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21.1.2003
Gamblers Anonymous

Crystal Palace - Burnley 1-1


My name is Aki and I am a gambler. I have been gambling for years. I like playing cards, horses, rouletteÖ you name it. I get good kicks out of it. I tend to exaggerate my wins and forget about my losses. I think I am a good player too: I once even got blackjack. Yes, I am a member of two casinos and I have even been in Las Vegas. I canít definitely say that I will ever stop gambling. So actually I have all the signs of a gambling problem. Do I have one then?

FA hasnít stated the verdict on that yet. Tabloid papers have: they suggest that as belonging to a risk group of footballers I am automatically a gambler in a bad sense. So why is my gambling a problem then? Because I go to a casino once every second month, or even if I did go more regularly? Because I might play poker in boring bus trips? Because I like betting and I have sometimes even lost couple of hundreds?

I havenít considered joining Gamblers anonymous on these grounds. After all I spent much more money on Theatre and Cinema tickets than joining the occasional card school. I am usually up for one though. But my stakes are small; I play just for the sake of an enjoyment. I think the only reckless gambling I have ever done is when I sometimes have put ten pounds on myself scoring the first goal. That is actually more of a donation to bookmakers.

It has been lately written with quite nasty words that football players do gamble. Like most of the young English males didnít! Obviously high profile persons make high profile head lines. It is not a secret that footballers have always enjoyed a bit of a bet. There is often available the time, the money and the opportunity to do that.

It is true also that footballers are more attracted towards this kind of excitement. The very nature of this whole profession is taking chances. Like most of the professional athletes I like competition, I enjoy the feeling of playing any game. By my nature I am seeking ways to experience the battle between winning and losing. Among many other things playing money creates adrenaline in to my body, the feeling of excitement.

Another characteristic fact from my relatively small betting experience is that most of the players who like to gamble tend to be strikers. And when you think of it, it makes sense. Not just in a card school but also on the pitch they seem to take and enjoy taking biggest chances and confidently trust their hand. On the other hand I canít recall almost ever seeing a defender in a card school.

Obviously I donít want to encourage anybody but I also think there is nothing wrong with playing cards or little betting sometimes. It is in many ways better, more mind-activating and more social entertainment than for example watching telly. Me like most of the other footballers and many Englishmen, we know our way to bookmakers or casino to try our luck without having a problem. The problem comes only if your gambling is not in control.

I think I would have a gambling problem if I would be obsessed about trying to win fortunes by gambling. I would have a problem if I would be addicted to bet more all the time. It would be a serious problem if my football or economy were suffering from it. If you get hooked, gambling problem can be a very serious sickness. It is a really dangerous addiction that requires help.

But for me like most of the footballers there is absolutely nothing to worry about. Actually by definition gambling is constantly betting money that are close or over your limits. So in most of the cases in football world we are only talking about gaming.

It sounds really bad that someone has lost a fortune in gambling. And it is bad. I would be fuming if I even lost two hundreds on a casino trip. There goes my limit. After that I would leave home by bus. We all have different limits though. For someone even big amounts wouldnít danger his economy because he can afford it. But if my Mum went to a casino and lost a grand that would be a problem for a retired person. I doubt it that it would make every single papers back page though.

There are for sure footballers that have gambling problem. However gambling problems are as usual in any other professions as well. In many cases the problems are bigger elsewhere since people canít afford it or they are passionately trying to win a better life to themselves by gambling.

So overall even if an average footballer played bit more money than average John Smith from Croydon I donít still feel there is such a gambling problem for footballers that it has been recently claimed. It is definitely not a common problem although some sole incidents may have occurred.

A problem is that as a role model it doesnít look good that a footballer can loose in one night almost as much as average yearly income of an English worker. That will not only make footballers look bad and reckless but also isolates them from the society. Another problem is that some players find a life outside the pitch so boring that they are trying to find heavier excitement to get kicks.

Like right now I am bored and I am going to gamble again: I am ordering Indian food.

I thought I wasn't gambling when I put some pounds on us against Burnley because I was sure that with our current form it would have been a safe investment. We were better side and close to capitalise my bet but in the end I was left skinned with a draw and an average performance.



Recommended things that will keep you away from gambling:

1. Being a defender
- These people donít just guard the goal but their money as well -

2. Ordering exotic take away food
- That is quite a lot of gambling already plus most likely your stomach wont let you go to a casino afterwards anyway -


Not recommended things that will lead you to gambling:

1. Reading any book about scientific approach to chemistry
- After that you will be so bored that you need some excitement -

2. Watching Maverick -film
- It makes you want to try to pull that ace from your sleeve -



" Winner takes it all"

- ABBAki


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