have won or lost? How are records of these people initiated, stored, and used? It sounds like the casinos are keeping a tab on these people (the 20% who make 80% of the profit for them).

The casino's goal is to have each patron (customer) enroll in their Rewards Club Program. There are some very good incentives for the customer to enroll and when they enroll the casino then can track their every move. These cards are used in every area of the casino. Harrah's has probably one of the best rewards club programs as it can be used at all their properties not only in the United States but around the world. Once the patron inserts into the slot machine the casino knows how much the person has won or lost (which is usually the case). On the table games such as blackjack, craps, roulette, baccarat these cards are given to the pit boss who then monitors the player calculating their amount of play which gives the player's won and loss.

There are some very intricate player tracking systems out there and some are very expensive. These include having mini computer chips embedded into the casino chips, this way the casino knows where all the chips are at any given point. The advances in this area have been huge but the cost is still prohibitive at this stage which is why many casinos stick with the manual tracking of players for the table games. The bigger players (the 20%) usually are assigned a Casino Host who is their personal servant if you will. The Casino Hosts cater to these players with lavish gifts ranging from free rooms to free transportation to and from the casino on a private jet. These players are scrutinized every step of the way. Many of the Casino Host's bonuses are tied to these players win and loss. The Casino Hosts get a percentage of the loss and yes, most of them (in fact almost all of them) do lose.

Your game of choice was sports betting. Where is the house's advantage in sports betting so that no matter much a person is an expert at any game it's hard for them to win?

The ultimate goal of the sportsbook is to have an equal amount wagered on both teams in any given contest. In order to win $100 a player must wager $110, the $10 is called vigorish or the house's percentage. In a perfect world for example using this year's Super Bowl; the public would wager $1,100 on the Patriots and $1,100 on the Giants. Since the Giants won and covered the point-spread the Sportsbook would pay out $1,000 keeping the $100 as their profit. This is 10% which is a very good profit margin. However; this rarely happens and usually the sportsbook has some exposure on one of the teams. Meaning (for example) if $1,100 was wagered on the Giants and only $550 was wagered on the Patriots the sportsbook would have lost $450 when the Giants won the game. Usually the "hold" (which means the house's advantage) for sportsbooks is between 2 and 5 percent which is the lowest house advantage in a casino. I will address the other games hold percentages in a later question.

Let's go back to SuperBowl XLII (42), New England Patriots vs. New York Giants. What goes through a bettor's mind when betting on a game like that? What things do they look for and what are the errors in their thinking/assumptions?

This is a bad example because the Super Bowl to a "serious" also known as a compulsive gambler is like New Year's Eve to an alcoholic; it is amateur hour. The Super Bowl is only one game and the "line" (point-spread) is set two weeks prior to the game. Usually the point-spread is right on as the goal of the linemaker is to get an equal amount of bets on both teams thus ensuring the house's 10% profit margin. Taking this example a little further; several years ago the sportsbooks started to add more betting options to the Super Bowl like betting on who would win the coin toss or how would score the first touchdown and so many other "proposition" wagers.

A serious bettor would try to find an advantage in one of these bets and then place their wager. A better example of finding an advantage in the point-spreads would be a Saturday during the college basketball season. There are sometimes upwards of 100 games and the linesmakers only have a short period of time to set the lines on these games. Invariably the linesmakers will make a mistake and the serious also known as "professional" gamblers will find these mistakes and believe they will have an advantage. Say Georgetown is playing Seton Hall and the linesmakers believe Georgetown should win the game by 7 points so the line is Georgetown -7 which means they should win the game by 7 points or more and this is the opinion of the linesmakers. Now the "serious" bettor believes Georgetown should only win by 3 points so in the serious bettor's mind they have a 4 point advantage. This means Georgetown can still win the game but by a smaller margin. Some of these serious bettors are successful. I can say unequivocally in my case I did find some of these mistakes in the point spreads but I had to have "action" all the time so instead of taking one or two games where I thought I had an advantage I would bet 25 to 30 games on a Saturday because I had to satisfy my need for "action".

Have you ever personally known anyone who made a living gambling?

Yes, I have known a few gentlemen who made a living gambling and I must say these guys weren't the most social fellas I have ever met. They were very disciplined and if there was a day where there weren't any "mistakes" in the point spreads they wouldn't place a wager. When I first started I thought I could do this but it lasted only a few days. I am a compulsive gambler and a compulsive gambler needs o be in action all the time. A compulsive gambler can never make a living gambling because a compulsive gambler cannot just walk away without placing a wager. These guys and there are very few who are successful are very disciplined and apply strong money management techniques. They are always looking for an edge and if there isn't an edge they walk away.

