A friend of a friend is a professional gambler. He puts it about everywhere. On the dogs, the football, horses. He even goes down the bingo.
I was flabbergasted when he confidently told me that he doesn’t monitor his spend and although he considers himself a full on professional gambler, he reckons he’s probably far more down than up, winnings-wise. In my mind I couldn’t hep surmising that this technically made him a loser, but I didn’t think it appropriate at the time to point this out, I’d only just met him.
Anyway, I thought the whole idea was that if you were professional at something you had studied it and implemented mechanisms to measure your performance. But not him. Will he start to monitor it in the future, I asked. Maybe. Perhaps one day, he said. Wow.
This cavalier attitude got me thinking about all the losers I see conglomerating outside the betting shops that consume Barking’s town centre. I pass these guys every day on the way home from work. Sipping from tins of Kestrel or Red Stripe while they pass around the Skunk and converse in pidgin Yoruba, thick Gaelic or Essex Eastend. When you see this sort of unity it makes you wonder how the BNP get any sort of foothold in Barking at all. Gambling is good. Greed is good.
But I ask myself if these guys are any worse than those who lose all their money spreading bets in these new Casino’s such as the one which hovers menacingly over Westfield Stratford. Are they any lower than the people who stay up late to flush all their money away on ITV’s through-the-night money spinning gameshows? What about the people who play online Poker and secretly engulf themselves in an abyss of debt at glamorous online gaming sites.
Another friend of mine met a Hungarian woman on Facebook two years ago with whom he spends hours talking to on Skype. A Poker player himself he promises me he has learned to speak Hungarian from a combination of talking to her and spending a fortune on the Hungarian version of Party Poker. Is this life?
I’ve never placed a bet in my life, not even a flutter on the Grand National or the Cup Final. I’ve never played those through-the-night TV scams, never voted on a reality TV show. Am I too cynical or are there still people out there like me who just think that it’s a mug’s game and stay well away?
I’d really be interested in hearing from those who regularly indulge, let me know what I’m missing. Not everything that glitters and all that… but it all looks so glamorous!