By July 22, 2012 0 Comments

No More Bets, Thank you…

Once upon a time, I was a gambler; a gambler in the literal sense as in a person who went to the casino every day to gamble to win.

I was probably 22 at the time, at college and carefree.  Money came from my parents and I lived in a beautiful apartment with my gorgeous girlfriend Claudine – now my wife.

One day at college, one of my friends asked me if I wanted to join them that evening. I led a mostly quiet life and away from social activities and I was quite intrigued when I heard that they were going to the casino.   I was told that I needed to wear a suit and to meet them at the casino in the evening.  It was very exciting and I went home and rummaged through my wardrobe and prepared for my big evening.  Claudine was pleased that I was going out with friends but when she found out that the destination was a casino she immediately expressed her concern but I re-assured her that it was for fun.

In the evening I took a cab down Oxford Street towards Tottenham Court Road, to the Sportsman Casino.  I stopped on the way and withdrew £50 from the cash machine and when I arrived I was met by my two friends outside.  They found it amusing that I had never been to a casino and I was so excited at the prospect, I was bedazzled in fact.

As we entered we were met by the casino security who checked our credentials and then let us pass.  You needed to be a member and one of the friends was a member and I was signed in as a guest.

The doors opened to a grand hall, far larger than I had anticipated.  The room was dark but with lights above the various tables that were arranged at strategic points in the room.  Players gathered around the tables with anticipation, some smiling others talking in hushed voices.  The croupiers or dealers were all smartly dressed and in between hustle and bustle, attractive waitresses shuttled back and forth with trays full of drinks.  I could hear ambient sounds of jackpot machines, balls spinning across the roulette wheel, bouncing and landing on a number.  In another part of the room were players enjoying various card games.

The atmosphere was incredible, as if a set from a movie and I itched to get into the action.  I found myself reaching into my wallet and feeling the crispy notes as I slowly followed my friends to a roulette table.  I had no idea what the game was or how it was played but I was fascinated and willing to learn.   I observed my friends and watched the other players.  Eventually I learnt the basics and with great effort I reached for my £50 and gave it to the dealer and he presented me with chips to play.  I thought from observing the game that I had devised a winning plan.  Wait for the ball to land on red or black a couple of times and then bet on the opposite.  With some courage, I played my first hand and I won!

I hesitated and stopped, feeling guilty that I was gambling.  I felt if my father knew that I was at a casino gambling he would be terribly upset so I decided to stop.

I ordered a drink and sat to watch the other players.  I discovered that you could ask for toasted sandwiches so I enjoyed a turkey sandwich.  My friends decided to wander off to other tables, seemingly unlucky on this particular table.  I remember, as I ate my sandwich, I got strange feelings about the numbers, as if I was almost able to ‘predict’ the winning numbers.  I know it sounds absurd in hindsight but that is how it felt at the time.  Soon, I found myself playing again and I took more daring bets and I continued to win.  I became the focus of attention and people watched me lay chips on winning numbers and the dealer deliver stacks of chips.  I started with £50 and I was well over £500!

My friends came back and were shocked at my winnings, naturally they asked for ‘loans’ (never loan gamblers money, you are better off burning your cash in a fire)

Later in the evening, a Kuwaiti lady with a vicious looking husband tried to chat me up while her husband was away on another table!  She told me that she recognized me from the hotel and I asked her which hotel, she said the Hilton Hotel, room xxx , you are a few doors down from my room, I recognize you.  Obviously she was giving me her room number but I was too naïve to understand and I was blinded by my winnings and my ego was flying sky high – I had become the hero of the evening!

I went home and Claudine was not pleased, I was late and she was concerned about my visit to the casino.  I came up with more excuses and showed her the money I had won.  We counted well over £1300 and at that time, that amount was a considerable sum.  She was surprised just as I was and she made me promise not to go back but of course, I lied…

The next day, I was the talk of the college as the two friends went about describing the night at the casino.  I felt important and special, suddenly the others took notice of me and I felt that I belonged with the ‘cool’ group.

A few days passed and then I was asked if I wanted to go to the casino again.  I knew I had promised Claudine not to go but I said yes.  It was a struggle and a dilemma but I could hardly resist.  I promised myself that I would go back and try to win more money to buy a professional keyboard – I loved playing music back then and I had a simple keyboard I used to enjoy and Claudine loved it when I played.  We sang together and spent many enjoyable nights with the music from that tiny simple keyboard.

The casino was busy as usual and I quickly made my way to the same table.  I learnt more about Roulette and was determined for another win and win I did!  Once again my hands found the right numbers and I won, but this time I won well over £3000!   The atmosphere was unbelievable and a few times the crowd around me clapped when my numbers came through.  Many gamblers started following my trend and started betting on my numbers and they too won.  Everyone was nice and friendly and the waitresses fussed over me with drinks, fresh sandwiches and chocolates.

