This is Episode 1 of the Gambling Still Sucks podcast. In this episode, I’ll go over the who, what, where, when, and why of the podcast, so you’ll know exactly what to expect from future episodes.
Hey there, and welcome to the Gambling Still Sucks podcast. My name is Jamie, I am a compulsive gambler, and I’m also the host of this show. The last day I gambled was July 15th of 2010. Now obviously, with this being the first episode, I wanted to just kind of lay out the groundwork, give you an idea who I am, and what this podcast is all about, and just kind of lay it out there. Because so many times, I listen to podcasts, and we may pick them up in the middle, or we’re just not really sure who the person is, who they are talking, what’s their background, what’s their story, what’s their knowledge on the topic. And so, I wanted to take this first episode to kind of outline that, so you have a good idea of who I am, sort of what I look like because this is audio, you can’t see me. And so, I think it helps, there’s that connection when we actually can sort of paint a picture in our minds of who the person is.
Now, as I mentioned, my name is Jamie. I’m 36. Today is actually my birthday, so happy birthday to me! This is actually a birthday present I’m giving myself is getting this podcast off the ground and running. And so, I’m very excited to share this; I’m looking forward to this 36th year of my life. Birthdays haven’t always been the most exciting thing in my life. In fact, I sort of didn’t really like them. Birthdays and holidays for a long time, I didn’t enjoy at all, and I’ll probably touch on that in future episodes. But I think we all—I mean, it’s just kind of that end of the year or whatever—you kind of look back and say, well, what did I do this year? And when I was gambling, it wasn’t very much. And so that was very much a disappointing time. But now birthdays are fun. I’m looking forward to it. Got some good presents already; we’re gonna go out to dinner tonight, so that’s very exciting.
I live in Akron, Ohio, so home of LeBron James for all you basketball fans out there. Our Cavs are really terrible right now; this is recorded in ’18, and they’re finally winning some games. But a big-time sports fan, definitely a huge sports fan, Cleveland sports fan. And hey, maybe that’s part of my struggle because we know, if anybody knows anything about Cleveland sports, we’re always known as kind of the underdogs and the people that never win. And so, I kind of lived that life in my gambling life.
Now, growing up, I played a lot of sports. Like I said, very into sports. I played a lot of golf; I was always on the golf course. Heck, that was probably the first place I started gambling, and it was small stakes. I mean, those quarters and nothing major, but it was just every time we played, we were playing for something—kind of that whole “keep it interesting” thing, right? Also, played basketball, ended up playing basketball and golf in high school, played golf in college actually for a couple years before I ended up quitting a little bit early, but played for a few years. And so, I was pretty good at golf at one point, and now I’m a hack, but I still like to play. And I like to play a lot of golf, and looking forward to as my son gets older, he’s really into sports, and so we’ll play a lot of sports.
For work, I have a small business. I do creative work, and that’s—I’m always trying, learning new things. I’ve self-taught myself web design and development, just graphic design as well. So you’ll see on the website, it probably will always be changing because I’m always tinkering. This podcasting is something new. I’ve listened to podcasts for so many years and always thought, “Wow, man, I really want to get a podcast.” In fact, the mic I’m talking to you on, it’s probably about three years old now; at this point, it might even be almost four years old. I’ve had this mic for a long time, and this is the very first podcast I’ve put out. And so, that’s part of my procrastination that I’m working on very, very hard. It’s part of me; I’m trying to figure it out and get over it.
But yeah, I do creative work. I mentioned I have a son; I also have a daughter. They’re five and three, and they’re wonderful. They’re crazy; they are always running around and keeping us on our toes. My wonderful wife, who you’ll learn is very much a part of my gambling story. We’ve been married for seven years, and she was the one that first got me to go to GA. And so, I’m very, very appreciative. And like I say, she is wonderful. She’s the one that has kind of gotten me on the right track, and so I’m very, very lucky. I have an awesome family and support system around me, and for years, I didn’t use them. But now, obviously, I’m using them and realizing how valuable they are. So, I’m very appreciative of that.
Let’s see, what else? In school, I was always a really good student. I was a 4.0 student, had perfect grades, graduated at the top of my class. I got a scholarship to go to college for academics and graduated with honors, even though, towards the end, my attendance to class was not very good. And that definitely was at the same time that I had become drawn into playing poker, and there was no coincidence that my grades went straight down along with my bank account at the time. And so, we’ll talk about that when we talk about some of my story.
