There are all kinds of addictions in America. Some of them are good and some are bad.
People are addicted to chocolate, french fries, Monday Night football, and golf. They are addicted to watching baseball, to taking cruises, and many are addicted to peanut butter -- especially stealing it out of the jar when nobody is looking.
And yes, people are addicted to gambling.
You'll find those same faces gathered around the sports book to wager on baseball games, football games and basketball games. And they are there night after night whether they win, lose or break even.
My late friend Bud Adair lived in Circle City, AZ. and operated a motel and a restaurant. Bud was a gambler who loved action. But he played skill games, not games of pure chance. He explained why he had adopted this philosophy.
'I don't want to bet anything that I can't control,' Adair declared.
A gambler can't control a horse race or a professional sports game. But he does have some control when he plays blackjack, dice and poker. Especially poker.
I have read some heart-breaking books written by people who were ruined financially by their gambling addiction. One was called 'The Loser.'
I don't remember the author's name, but I read the book more than 40 years ago. The author was a horseplayer. He had a good-paying job as a public relations specialist. But his addiction to horse racing was so strong that he began writing worthless checks to pay for his betting at horse tracks around the country.
He was powerless to stop. He wrote hundreds of checks on worthless accounts. Finally, after he hit bottom financially, he joined Gambler's Anonymous and beat his addiction. He paid back the people who had accepted his bad checks and he didn't go to prison.
This writer could not beat the horses. His cure for his addiction was simple but he didn't choose to use it; find another game to play. Make it a skill game like poker or blackjack, not a game like the horses. You cannot control a horse, a jockey or a trainer. But you can control a poker game by choosing to put your money only in certain hands. Another way to control poker is through raising. It's a powerful weapon if used carefully.
I read another book by a person who was addicted to sports betting. Actor James Caan made a movie called 'The Gambler.' It was written by a university professor who was addicted to gambling. He had wanted Robert De Niro to star as the gambler, but the producers of the film chose James Caan who, at the time, was battling his own addiction to cocaine.
The teacher who wrote the book was reportedly inspired by a book on gambling written by Russian novelist Fyodor Dostoyevsky, who wrote many books examining the human condition. Dostoyevsky was a philosopher as well as a writer and journalist and many of his books are considered classics.
Here is a cure that works if you are a gambling addict who is a constant loser. Examine the types of gambling that you do. If they are pure games of chance -- slots, horses, roulette or sports betting -- change your game to one of skill.
While it will take you some time to learn the skills you need to prevail, the education is worthwhile and will pay off in the end. You can learn to play blackjack or poker. You can also improve your skill at betting on the horses, although it may not be sufficient to overcome the track odds.
Horse racing has been called the 'Game of Kings' because early gamblers thought only kings could afford to lose their money on the horses. If you crave the taste of chocolate and are addicted to it, you at least get something for the money you spend on chocolate. But when you invest your money in a game of pure luck, no method of betting will change your luck for better. In the long run, you will continue to lose and your addiction will deepen.
Send me your feedback on these thoughts. Good luck and let the games begin.
Note: For problem gambling please see this page: Gambling Help