Sunday, 13 August 2017

In the dark, you realise this life is short...


In 2016, life taught me tough lessons and my self-awareness expanded ten fold. I became healthy, changed my diet and focused on exercise. During this time I wanted to stop gambling, but I was still in and out of recovery. The longest I abstained from placing a bet was four months. During these breaks from madness, I tried to pay off a £90,000 debt, but failed. The gambling addiction clawed its way back to a point where I was losing £100s a minute which turned in to £1,000s. This exhausted my funds.

Now in 2017, I am having difficult conversations with my bank manager about my mortgage arrears. I love my home; I have worked hard for it, but it has slipped further from my grasp as I prepare for the sale. As you assume, my credit rating is appalling; it is unlikely that I will own a home again. Worse, the sale of my home does not guarantee freedom from debt. Financial suicide is just one consequence of gambling.

During the day, I distract myself by becoming hyper busy i.e. 15+ hours a day—and I am unemployed! This distraction could be mistaken for making up for lost time and keeping the addiction at bay. But, what I am doing is suppressing uncomfortable feelings. If my vulnerable shell is pierced with negative thoughts, I will act out and the cycle repeats as feelings of self-hate, guilt, loathing, etc. are ignited.

During the past month my mind has been flooded with suicide ideation. This is not an uncommon addiction trait when coupled with mental health issues. I attempted suicide over 15 years ago. The only reason I am alive today is because the cable snapped. Committing suicide should be easier on the second time attempt, but my attitude has changed. Death is inevitable and does not scare me, and I find no challenge in death. Instead I am trying my hardest to manage a kaleidoscope of feelings, which I need to turn in to a rainbow.

To my mind, addiction is a manifestation of past traumatic events; addicts are great at avoiding root causes. What scares me is living, being in touch with my feelings, managing them, understanding my vulnerabilities, learning to accept myself, other people and life. If I can come to terms with my pain and suffering and manage my mental health, then I can become a stronger person, free from addiction.


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Friday, 4 August 2017

I Don't Like My Mind Right Now...



This post is in honour of Linkin Park's, Chester Bennington. A talented musician who took his own life because he did not have the strength to improve his mental health and society let him down.

This suffering is occurring on a global scale, much of it goes unnoticed. A person’s suicide often results in nothing more than a statistic.

You can see similar problems occurring and stacking up in the gambling industry. This sector causes many of society’s problems, but the responsibility is reverted to the addict,

“It’s you, not us.”

Profits alone illustrate the scale of problem gambling in the UK. According to the Gambling Commission between April 2015 and March 2016 online gambling operators generated a Gross Gambling Yield (GGY1) of £4.5billion!

These casinos are exploiting vulnerable members of society, people with mental health issues, low job prospects, people on the poverty line trying to make ends meet.

Unlike cigarretes, there is no government warning that Gambling kills!

Campaigners are screaming for help for better protection. However, the minority in power are concerned only about their wealth and position in society. A person able to gamble a week’s wage on one spin is acceptable to these elitists. This is the equivalent to stampeding over bodies like crazed animals for self gain. Where is the humanity? There isn’t any! It is capitalistic, cooperate greed at the expense of civilisation.

It doesn’t matter if you go bankrupt, lose your job, family or even life. The casino operator has all your money and the goverment gets their kick-back. As a gambler you are nothing more than a unique alphanumeric ID in a database where the row can be deleted upon death.

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1. Gross gambling yield (GGY) - the amount retained by operators after the payment of winnings but before the deduction of the costs of the operation.

Thursday, 3 August 2017

Move On...


The distance between now and the last time I wrote is like a canyon. More than a year has passed and a lot has changed in my life. Some things for better, some for worse. While change is inevitable the volume of change is over whelming. There has however been one constant and that is my addiction to gambling.

Like a tenacious boxer battered and bruised, I step back in to the ring to continue my fight. I want to claim my trophy against a titan which brutually and indiscrimtinaly destroys lives. I have lost count what round I am in. I don't care.

Most people would claim to stop an addiction you need to quit the behaviour that is causing you harm. If it was that easy then there would be no addicts, we, including myself would be cured. In fact, there would be nothing to cure as behaviour and actions would be balanced and therefore not considered an addiction.

The reality is addiction is a prevalent part of my life. Why? Because my mind that drives the addiction remains a part of me. My thoughts create my reality. The more the behaviour is reinforced the stronger the ties to my addiction. So, while the addiction is causing me immense suffering, it is not gambling that is the problem or any other vice I turn to mask my pain and suffering... it’s me.

