Sunday, 13 July 2014
Adventures in Gambling
On my sixteenth birthday, I marched into my local village shop (well, as much of a march as a girl can do without getting mud from her wellies everywhere) and handed £1 to the shopkeeper, requesting one Lucky Dip for the lottery. Doing the lottery was never going to become a habit of mine, but I figured it didn't need to because I could feel that I was going to win that first time. I could see the newspaper headlines: 'Teen Cashes In On First Ever Lotto!!!'
Of course I didn't win the lottery that weekend. And I know it's ridiculous and naive, but occasionally I'll still get a little niggling feeling when I'm standing in a checkout line, and end up buying a scratch card or a ticket for the EuroMillions. And I've never won so much as a tenner, but you have to admit there's a certain buzz that comes with the anticipation of some completely undeserved cash, and I can kill hours in my overactive imagination figuring out exactly how I'll spend my winnings.
My dad and older brothers are moderate gamblers when it comes to sports, and on my visits home it's pretty common to find a grown man shouting at a television. I've never felt any desire to join them; partly because I don't know anything about sports, but mainly because I am really stingy about money and not much of a risk-taker.
But then the World Cup happened.
And suddenly it's not just my football loving family who's placing bets, but it's my spouse and my closest friends. And hey, I managed to shake off the peer pressure for drinking and smoking, so I think I'm allowed a two week vice every four years.
So here's what happened: I opened an account with a popular betting website, and I deposited £5 into my 'wallet'. [Reminder to all: if you ever want financial help from a bank, chances are they won't give you one if they see you depositing money into a betting site on a frequent basis. Just so you know!]
I promised myself that this £5 was all I'd allow myself to play with, and when it was gone, I was done. And when the World Cup ended, I was also done. Forever.
It's probably worth saying at this point that I know nothing about football. But I got weirdly into checking the pundit's predictions for each match before I spread out my modest pennies, and for the first time in my life, 90 minutes of sport sailed by in an ~almost~ enjoyable manner. I began to shout at players who weren't pulling their weight. 'Stop diving!' became a commonly-used phrase, as did 'What are you doing!?'
By the end of my first night, my balance was at £5.70 or so. By then I had decided that this is how I will make my million. I would turn this £5 into thousands. It was my own little American Dream.
It lasted a day. The blame lies with Greece, Uruguay, and many others. I also have to admit I wanted to see if virtual arcade games were easier than real life ones. They're not. I lost £1.
So as this final week drew to a close, I found myself dangerously close to zero, and feared I wouldn't even be able to go out with a bang, or a bet, as the case is. Thankfully the Netherlands brought my humble balance up to a respectable £0.68 which I have placed in its entirety on Germany.
If Germany wins tonight, I'll be checking out of my account with a little less than £2.
In a way, I'm glad I'm walking away having lost money, because it reaffirms my doubts about gambling, and I'll not be tempted to continue placing little bets here and there, because you tend to forget that it's real money when you're online, and I think that's a little dangerous when your bank balance looks like mine does!
Overall, though, nothing ventured nothing gained. Everything in moderation. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.
Yours, cliché loving and money losing,