But I guess, overall, I’m just trying to paint the picture of who I am because I think I probably look a lot like all the other guys that you know in your life. And whether you’re listening to this as a compulsive gambler, I probably sound a lot like you in a lot of ways. We probably have a lot of things in common. Or just—I mean, if you’re listening to this as a therapist or somebody that’s trying to help somebody, or have a friend or family member they’re struggling, and you’re like, “Man, they’re such a smart person, why are they doing these dumb things?” I’m just trying to paint that picture to realize that gambling is the invisible illness. You can’t really see it, unlike alcoholism or drug problems. It’s one of these things that, for years, I hid from everyone, and on the front, on the outside, it just looked like I was a normal guy.
And so, hopefully, I’ve painted that picture for you, so you can kind of get a better understanding of who I am, what I look like, and what my day-to-day life is like. So, you can kind of see that this is something that affects everyone. And that’s one thing I’ve learned from going to GA is that there’s no real one demographic that this hits.
I think there are certain demographics that probably struggle with gambling more than others, but I have met people from all walks of life, and people that you would never expect to have a gambling problem have cleared out their 401ks and have no money. And so, that’s one thing I really want to kind of get out into the world, is to understand that with gambling, there isn’t a certain person that falls into a gambling problem; it can affect anyone in any demographic.
Now, a section about who I am would obviously not be complete, given the topic, without giving you my background with gambling. And so, we’ll go into this in more detail, but I was a poker player. I started off, actually way back when I said I played golf and gambled a little bit in that, but then there was a time I absolutely hated gambling. One of my best friends had a gambling problem, and when they had trouble with their finances, who did they call to help? Me. And I helped, and I helped, and I helped, and I tried to put together plans. And this person, they were into slot machines, and I was just like, “Man, just stop going, and all the problems will go away. You don’t have a money problem; you just need to stop going to the casino.” And from the outside, that seemed like such a logical answer. So, there was a time that I absolutely hated gambling. I’m like, “No, that will never be me; I won’t fall into that.”
And so, I went—it’s kind of interesting to look back—that I went into this with my eyes open to the fact that there could be a potential problem, and I was very cautious at first. So, when I first got exposed to poker, I was very cautious. But then, over the years, that caution went away, and the addiction set in, and my problems became much, much worse. I went from playing just small games with friends to, at the end, I was playing eight tables at a time with 200 to 400 dollars on each table online. And I was playing in casinos and losing thousands of dollars in a day, and it just really, really added up. Obviously, over the years, I never lost huge amounts at any one time—I mean, a thousand dollars is quite a bit—but it was a lot of just continuous losses over time that added up.
And so, just to give you kind of the brief history, I gambled—I started probably when I was 22, playing poker. They say I don’t really consider the early gambling—I mean, it was definitely gambling—but problem gambling for me started when I started playing poker. And then, when I got caught at 28—which is a wonderful story, we’ll call it the Riverboat Story—we’ll save that for another episode because that is a story all in of itself. But that was at 28, and so that was the last time I gambled, was on July 15th of 2010, when I was 28 years old.
Since quitting, I’ve become very involved in my local Gamblers Anonymous group. I’m involved in a lot of the Reddit problem gambling; you can find me on there. And also, there’s a Discord chat off of that, and it’s become something that I’ve become—obviously, I’m a compulsive person—I’ve become very interested and involved in my recovery. And this is just one of those other steps to it. But hopefully, that gives you an idea of who I am as a person, and also as a compulsive gambler. Like I say, we’ll go into more about my specifics of gambling because I think that we all like to hear other people’s stories because when we hear it, it starts to make our story make sense. And I’ll definitely cover those in future episodes. But I just wanted to kind of give you a slight background so you understand who I am going into this.
Then, the next part is “what.” What’s this podcast all about? And I think I can just really sum it up by just bringing awareness to problem gambling. It’s something that, as you look at it—I mean, I found out the other day that there is zero dollars of federal funding for problem gambling, and that was just sort of shocking. It’s all left up to the states, but this is a huge health issue, mental health issue, but it’s also a huge financial issue that’s becoming such a bigger issue. And so, if we don’t bring some light onto it, we’re gonna get caught off guard. And so, that’s really what I want to do with this, is bring awareness to problem gambling and bring a voice to it because that’s, I think, the one thing that’s really missing in the world. It’s something that, like I said, we can do it in isolation, and we can keep it very private. For years—I mean, those closest to me sort of knew I gambled, but didn’t know that I gambled, if that makes sense.