However, the addiction and the ease of being able to engage in this behaviour is where the danger lies. The tactics adopted by casinos that influence and encourage repetitive behaviour are clever, sophisticated and cunning. They enslave new gamblers and reinforce patterns of behaviours for existing gamblers. Every member of society is defenseless against casinos. You included! If you are unfortuate to be in the system, the only luck you need is finding your way out! The gambling industry ensares its victims and enslaves vulnerable people. A casino holds as much responsibility for the demise of the individual than the person who gambles. The power of responsibility lies 50-50. With no casinos there can not be any gamblers and if there aren't any gamblers there can not be any casinos it is that simple. With that in mind. I can be saved from my addiction because I have choices, I can be saved from myself. How I go about that I don’t know. I don’t have the answer. Because I am fighting a system that is built to hold me, to exploit my vulnerabilities and weaknesses and destroy me.

This blog is a testament to the constant angst I have endured over the years. Because of the leniency and the lack of regulations on gambling in the UK i.e. being able to gamble more than a week’s wages on one spin is the demise of our society. Until we have strong leaders that represent society for the right reasons we are at the mercy of incompetent politicians that have a personal agenda. Therefore, these problems, suicides, poverty and bankruptcies, will have to get much worse before things will get better. Society has made it easy for us to gamble, with no limits. Right now in the current climate, nobody can save us. So get back in the ring, defend yourself, keep fighting and never ever give up!

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Tuesday, 19 January 2016

Don't You Give Up On Me


Since my last article, over four months ago I have been extremely successful, at losing money... an additional £6,000. Why? Because I am a compulsive gambler. I slip in to the darkness unable to find my way out, lost and isolated. Every bet placed with the notion that this time will be different. It of course never is. I seem to make great progress, but when I look behind me, I am at the same place I started.

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Sunday, 13 September 2015

Cycle of addiction: from success to failure and back again


Addiction Cycle

The cycle of addiction is prevalent in the life of a gambler. Don't let your failures hold you back. Drive forward into the heart of success.

Having abstained from gambling for exactly 203 days, I relapsed. My actions have further reinforced that the addicted brain is both chemically and physiologically different from a normal brain.

I found myself with access to money and committed to gamble. Once I have made a decision to gamble, very little will get in my way.

Naturally I am disappointed with my actions. I was making great progress and despite this failure, I am still driven to succeed, my mind is still clear, and I still have an overwhelming amount of determination to make a difference. I had traveled half a year from placing my last bet; that's a beautiful success no matter what.

While a success can quickly turn to failure, there is a lesson to be learned, so I do not remain despondent. Instead, I consider the silver lining. My mind is far stronger than it has been and I am coping extremely well with my gambling urges. In fact, my gambling thoughts are a lot less frequent than during previous relapses and my thoughts aren't so obsessive as they once were. When I read through my gambling diary and compare where I am now, I have grown substantially. I might be demonstrating similar behaviour in some respects, but I have evolved, and my consciousness has expanded. Regardless of success and failures I am infallible, I am and will always be human.

Have you tried to recover from gambling and feel that you have failed? Don't give up hope, you too are human and infallible, and are most likely experiencing the cycle of addiction.

Tuesday, 8 September 2015

Live Poker Losses: £50

Gambling Loser

The bigger the climb, the bigger the fall. Don't let greed get the better of you.

Session

Venue: Live
Buy in: £50
Session: 12:30 - 14:30
Duration:2 hours
Lost:-£50
Losses per hour:-£25

Overview

Sat down at a loose, aggressive table and tested my patience waiting for a strong starting hand while players showed down 92 of hearts and 73 off. At last, the perfect opportunity to demonstrate my understanding of a positive equity starting range.

After a couple of orbs, I had blinded away £6. I was tempted to get involved with many connected, suited cards. However, I didn't have enough money to speculate with these hands, and my patience was wearing thin. The best hand I held was KJ but decided to fold it to a pre flop raise. Two players got involved, one of them hit the flop hard with his K10 completing his straight and raised the long-standing question, "Is poker a game of skill or just luck?"