I used to frequent a lot of casinos and noticed that dealers/employees at one casino would visit other casinos to gamble. Is this something that you've witnessed in the industry?

Usually this a regulation instituted by the casino which means their employees are not allowed to gamble where they work. The casino's don't want any appearance of impropriety which is why they restrict gambling by their own employees. I once worked for a property in Las Vegas they did this upon its opening but as time went on the foot traffic diminished they opened it up to employees but if you worked in the slot area you couldn't play the slots only table games and vice versa. I have always been in management positions and have been prohibited from gambling in the casino where I worked. This is usually the case for all management positions. An interesting fact is that people who work in a casino are 30% more likely to become a compulsive gambler than someone who does not. Compare this with the 5% number of the general population and the number is staggering. One would think a person who works for the casino would know better than to gamble because the house always wins but my theory (which is the case for me) is people who work for the casinos think they know better than everyone else and they can win which is certainly not the case.

Why can't a person make money at the casinos playing games such as poker, blackjack, roulette, etc.?

A person can make a living playing poker because they are not playing against the house they are playing against other players. However; this goes back to being disciplined and very conservative. It is a very difficult way to make a living and I certainly don't want to spend 12, 14 or 18 hours in a smoke filled poker room everyday. The other games such as blackjack have such a high "hold" percentage for the house. For every $100 the house takes in at the blackjack table they payout $79 meaning they earn $21 for every $100. The hold percentage is even higher for roulette; for every $100 the house pays out $75 meaning they earn $25 for every $100. Craps is somewhere between these two games depending on the rules established by the casino. The slot machines have a lower hold percentage because they have a higher volume of play. However; the term "hold" percentage means the house "holds" the advantage in all of the games which is why the house always wins. This doesn't mean people lose all the time because if people lost all the time I doubt much of the general population would venture into a casino. There is always that "hope" of the big win which brings people back. Sadly for the compulsive gambler is there is NEVER a big enough win and the desperation is endless.

This is what you've noted, " A person can make a living playing poker because they are not playing against the house they are playing against other players." However, Stephen Katz the author of Gambling Facts and Fictions: The Anti-Gambling Handbook to get yourself to stop gambling, quit gambling or never start gambling has noted:

Here is an example of how the gambling house will always win all the money from all of the players. Five players sit-in on an on-line poker game each with a $20 bankroll for a total at the website table of $100. Let's say the average pot is $10 and the rake is 5% or 50 cents per hand. Let's say 200 hands are played which does not take that long. After 200 hands, that 50 cents rake per hand totals $100 which is the entire amount that all of the players started with at the website table. Of course not all of the players go broke at the exact same time and fresh money can come into the game. But sooner or later each gambler will eventually lose their $20 bankroll every time without exception. If bringing in $20, that will also eventually be lost. Every amount brought in will eventually be lost through continued play. Those are the facts in a nutshell. Any honest mathematician, statistician, or numbers expert who understands the game of poker, would not dispute the example in this paragraph.

What is your view on what Mr. Katz has written?

This is a wonderful point and I wasn't looking at it from purely the mathematical perspective. I do agree that the house is always a winner especially in poker where they have no exposure (meaning the house is just collecting "rent" also known as the "rake" hosting the poker game). There are certain elements of poker which require skill (which by the way I have never attempted nor do I ever want to attempt) and this gives certain players an edge over the less "skilled" players. I don't know the quantitative analysis associated and I won't pretend I know. There are people who somehow make a living playing poker and I do believe most of these people play "live" poker as opposed to on-line poker. There are many more hands dealt per hour on-line than in a "live" session. The casinos try to instill in their poker dealers more hands per hour which gives the house more revenue per hour. I don't know of anyone personally making a living playing poker and I have always been leery of the on-line poker sites because how do I know I am playing against 5 independent people. For all I know this could be the people who host the website. Anyhow; the house does have the edge in both the live version and the on-line version. Mathematics is certainly against the players and Mr. Katz is completely correct.

Any parting words for our readers?

If someone you know or if you have a gambling problem please seek assistance. Each state has a Problem Gambling Council and Gamblers Anonymous does have meetings in just about every state. Help is out there but it has to come from within. It took me having handcuffs wrapped around me to finally realize I have a problem. It doesn't have to be this drastic because my life without gambling is so much better than a life with gambling. If you treat someone with a compulsive gambling addiction please listen and focus in on the person. There is no need to make judgments because people are people and everyone makes mistakes. A compulsive gambler is NOT morally weak nor is a compulsive gambler "no good"; everyone is good and life can and does get better in recovery. My life continues to get bet better with each passing day. My life is filled with blessings and each day I embrace those blessings.

Thank you very much for allowing me to share my thoughts, please be well.


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