From Bettor To Better: How My Gambling Problem Changed My Life

by Dan Scotti
Sony Pictures

Different strokes for different folks, they say.

Everyone’s got a hobby. For some, it’s stamp collecting. For others, I don’t know, it might be cooking or yoga.

For me, however, it’s always been making wagers -- yes, just wagers. I never really discriminated.

I remember one of the first real bets I ever made -- it was back in middle school. I sat next to this kid, Austin was his name, and he -- every single day -- would bring a sandwich bag of Goldfish crackers to class to snack on.

One fateful day, Austin proposed a bet. He said if I threw the sandwich bag of Goldfish at the chalkboard, he would give me one dollar.

Mind you, I was close with my teacher at the time -- as we shared a common interest in sports -- so I thought he would take the joke in stride, and I’d be able to buy a sack of cookies at lunch, with my new dollar.

So we shook hands, and I rifled that sandwich bag of Goldfish full speed ahead. Unfortunately, however, I yanked the throw, causing the bag to wiz by my teacher’s ear as he had his back turned.

I won the dollar, but it sparked a startling, startling scene in the classroom thereafter.

Needless to say, I learned a lot from that bet. And, over the past few years, I’ve learned a lot from my gambling habits -- ones that I use in my everyday life.

Granted, betting is a poor habit, but if you learn to channel your tendencies, they can definitely result in some successful lessons.

Sleep is for the weak.

Betting can help you learn a lot about your own true limits -- especially those pertaining to the sleep cycle.

When there’s money to be made and dreams to be followed, there are nights when sleep is simply not a priority.

This is all part of clock management. You don’t truly realize how many hours there are in a day until you’re betting on the Australian Cricket league at 4 AM, deciding sleep is less important than watching a sport you don’t understand the rules to.

Things aren’t always as good as they appear.

When things appear to be too good to be true, they usually are. This same concept applies to betting -- except when it comes to matters of point spreads, we call it a “trap game.” Like when Oklahoma City was only a three-point favorite over the Knicks.

But you can find “trap games” throughout life, just in different shapes and forms.

Sure, some new opportunity at work may sound great, at first. But it might not be long until you find yourself transplanted to some new “satellite” office over in Oklahoma City.

It’s never too late to dig yourself out of a hole.

Look, times get hard, I get it. But the true test of toughness is being able to bounce back after defeat.

In gambling, you may have the worst Sunday of all time -- going winless on the entire day’s slate of football -- but as Stuckey told me, you have to find a way to shake that sh*t off and hit on the Sunday Night Football.

And after that, Monday Night Football. See, it’s easy to give up after facing some adversity -- but there’s nothing more rewarding than turning your gambling luck around late in the week and realizing you won’t have to ration your lunch money the following week.

There are ups and downs.

Like I said, sometimes you’ll have to whether the lows to experience the highs. In life -- and betting -- it’s not so much about instant gratification as it is about rolling with the punches.

Success is a process, and it’s not one that comes without adversity.

Betting teaches one to keep his or her mind straight and not get caught up on the short-term losses -- especially if they lead to bigger wins.

And then lead to more losses. But then lead to some wins.

Never get too cocky.

Betting will quickly teach you that haughtiness will only lead to your demise.

You may think you’re some type of Wimbledon guru, but one rough day at the office will humble you quick. You have to calculate your moves -- you can’t be overly confident.

The early bird gets the worm.

In betting, the early bird might get the most favorable money line -- and, like in the working world, it will likely be the early bird in the office who gets the raise.

Anyone experienced in betting tennis or soccer has been classically trained to wake up and check spreads before 6 am, when it’s noon in Europe.

Although these habits may appear to be a bit eccentric, success is, oftentimes, eccentric. You can’t expect to surpass your competition if you’re hitting the snooze button after noontime on the weekends.

If you’re a bettor of any real frequency, that’s probably never the case.