Finding Freedom

How quickly can a fool find his money again?

I currently have a whole bunch of debt. Hmm...I wonder how much I could get for my kidneys?
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Wednesday, May 17, 2006
As I stated in the previous post, I really believe that choosing to teach as opposed to getting a reasonably paying job was the worst decision of my life. I believe that everything else that I chose to do was a desperate attempt to try to make money so that I could make ends meet.

To my ever loving shame, one of the methods that I tried to use to make money was gambling. I thought that I was smart enough to beat the system, and in doing so, forgot the four little words that nearly every person who has gambled will tell you: the house always wins.

It started out with blackjack. In perusing the gambling books at the local Barnes and Noble, I found a book that would teach me how to count cards. I attempted this numerous times in blackjack games with several decks, and, although I would sometimes have moderate gains, I would more often than not lose all the money that I had come to the casino with. When you consider that I was playing a hundred bucks at a time and I only made about $450 a month, you can see how things got to be pretty tight.

One day, on a whim, I opted to go into the poker room. As I understood the basic tenets of poker, I figured that I would do fine. I sat down at a $3-$6 limit game, and I walked away with three hundred and fifty bucks, which I know now to be an outstanding and just about miraculous amount of money to gain, especially in a limit game for a novice player.

I have wished many times that I had lost that day, so I that I wouldn't have been encouraged to go back and play again. But after the initial victory, I figured that I could do no wrong.

So I went. And I lost. Regularly.

One night, after a particularly upsetting series of bad beats, I wandered out of the poker room furious at my plight, and I felt like doing something self destructive. So, I put the rest of the money I had with me, which was about $70, into a nickel slot machine. Through a series of small jackpots, I walked away from that machine with $500.

As I felt that this was my lucky night and figured that even if I walked out of there with $70 I wouldn't be too much worse off than when I started, I went to go play the high limit blackjack which only used two decks.

And, as it turns out, it was my lucky night. I walked out of the casino that, by that time, early morning with three grand in my pocket. I was, obviously, very excited. And so, every couple of days I went and played again, sometimes coming up and sometimes going down. My largest victory was when I started with about $1300 and left with $5700.

However, I again wish that I had not won that first night, because it kept me going back, and, as we all know, the house always wins. My luck held out for about a month, but ever since then, when I went back, I kept losing money. Let me just say that when you make, after taxes, a little less than five hundred bucks a week and you proceed to lose five hundred bucks in a little over five minutes, it makes you feel kind of sick.

As you have probably guessed, this is where I accumulated the largest amount of my credit card debt. Cash advances are a horrible thing when you think that you are smarter than the casino, especially because it hurts you in so many ways:

1) When you lose, you're out the money you had,
2) There are often cash advance fees that the credit cards will charge, and
3) The APR for cash advances is sometimes twice what it is when you just use your card for purchases.

All of those things made it more and more difficult for me to get out of debt. However, I have sworn off of gambling, and I haven't been in about a month's time. Unfortunately, the repercussions from that gambling trip have kept me at or below a zero balance in my checking account.

Gambling is part of the reason that I'm starting this blog. I want the accountability of having written about it in a public place to keep me from going back. I want to find the freedom from debt that I can only dream about at this point.
posted by shamedsteven @ 8:36 AM  
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Name: Steven shamedsteven
Home: San Diego
About Me: Well, boys and girls, I, like a whole bunch of other people, made a series of "conscious, deliberate mistakes" and have ended up with a buttload of debt. What is chronicled here are some musings about the journey out.
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