Eventually I stopped and on my way out I tipped the security staff and they stopped a cab for me.   Before I left I asked my friend to refer me to the club as a member and that is when disaster struck.

I went home and Claudine knew that I had gone to the casino.  She was very upset because I had broken my promise and because my excursion to the world of gambling had become a habit.  I kept repeating to her that I won and she did not care, I almost resented her because she was lacking the ‘wow’ factor.  To impress her, I reached into my pocket and threw the cash into the air.  She was flabbergasted as the £50 notes swirled in the air and gently landed on the floor and the sofa.  £3700 in total and that was an enormous sum of money at the time, to say the least for a college student.  I bought the keyboard of my dreams and I also treated Claudine to our favourite Italian – La Sirena and other gifts.  Life was great and I was king!

I forgot about the casino for a while and was busy with my new keyboard and computer, we spent more time together and we enjoyed the rewards.  Claudine made me promise once again not to go back and I told her that I won’t but this was short-lived.

One day a letter came through the post and when I opened it, it contained a plastic card with my name on it with ‘Sportsman Casino’  It was my membership card.  Immediately, my mind raced:  should I destroy the card or should I go there for a visit.  I decided that another visit would not hurt and I promised myself not to play but to enjoy watching the games.  I took my friend along the way and we entered the casino as I flashed my new card.

“Good evening Mr. Dedeyan, this way please sir”

We went in and made ourselves comfortable.  I watched the other players and games in progress.  It was interesting to watch but soon I found that I was bored and I wanted to be part of the excitement.  I produced a small amount of cash and played, this time I lost.

Instinctively, I reached for more cash and I lost the second batch.  I froze.   I just lost well over £200 in no more than 5 minutes!  Why in God’s name had I taken with me that cash into the casino into the first place?  Defeat was out of the question and I strongly believed that I would win my money back – forgetting the fact that it was not my money to begin with.  My father had given me a credit card for emergencies and I very rarely used it – tonight I declared an emergency and withdrew more money from the cashier.  I went back to the table and I had barely made myself comfortable when I lost once again.  This time the impact was deep and I left the casino, angry and frustrated.

Over the next few days I thought about my loss and my mood changed considerably.  Claudine was deeply concerned and I hid the fact that I had gone back to the casino and lost money from her.  Slowly the bitterness faded and the mischief took over once again.  For some strange reason I felt convinced that I would recoup my losses so I went back.  I doubt very much if other gamblers did not feel the same drive to go back to the casino, no one goes back unless they truly believe that they will win.

I started winning but before long, I saw my winnings slip away and in a momentary lapse of reason and sheer madness I found myself withdrawing from my credit card over and over.  In a few hours I lost all my winnings and more.  I was now in fact indebted to my credit card by as much as £800 or more!  Gone was my big win and everything that I had made on my previous visits.  The tables were now reversed and now I stood indebted to my credit card.

I went home in a zombie state; I was not sure what reality I was in anymore.  I had to pretend to Claudine that all was ok but in fact it was far from it.  I needed money to pay my credit card bill and all plans we had with the large winnings were now out of the window…  no more little holiday or presents.  In fact, I decided to sell my keyboard to pay off the credit card.   The keyboard that we both loved and were so fond of.

I sold the keyboard at half price and it was brand new.  When the buyer came to pick it up, I was still in a daze.  I could not believe that this was happening.  I felt so terrible, I was tearful after he left…

I fabricated a story to Claudine about the keyboard but she was no fool, she knew something was very wrong so eventually I confessed and she was very disappointed.  It must have been so hard on her because on the one hand she loved me dearly and yet on the other she was very angry that I had lied and betrayed her trust.

I continued with my studies at college and the days drifted along with the bitter memories of my loss.  I sold my keyboard, pirate copies of computer software, offered typing services and sold other items to collect the cash I needed to pay off the credit card bill and eventually I did.  Despite the odds, I found myself reflecting on what had gone wrong, trying to analyze the situation to make sense of my loss.  I could not accept defeat; I wanted to be the winner, the centre of attention.  I believed that I could beat the system and the more I thought about it the ‘clearer’ my thoughts had become.  Eventually I was convinced that the only reason why I failed was because I went for large sporadic bets.  I went to basics and ‘devised’ a ‘logical’ system.  I set about writing it all down, testing it using a mock roulette wheel at home.   I became obsessed with finding a way to beat the casino and eventually I thought I had it all figured out.  My plan would work if I had a chance to go back, I could prove it but Claudine was my obstacle, so being the ‘intelligent’ person that I am, I decided to go secretly in the daytime to prove my theory.