A new table opened up with the 'auto deck shuffler 2000!' to help speed up the action. I swiftly changed table. I won a succession of hands, but ultimately lost the lot within the hour, here's how:

  • A7s resulted in a profit of approx. £44. I was up against KQ, by the turn I was in search of the nut flush that didn't need to reveal itself as the river revealed an Ace. Villain ended up becoming tilted as his KQ was still strong by the turn.
  • A9s, a couple of opponents became involved with a large pre-flop raise from the button. The previous villain shoved, forcing one of his opponents out and leaving me with a difficult call to make. The board showed 8, 8 of spades and a 3 of diamonds. The villain either had a draw to the nuts, up and down straight or even two pairs. I called his bet off, and he revealed A9 and by the river we chopped the pot.
  • A4s one opponent, with a flushed board. Called a c-bet and got to the river with a couple of checks, won a small pot with a pair of fours and villain showed Ace high.
  • AK turned up and I had committed to getting the majority of my chips in, so decided to play deceptively with a 'blind' limp. Once again I was faced with the previous villain. By the turn, I had hit my Ace. villain fired the third bet down by the river on a flushed board. While I had the opportunity to go over the top, with just £40 behind, it wasn't enough to get him off his hand, so I just called. Turns out, villain caught a lucky 7 at the river giving them a straight. He looked shocked and stated how lucky he had been.
  • KQ button raised £15 and with KQ I raised all in leaving the villain to call off another £30. I paired my Queen on the flop. By the river, the villain had made his nut flush and slow rolled AJ.
Once again I was broke. At the height of the session, I was up to £150. Calling it a day within the hour, would have been a success but greed got the better of me.

While money is important to me and breaking out of addiction is still my ultimate goal, while caught up in the addiction cycle I must remain conscious of the lessons I learn.

For once I was reasonably patient, going several orbs without playing a hand that was unheard of before. Greed, however, did, as it always seems to, get the better of me. At what point was I willing to walk away, at what point is enough really enough?

In the future, my exit has to be sensible anywhere between a double and triple up. If I'm making the habit of walking into a casino with money, then I need to start making a habit of walking out of the casino with money. Easier said than done, right?

Lessons Learnt

  • Don't be so damn greedy!
  • It's only a game

Monday, 10 August 2015

Live Poker Losses: £250


Gambling Loser

Never reraise all in without the nuts being firmly in your hand

Session

Venue: Live
Buy in 1: £50
Buy in 2: £250
Session: 12:30-14:30
Duration: 2 Hours
Loss:-£250
Losses per hour:-£125

Overview

I rarely have my bank card on me as my partner safeguards it. Unfortunately today I had it in my wallet and I ended up losing £250. As a result, I became overdrawn and had no financial manoeuvrability for the next three weeks. The bank also charged me for using a non-authorised overdraft, which compounded my financial problems.

With £50 behind, I gambled with J10s and got it all in, only to see my hand being crushed by K9s. Having paired my 10 on the flop, the villain claimed the pot as he made a flush by the river.

£200 Rebuy. 5 minutes later I had lost the lot, here's how:

Became involved with J10 again. By the river, I had a full house with a pair of 10s and 6s. Villain put me in a spot with a big river bet, so I mistakingly reraised him all in. He called revealing a bigger full house with a pair of Aces and 6s.

The villain couldn't have liked my all in reraise. However, there was no way he was going to fold because the range I was representing was too narrow and our stacks weren't deep enough. I became too involved in this hand. In retrospect, I should have just called it off, saving me money and only reraised with the nuts i.e. quad sixes or a much bigger full house i.e. 10s over 6s.

Saturday, 18 July 2015

My Gambling Recovery Success Story

Today is one of the most important days in my life. It marks six months of abstinence from gambling. I am immensely proud.


Personal development

Personal development is key to your success. An addiction will test your strength of character, only your resilience and determination will prevent or help you overcome a relapse. Therefore, it is essential that you commit to becoming the best version of yourself.

Focus on development

For those of you yet to begin your recovery, imagine standing at the bottom of a high mountain and the path to your destination is paved with ice. During your journey, you can slip at any time leading to a great deal of damage.

You must have the right skills to tackle this terrain. You must also try and try again until your perseverance pays off. When you reach the top, remember not to become complacent, instead remain committed to your development and focus on retaining your balance.

Maintain development

If you are already on your recovery journey, you must tread very carefully. Be mindful of your progress and take just one step at a time.

If you slip, stop sliding immediately. Understand why you slipped and then, with increased vigour, recommit to success and get back to where you were before your fall and beyond!

Sustain development

Do not consider your recovery as a way to overcome your addiction; this approach will result in excessive criticism of yourself and you could find yourself obsessing about not gambling, which is just as unhealthy as being obsessed with gambling.

Instead, you must focus on developing yourself no matter how big the challenge.

Detach addiction

Your addiction occurs because of your attachment to it, without attachment there can be no addiction and you my friend are free!