And so, we can do it and hide it, but when we hide it, then nobody really starts to learn from it. Nobody’s out there saying, “Hey, like here’s my story,” and being very public with it because there’s so much shame, and there’s a stigma around that. And so, I’m hoping that in bringing this out to the world, other people can start the conversation. And I think Problem Gambling Awareness Month is coming up in March this year, and I think the topic is “start the conversation.” And so, this is my little way of starting the conversation.
And I also think, obviously with that, me sharing my story, this podcast is about helping other people. Whether it’s directly by people that have a problem with gambling and tuned in to the show, and maybe they hear something that works for me, and they use it in their life to help, or it’s helping people that are creating problem gambling campaigns, or that are in that end of things—therapy and health professionals—to start to say, “Okay, like listen to my story and pick it apart and learn from it.” And it’s just another story out there that they can use to grow their knowledge of how problem gamblers think, what we do, and sort of warning signs or red flags to look for in a problem gambler.
Also, in the “what” topic, what type of episodes can you expect? A lot of it will be personal therapy, so it’s gonna be me doing—to share my story. Like I said, I had the Riverboat Story, which is an interesting one; that’s the last day I gambled. But also, just other experiences, and personal therapy is a huge thing. It’s gonna help me quite a bit, and I know it helps others. I love to hear other people’s therapy.
So, a lot of personal therapy, but then we’re also gonna have a lot of interviews. I’m hoping to, like I say, start the conversation within the industry and have this be a place where people come to discuss gambling, to discuss how it impacted their lives, the lives of others, or how they are working to kind of reduce that impact, to help others to abstain from a gambling problem, or doing things with creating new laws and regulations around gambling. So, anything that is newsworthy, I would love to have an interview about. If you’re interested in coming on the show, by all means, email me, reach out to me; would love to have you on.
So, now you have a little idea of who I am and what I’m trying to do with this, the next one being “where.” Where can you find it? Obviously, if you’re listening to it, you’ve already found it somewhere. I’ll try to get it up everywhere. It’s already gonna be on Stitcher, iTunes, and obviously, the other place you can check out is the website, which is gamblingstillsucks.com. And so, check out the website; you can sign up for the newsletter there, which will go out, and it will let you know when new episodes come out, or when new blog posts come out, or sort of if there are new things, like the Problem Gambling Awareness Month.
I’ll be shooting out emails to any subscribers to keep you up to date with all topics around problem gambling. Then the next topic would be “when.” When can you expect future episodes to come out? And my goal is to release an episode a week. We’re gonna start off hopefully with this first five just to get things rolling, so you have a few that you can listen to and get a feel for what the podcast is, sort of what to expect. But then from there, this is gonna be a weekly podcast, and gonna release it on Friday mornings. And my thought is, I know most of my gambling happened on Fridays and into the weekend, because that’s the availability. When you talk about gambling, you need to have available time and opportunity. And so, I feel like releasing it going into the weekend is a great place to sort of provide people with that one thing—maybe they listen to and hopefully it helps get through the weekend till Monday, back to a more structured routine.
And then finally, “why.” Why am I creating this podcast, why am I sharing my whole story with the world? And I already covered earlier in the “what” it’s all about that this is all about bringing awareness, and that’s definitely true. But the other part of the “why” is just, this is gonna help me tremendously. I know, in sharing my story, it’s like taking off the chains and becoming free. There’s so much shame and stigma around problem gambling. Even now that I have seven and a half years of clean time, I still don’t feel like I’m completely comfortable sharing everything. And for me, it’s sort of sad, because I can help other people, and it’s something that now I should be proud of.
And so, I think by sharing it—and I found over the years that every person that I share my background or my experience or the fact that I’m a problem gambler with—I just make it so much easier for me to stay quit. It’s almost like creating this giant system of accountability, right? I mean, if you tell somebody, you’re gonna know that they’re gonna kind of keep an eye out for you. And if you were ever going out with them and say that somebody said, “Well, let’s go to the casino,” they could be somebody that could be an advocate for you and say, “No, no, no, we don’t wanna go there.”