On my first visit, I won.  Not a substantial amount but it was a win, at least I did manage to walk away when I had reached the amount I promised myself to pocket and leave.  I celebrated, I was the champion who would conquer the casino and win back all my losses and win more than ever before!

I went again the next day and again I won, happy days!

Claudine tried to figure out my ‘happy’ mood but I cleverly disguised it all with excuses and never mentioned the casino to her.

I grew confident and started to go there every day, when I’d make a win, I would walk away.  It was such a pleasure to be in the cool dark casino rather than the boring college… I found that at college I could ask for a ‘withdraw pass’ so in essence the college keeps the money and I could study the next term.  I had all the time in the world and so I thought, I could afford to enjoy life.  I made new friends in the casino and many knew me by my first name.  Even some of the dealers smiled to me when they saw me, it felt good to be there… lovely to be ushered in by the tough big security men at the door who referred to me as Mr. Dedeyan.

The more I visited the casino, the greedier I became and soon I forgot all about the limits that I promised myself and when to actually walk away.  I believed that I had found a magic formula that will always make me win.  Eventually, when my stakes had become sizeable, the tables reversed and I started losing again.  I fought back aggressively but no matter what I tried I was on a downward spiral and as usual, I was raking up new debts with my credit card.

Day after day, I went to the casino and lost more and more.  I was not thinking of the money, it was beyond the money, it had become personal – I cannot be wrong!  I cannot lose!

At the end of the month when my credit card bill arrived by post I discovered that I had in fact lost far more money than I ever imagined and I was left with very little personal possessions to sell.   I was depressed once again and lost my enthusiasm and drive for life.  Even though I had lost it all to the casino, I still wandered back in like a ghost, a shell of a man, thinking and believing that there may still be some hope…

I was in such a bad way, I could no longer afford to buy food for the house and other necessities.  I started going to the casino to eat the free sandwiches.  I lived on stale chicken or cheese sandwiches for a very long time.  Every month I waited for my pocket money and the moment it was in my account, I’d go back to the casino and lose more…  The casino no longer looked glamorous but dull and miserable.  Where had that glamorous energy gone, I wondered.  It looked tired, old and unappetizing and yet I found that I could not pull myself away.  On one of my final visits I came across an English lady who I had become acquainted to in the casino.  She was always well dressed, well spoken and very smart but when I saw her on that day she looked different and she ‘begged’ me to loan her some money.  She tried to tempt me and suggested that we go and sit together in a private area of the casino… I was repulsed.

Ultimate sins cost ultimate prices and it was the beginning of my lies to my father.  In order to pay off my debts, I pretended that I was at college when I was not.  I used my college money to pay off my loans and to eat.  I was in a bad way and Claudine tried everything she could to help me, not knowing the extent of the damage and that I was secretly frequenting the casino.  My circumstances had changed for the worse.

Eventually one day, she found out… I cannot remember how exactly but she did but it was inevitable.  She was so hurt…  I remember her sobbing loudly and then falling to her knees in front of me as she begged me to stop gambling at the casino.  I could hardly contain myself and I cried my eyes out, feeling so ashamed of the path that I had chosen and the many lies that I had told to everyone and how I had come to believe the lies myself.

I swore to Claudine and promised that I would never gamble in my life and since that day, I never did.  I have been to a casino on social occasions with friends for fun but never to gamble. I was invited with Claudine for Valentine’s to a casino once and I did not even play, despite her giving me the go-ahead for a bit of fun.  I think the last time I went to a casino was in Monaco with Claudine and our dear friend Tara.  Claudine told me to go ahead and enjoy but I could hardly bring myself to place a chip on the table.  In a way, I felt proud and distant from that which was once my poison.

It took me a long time to rebuild my life and to snap out of my addiction to gambling, I can only consider myself the luckiest man on earth, not for stopping gambling but to have a dear friend in my life who loved me and cared for me to bring me to my senses.

I learned that the best and only way to make money is legitimately and honestly through hard work and I now live by these principles.  I know that my experiences or mistakes may have been obvious to some and that I should not have fallen for them but at the time, I could not see right from wrong.   I was blinded…

Unlike what we are taught in the movies, when the devil comes for us, he never really looks like a monster.  Evil masks itself with beauty and makes you feel so special and on top of the whole world.  He will appeal to your reason and if you are as vane as I was, you will find the slightest distraction fulfilling and the smallest of compliments pure honey to your ego.

The maximum that I ever ‘gamble’ nowadays is a little occasional flutter on the horses, I love watching horse racing on television on a Saturday afternoon and I enjoy a little fun to go with it.  It is a vice that I can live with because I know my limits very well but the devil is still there with his chips, casinos and tables, with his glamour and self-indulgence… the sexy ladies and the lifestyle sought by so many and achieved by none.

No more bets, thank you…

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