First contact with gambling (Part I)

My family didn’t have a lot of money. And so, when I went to high school, I had to go to a city that was 30 kilometres away from my village. My mom rented a room from somebody and I had a package with food to last me for the week and around 12 dollars per week to pay for transportation which was like 4 dollars and the rest of 8 dollars was like pocket money to last me for the week. To get the picture, what that money meant, for example, a meal at McDonald’s was around 5 dollars at that time in my country.

So I tried to find different ways to make some pocket money that would allow me to go out with my friends, maybe buy some clothes since the clothes that I had were bought by my mom before the beginning of the school year and had to last me pretty much the whole year.

I asked around the few people that I knew what could I do for some extra money. And there were a couple of people from some small companies that gave me like 2.5 dollars for carrying some heavy stuff for 2-3 hours. But all in all that was maybe 4-5 gigs in the whole year. Obviously, that money didn’t go a long way. So I’ve asked my colleagues what are they doing to make some money. It turned out that most of them didn’t have to do anything because like 80% of the kids from my high school were from what you would call “good families”. Not necessarily rich families, but most of them had like 7-8 dollars as pocket money per day.

But I noticed that some older kids were talking all the time about soccer matches and how if some team scored one more goal, they would have won 200 dollars and basically amounts that at the time were more than my mom was making in the whole month at her job. So I became interested. And soon I found out that people can select a few matches, predict who wins and if they got it right, they could win a lot of money. I cannot tell you how exciting that looked to me.

So I’ve started to place some bets and the most exciting part was that by adding more and more matches the potential win grew amazingly. Like if I got 6-7 matches right I could have won 75-100 dollars. It may not seem a lot to you now, but for a 14-15 years old kid that was the money that he got in more than 2 months. And it would have been the whole amount in cash. Imagine the possibilities…

Pointless to say that apart from some small winnings like a couple of dollars and some decent winnings like 10-15 dollars, I never won big. And even for that 10-15 dollars winnings, I must of previously bet 4-5 times that, at least. The point was: THE HOUSE ALWAYS WINS.

But there was something that happened when I was doing those match bets that stuck with me and I am sure, made a lot of damages later on. Champions League in Europe just started and also Europa League and so, there were a lot of matches from Tuesday to Thursday. The maximum number of matches that I could bet on at that Agency was 15 on a single ticket. So I’ve selected 15 matches with a bet of little over a dollar altogether. Potential win: 2500 dollars. That was like… At that time you could have bought 2 used cars with that money. Even now in most countries, you can buy one used car with that money and in some still even 2 used cars. Imagine what that would have meant for a teenager with no money whatsoever.

The matches were spread over 3 days, 14 of them being Tuesday and Wednesday and one on Thursday. It was Wednesday night, all the matches finished and I was checking the results: Arsenal won, Real Madrid won, that’s 3, 4…8, 9… No way… Carried on, 12,13, OH MY GOD, 14 matches finished as I predicted. I cannot explain the adrenaline rush that I felt. One more game needs to finish how I predicted and I am winning 2500 dollars.

I couldn’t sleep that night, I didn’t care about school that day, I wanted for the match to start. It finally starts and in minute 35 of the game, it is 1-0 for the team that I bet on. I couldn’t breathe I was too pumped up. In minute 73 the other team scores. In my mind, I wasn’t worried. Why? Because even though I didn’t know what it was then, the gambler denial starts to spread in his mind. There is no way, no chance whatsoever that I get 14 matches right, the team that I predicted to win the 15th match has the lead for over 70 minutes and I lose all that money in the last 15 minutes. The result was 1-1 and I lost that money.

I felt sick like literally sick. I didn’t go to school the next day and what I was thinking was that with just a little bit more luck, I could have won a huge amount of money for me.

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