And so, the more people I tell, it’s just gonna make my life easier. But it’s also just gonna help me to get these stories out. I know in dealing with my problem gambling and also some other mental health issues, I get in trouble when I try and do things on my own, when I try and talk everything through my head. And when I get it out, everything becomes so much clearer, and easier, and freer. There’ve been so many times where I’m really stressed out, and when I finally just say something to somebody, all of a sudden, the next day I wake up, and I’m like, “I’m not even stressed out about that anymore.” And I didn’t really do anything about it other than just bring it up and get it out of my head.
And so, that’s gonna be a big part of this, just getting all this stuff out of my head and sharing to help myself. And so, if in helping myself, I can also help others by providing this resource that people can check into—because I know there’s another problem gambling podcast out there, and you should definitely check it out, and it’s helped me out tremendously. I listen to it every time there’s a new episode; I like to listen to it. And so, I know how much podcasts can help people, and so hopefully this will be able to also help others as well.
So that’s the other half of my “why.” And I think, in summary, sometimes I just think, look, we’re all dying, and if I were to die tomorrow and I still had this story inside me, I think it would be my biggest failure. And so, I don’t want to have that regret. Regret’s a big piece of my life—of doing things so I don’t have regret at the end. And looking back in 30 years, if the landscape of gambling completely changes and there’s all these problems, and I see it affecting others that I know, in my family or friends, and if I think back—I mean, at that point, I won’t know, and I’m not gonna be able to impact everybody’s life—but that thought of, “Man, if I would have just said something, could it have helped them?” That thought would sting me; it would be painful. I wouldn’t want to have that, and I don’t want to have that.
And so, now if I share all this stuff, and I get this out, and I have this out in the world to help people, then they’re gonna make their own decision at the end of the day. But I feel like I did my part. I’ve paid it forward. I’ve taken my negative experience and used it as a positive to help other people and put it out there. And all I can do is just do my best with it. And what other people do with any of this content, listening to it, and applying it to their life, that is out of my hands. But I can control sharing my message, and so that’s why I’m here.
And so, that’s it, that’s the who, what, where, when, and why of the Gambling Still Sucks podcast. I’m glad you stopped in, glad you listened. Hopefully, you’re gonna tune in to the next episode. And the next episode is an important one; it’s one where I’m gonna share the kind of the steps and the actions that I take in my day-to-day life that have allowed me to finally quit gambling—I’d like to think for good. But I’m aware that it’s a constant process. But I am very, very confident that if I continue following this plan and these actions that I have in place now, the seven and a half years I have, I’m just going to continue to build on that, a day at a time. And so, I’ll be sharing those things with you and look forward as you seeing you in the next episode. Thanks for tuning in.
And finally, please subscribe. If you can subscribe to the podcast, that would be awesome. That way, you will be notified when new podcasts come out. But then, the other thing—if this at all appeals to you and you feel like it might help other people—I would really, really, really appreciate if you would leave a review. And I know I’m guilty of not leaving reviews for people, and so it’s weird when you ask for one, but the one thing is when people leave reviews, it really, really helps to spread the word. It’s what iTunes, Stitcher, and all these different platforms use in their algorithm to figure out which things they want to show people. And the more reviews that the show gets, the more likely we’ll be featured, and the higher we’ll rank in order to let people find it.
And obviously, in the topic of gambling, most of the podcasts are gonna be “how to find the key bet for the weekend,” not “how to not bet.” And so, in a sense, we’re already sort of up against it, and being the one pushing back against the big-time gambling advertising. And so my ask, this one little small thing, this huge request from me, is just to subscribe but then also leave a review, because it will help get the message to more people.
So, I thank you, I appreciate you, and I look forward to talking to you in the next episode. As a disclaimer, this podcast does not provide legal or medical advice. Look, I’m not a doctor, I’m not an attorney, and I’m not a therapist. I’m just a guy that had a gambling problem. So while we’ll discuss a lot of topics, and I’ll provide a lot of insight into what’s worked for me, please seek out the help of a professional. Go visit a lawyer, a doctor, or a therapist to help you deal with your gambling problem. The information that we discuss is for informational purposes and should not be taken as professional legal or medical advice. And reliance on the information appearing on this podcast is solely at your own risk.
The music for this podcast is “Something Elated” by Broke For Free and is licensed under the Creative Commons.