Extract from the intro to the book I'm writing
Eyes wide shut, on all fours as i endlessly try to penetrate the ground below me with my clenched fist. In the hope of it knocking some XXX sense into my thick head. At just past 4am in the depths of the pitched black countryside, only 3 miles from home and I’m stranded. How had it come to this, I scream into the wilderness “Give me a XXX break” almost as if I was expecting a reply. Even the distant eyes of the restless cattle, couldn’t give a XXX monkeys about my situtation.
See all of this could have been prevented, in fact I had good intentions I swear… “One Last Bet ..Charlie, then we go home”. This had been the phrase that has ruined not only my life but has decimated my close family's lives.
After deciding that punching the floor was achieving the square root of XXX, I decided to stand up. But to add insult to injury as I clambered up onto the bonnet of my 15 year old Ford Focus, my hand almost slipped off the tyre. It was like something Lewis Hammilton would have been proud of it was that slick. XXX typical I thought, can things get any worse?
Just hours previously I had been on one of life’s high’s, winning at poker at a casino that was a 3 hour round trip - a trip I made at least 3 times a week. Whilst sat at the cash poker table, I had already spent my winnings in my head.
Despite what has been and gone before me, even to this day, I know that I am in a very small percentage of winning poker players. Latest estimates predicted that only 5% of people who play poker are actually profitable. This was something i was really proud off and would often gloat about it aswell, how XXX ironic is that? I mean at cash poker I hardly ever XXX lost. I used to spend hours on youtube researching people's body language and the amount of books I have read is nobody's business. I mean I should probably be automatically given a Degree.
Where this story starts to take a twist and gets ugly very fast, I very rarely left the casino with any poker winnings. Why? I hear you ask. One reason and one reason only, there was something wrong with my brain. I was horribly addicted to roulette. I still don't know why even to this day.
See, knowing that i struggle with an addiction I should have put petrol in on the way to the casino. That would have been the sensible thing to do! But when it comes to gambling addiction the word sensible is never used to describe a gambler. Being savvy I always leave a £10 note in the car for emergency purposes. By emergency I assume your thinking, at least he’s got some sense and has some money for petrol or food incase he loses it all. How wrong you would be. Whilst I started out with those intentions the moment I fell into the trance of roulette and the One more bet method, before you know it you, still in a trance I had been to the glove box in the car and grabbed the £10 almost in a zombie state. I head back in to take my seat next to my coffee that hasn't even been touched.
This time I'm adamant I can pick a winning number. I pick three of my lucky numbers, which by the way is nonsense. Every XXX zombie that plays roulette likes to think that they can predict where the ball will land from a certain number, and if it doesn't then its the croupiers fault or it was a bad spin. Dubbed the crack C*****e of gambling, I sit there amongst other addicts all manically trying to place chips as fast as they can on the numbers the have concucted in their XXX brainwashed heads that they think will be next. In the same trance, and oblivious to what is going on around me, I convince myself that the ball is going to spin from 5 into 17.
The croupier announces “Last bets”.
Completely hypnotised, I stand and lean over to stare at the ball spinning, constantly repeating in my head XXX go on 17.
“No more bets”.
The ball drops and bounces out of 17 into 25. This is where the likeness for a drug addict is comparative, I instantly start to sweat and have hot flushes, along with an instant urge to find more money for “One Last Bet”. Would I have enough points on my casino card to get a couple of quid? Did I have any more left in an account I hadn’t checked? I can only imagine this is a likeness of how a drug or alcohol addict behave when withdrawing. After all we all have addiction right?
My immediate thought is I XXX knew it was going to be in that area, your a XXX idiot for not covering it I said to myself. As I stand and walk towards the exit, I push through the double doors to be greeted by 2 security guards. I pleasantly smile and say good night gents. Subconsciously selling a lie to them as if I was walking out a winner having not blown poker winnings along with the contents of my bank account AGAIN. If only they knew the mask I was wearing was oh so thick and behind it was so much misery and torment.
As I sit in the car I punch the steering wheel as if that is going to make things better. I slowly start to come down from the zombie roulette trance and normal day things start to become a reality again. See for the time I was at the tables it was like my head was empty other than what number I thought would come next. I had absolutely no track of time, I would barely acknowledge anybody else, only some small talk to the dealer in the hope that somehow he would roll it where I wanted. Every single win or loss, I would convince myself that one last bet, one last trip to the cash machine and I would hit the big numbers.
