The Short Straw

Philip Mc Cormack looks at the stakes of gambling, that seem to be even higher when you’re a student.

Student gambling is an ever growing problem in each college throughout Ireland. The rush and possibility that students see through gambling is endless. The little money we may have to get through a week can be easily parted with for a bet that is viewed as “a sure thing”. We allow ourselves to become overwhelmed with greed and somewhat unrealistic thoughts of riches attained through small bets and high odds. The reality of the situation is that we are in college to receive a degree that may lead us through a life of comfort and stability, but we forget this through the addictiveness of the college lifestyle. I am not writing this as a critic of this lifestyle as I personally can relate to feeling of endless possibilities through gambling, after all, when you win a bet, it’s free money, isn’t it?

Unfortunately it’s not. How much have you spent in order to finally feel victorious over the bookies? Would you have more if you never gambled in the first place? Are you only continuing to gamble because you constantly feel you are down money from previous bets? These are some of the questions I feel that we, as students, should be asking ourselves. Many students bet because they feel that they do not have enough money to both survive and enjoy their week. With this, many students risk money intended for survival on bets which they believe will definitely come though. A friend of mine, who wishes to remain anonymous, once began his college week by gambling two weeks of his month’s rent. He simply put half of his rent on Barcelona as they were huge favourites. He assumed that once this bet comes through he can pay his rent and hold on to the extra money and have a good week. Unfortunately on this occasion, Barcelona drew and the bet was lost. “I saw an easy way to double my money. I didn’t pay rent for the rest of the year” he said in relation to the bet. Instead of facing up to both his parents and landlord about the unfortunate gamble he had taken, he instead told his landlord that he was moving out. Once everything was in order and the Landlord believed him to be completely moved out, he continued to live there anyway, without the landlord’s consent.

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I am not writing this as a critic of this lifestyle as I personally can relate to feeling of endless possibilities through gambling, after all, when you win a bet, it’s free money, isn’t it?

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Although the bookies is most popular source of gambling for students, most of us experience the heartbreak of going broke in casinos. Roulette, Blackjack, and Poker are quickly becoming the catalyst to our get rich quick schemes. There are millions of euros awarded to poker players every year for their efforts and placing in large tournaments. Such an outrageous amount of money gained through the simple means of playing a game of course helps entice each of us into the world of poker. Thousands of new players are beginning to surface each year with the intention of achieving riches beyond their wildest dreams. I personally have become engulfed by the world of poker. The rush, the possibilities, the sheer enjoyment gained through taking down a pot. I started as most people do, in a house with a few friends playing for a small buy in such as €5. Since then I have found myself in bigger, more serious and honestly somewhat scary games. My most recent game was a cash game and not a tournament where I earned over €800 in around six hours and five days before hand in an online tournament I earned $1000 dollar in nine hours. Most people view poker as a means of quickly gaining money through a series of random events placing the best cards in their hand. Through this theory people are led to believe that if they are patient, they will eventually get a hand good enough to win big. Unfortunately this is where people lose money. Years of practice and study must go into poker before anyone can expect to receive high earnings; it’s much more than a game of luck, although at the end of the day, I would rather be lucky than skilled.

While pokers attractiveness may continue to increase through such victories and easily attained money, any player must be careful of falling into the trap of addictiveness and isolation. Many players become consumed by the online world of poker and begin to isolate themselves from the outside world along with a constant unhealthy diet. The opinion of friends on this lifestyle becomes obsolete and the thoughts of triumph over the poker world become instrumental to your success within your own mind. Every player must be extremely observant and careful of their own behaviour in order to avoid such circumstances. The road to addiction can entice us into whatever it wishes, every day will become a new challenge with only the goal of earning money through gambling. This can lead to debt, despair and depression.

When it comes to gambling, do remember the key word is “gamble”. No matter what bet you place it is in fact a gamble and along with the possibility of losing always outweighs the possibility of winning. When it comes to gambling, money won never feels as good as money lost feels bad. This is something that each reader should remember. There is nothing wrong with a small bet every now and again, just don’t bet your survival on a possible victory. There is nothing wrong with quitting while you are ahead or even behind. Knowing when to quit is as important as the bet itself. If you are behind, don’t let it get you down and make you feel like a loser. Money comes and goes and should you be smart enough to hold on to whatever money you have after losing a bet then I commend you because with many people, it is not an easy task.