The Gambler

An Interview With an Addict

Q: How did you get into gambling?

A: I took a road trip with my brother and my uncle out to Colorado, and every night we’d stop and play cards for five to six hours a night. They’re the ones who taught me. It wasn’t too competitive. It was more like 50 cents and dollars. And then the stakes started increasing a little bit. I was probably up to win or lose $50 a night by the time I was 17. By the time I was 18, win or lose $400-$500 a night. As for the evolution of the game, we started off playing lots of wild card games and draw poker. As the stakes got higher and higher, we played fewer and fewer games. It’s pretty much limited down to Texas Hold’em.

Q: Why poker?

A: It’s all about mathmatics and psychology, combined with decision-making and self-control. You have to gauge what your opponents’ behavior suggests—that’s the psychology part of it. You have to take the information, quantify it, and calculate your odds—that’s the mathematical part of it. And then you have to have the self-control to make the right decisions, and not get upset when the right decision turns out defective. When you play roulette, the odds tell you that the house is going to win most of the time. When you play craps, the house is going to win most of the time. When you play poker, it depends on how well you play. It’s really neat how there’s a poker community in every city. It’s a subculture. There are places where I’ll go in the city, sit down and be familiar with people that I would otherwise have no reason to interact with, and have some very enjoyable conversations with some random people that otherwise I have absolutely nothing in common with.

Q: How much do you play each week?

A: It depends, I know people who’ll play 40 hours a week. You know, 40 hours sounds like a lot, but you get it done in very strange times. I have buddies who just last week played from 4 in the afternoon until 4 in the afternoon. Me personally? I play close to around 20 hours. I try not to do it everyday.

Q: Right now, how much money could you win or lose?

A: I’d say any given day I could lose $300-$400 dollars. Or win it. But you’ll find that anyone who is a consistent player doesn’t lose...much. I lost $500 in the last couple of days, but I’m still about even for the year because if you play a lot you can’t afford to lose all the time. If you wanna keep playing, it just can’t be too expensive for you to play. What happens with the regulars is that the money gets mostly pushed around in a circle. So the only way they’re going to make any money playing poker is to invite new people who aren’t good. That’s how it works—it’s very, very social until people come in and play, lose some money, and then leave. When stakes are low—say I lose $50 in a night—the thing that happens is that the people who win those games go on to the next stakes. It’s very progressive.