I sit for a few minutes and imagine what the poker winnings could have done, it was the summer holidays and I had never taken my son abroad. These winnings could have paid for this, I had a payday loan that was due in two weeks, as a result of the last casino outing that ended exactly the same way. I had no idea where I was going to get the money from, the winnings could have also sorted this. Instead I sit and wallow in self pity, I turn on the ignition to see the petrol light on, it had come on about 10 miles ago. Shaking like a withdrawing smack head, I make my way slowly out of the car park. In my head I know I have to drive slow to try and make it home. The universe sends another message by putting road closure and diversion adding 10 miles to the already 30 mile trip.
Fast forward to the XXX storm that is my life, the dredded shuddering caused by the lack of petrol in the tank soon become apparent and I knew I was XXX. After pushing my car a few hundred metres into a layby, I kneel at the side of the car- Lost. Is this the point I give up? Is this how my life is always going to be? I decided to walk the winding hilly pitch black country roads, as I try to come up with the most relatable, believable story I could tell my wife when I got home. Not as if she hadn’t heard even XXX from me over the years. But it's ok, next time I would win it all back and things would be back to normal. All I had to do was put on the mask best fitted to the situation and hide my mental health, depression & anxiety problems from everyone close to me.
My name is Charlie, and for the last 10 years I have been living a lie, for the first time I can categorically say- I am a gambling addict, and this is my story.
First memory of gambling.
I suppose it's best to start where most videos on gambling self help tell you to start. See having never been to a shrink or reached out, I found my solace in youtube. I would spend hours watching videos and listening to podcasts. All trying to find a reason as to why I was like I was and how/if I could be fixed. Imagine craving sleep so bad, but you're too embarrassed to go and see a doctor for help.
In a way if you were to stereotype a person that would have a gambling problem, my background would hit all the checklist. Grew up in the poverty stricken coal mining valleys of South Wales. Spent a considerable amount of my teenage years in and out of care, or staying with my brothers grandparents- as my mother wasn’t so great and was in and out of the special hospital. My so called dad had XXX off with his mates Mrs, who used to babysit me and my brother and sister when mammy was having a short holiday on ward XXX 4. He had now become as reliant on amphetamine as she was, but it's ok because at the age of 11, I found out he wasn't my real dad anyway.
Anyway back to the gambling- this is my own personal thoughts and I can honestly say apart from my wife, who obviously found out in the end. I have never spoken about this to anyone. Although in the moment as a teenager you don't feel as if your affected, after all despite what the bullies put you through, I felt as if all the XXX I had been through didn’t affect me. I was different, I was going to be somebody.
Every year my brothers grandparents would take me and him to a holiday resort on the coast. Until I was about 14 this would be my only encounter with the arcade, In particular the bandits. Its like the flashing lights had me hypnotised and the thought that I could win a whole XXX fiver of 2p was something i looked forward to every summer. Little did I know that this would be the seed that sowed into a whole XXX nightmare some 15 years later down the line.
Tom grinned cheekily as he turned over pocket queens, thinking he was good he started to pull the chips to his direction. Not so fast sweetheart I said as I turned over kings to destroy his dreams there and then. Immediately feelings of angst and suppressed happiness filled my face as I waited for him to push the chips to me. That feeling of winning a hand in a poker game had been the illusive high that had me hooked, like a Bruce to chocolate cake. It was uncanny because like in a casino poker in Afghanistan had me oblivious to my surroundings. How the XXX can you forget that you are in a war zone just because you are playing a game of cards. The only other time I have experienced that complete lack of my surroundings, was when I was boxing for my regiment. Whilst I could see everyone and knew exactly where I was I could not hear or feel anything.
Before deploying to Afghanistan , I had never set foot in a casino neither had I any betting apps on my phone. The more I tense the tour became the more I focused my energy into understanding the game of poker. I'd say that I was quite analytical when it came to normal day to day tasks. This paid dividend whilst serving as a section commander in Helmand province, where I had to make life changing decisions in the blink of an eye. This thought process meant that whilst learning to play a lot faster than my peers.