If you feel compelled to act out, it is due to you; your self-esteem; how you feel about yourself. You must understand the root causes which drive your insecurities and work through them. Through understanding freedom will come.

My recovery

Six months is a pebble in the ocean, yet fundamentally it is a pebble and it is in the ocean.

Upon reflection, I can see how far I have travelled. During this period, I have experienced some of the worse days, yet equally the best days of my life. I am extremely fortunate to have made such good progress, but it has taken a lot of time and effort to achieve this and I must reiterate personal development requires commitment.

The greater the distance between today and my last bet the more elated I become. Since stopping gambling, I have started to appreciate and enjoy my life.

I feel empowered, motivated and determined to achieve whatever I put my mind to. I have lots of energy that helps support my goals. My thoughts are so much clearer and I am able to articulate myself effortlessly.

Admittedly, I have little in terms of wealth, yet I am abundantly rich in my heart, mind and soul. As a gambler, I thought I was unlucky, but now I realise just how lucky I really am.

Did you know your mind tells you lies to prevent life changes?

Friday, 10 July 2015

How can I stop gambling?

Do you have a gambling problem? Are you addicted to gambling? Do you need help to stop gambling for a better future?

Many gambling addicts search for answers to their gambling problems asking,

"How can I stop gambling?", "How do I beat a gambling addiction?", "How to quit gambling?", "How to stop gambling forever?" or "Am I addicted?"

I established this Blog Diary of a poker gambling addict to help myself recover, while also providing tools to help you break free from your addiction.

You can improve your chances of success by reading or listening to other addicts about their recovery. You can also share your recovery story to help you understand your addictive behaviour while helping others reflect on their behaviour.

Did you know that telling stories is the best way to teach, persuade, and even understand ourselves? Our brains sync up when we tell stories.

Do you have an addiction story that you would like to share? It doesn't have to be related to gambling, you can consider any addiction that prevents you from living an enriched life.

You can either comment below or send your addiction story to me via the contact form in the footer, and I will feature your story on this addiction Blog. Rest assured, your anonymity will be completely respected.

Friday, 3 July 2015

Addictive Behaviour Patterns

Hello, I'm Phil McQuire. I'm a compulsive gambler. I will always be a compulsive gambler, even in recovery. I accept I cannot gamble.

Out of control

As a compulsive gambler, you too must accept that you cannot gamble. You share the same behaviour patterns as any other person suffering from an addiction. When you feed your addiction, your personality traits become exaggerated and uncontrolled.

How many of these addictive behaviour patterns can you relate to?

BehaviourDescription
Low frustration toleranceYou cannot stand feeling uncomfortable for any length of time
AnxietyYou have have nameless fears and dreads
GrandiosityYou think the world revolves around you and are better than others; this is to hide your insecurities and low self-esteem
PerfectionismYou set impossible goals with inevitable failures
Wishful ThinkingYou arrange to do what you want to do, making it appear reasonable
IsolationYou are deeply insecure and deprive people of the real generosity needed to make close, enduring friendships
SensitivityYou take to heart and resent when people criticise you or say something about you in jest
ImpulsivenessYou want, what you want, when you want it!

Defence mechanisms

As an addict, you will also use defences to hide or avoid your feelings, to protect yourself or to try and manipulate others.

How many of these addictive behaviour patterns can you relate to?

BehaviourDescription
RationalisingYou explain and justify your addictive actions
ProjectionYou cast blame and accuse others when you act out
IntellectualisingYou analyse, generalise and theorise to justify your actions
ArguingYou use arguments to evade root problems
JokingYou laugh when you are afraid or to mask your pain
ComparingYou compare yourself to others, "I'm not as bad as…" or "I'm more in control than..."
QuestioningYou interrogate others to take the attention from yourself
AgreeingYou agree and comply to avoid being 'found out'
SilenceYou ignore others that have hurt or upset you
Minimising or denyingYou make things seem less important than they really are
ArroganceYou are smug, arrogant, or superior in your day to day activities
ThreateningYou are quick to anger; shouting, intimidating to gain control
SeductionYou get what you want in dishonest ways
Being a foolNot taking responsibility for your actions; playing down your intelligence
ActingYou present a different persona to protect your addiction
Phony tearsYou shed crocodile tears to protect your addiction

Did you know the Addictive Behaviour Patterns as mentioned above are about an alcoholic, not a gambler? Whether you are a gambler, drug addict, sex addict, all addicts share similar addictive behaviour patterns.

What are you addicted to? How many Addictive Behaviour Patterns could you identify with? Share with others in the comments below.