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Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Punting can be fun, but don't end up Falling Underwater..

I heard the ex-snooker player and suicide-survivor Willie Thorne on Hawksbee & Jacob's talkSPORT show earlier today:

He's just written a book about his life, which is littered with references to his battle with depression.  This will surprise many members of the public who, like myself, thought Thorne was a happy-go-lucky sort of chap with an excellently sculpted moustache and a wife who is clearly a couple of metaphorical boxing divisions above him. 

Entitled "Taking a Punt on my Life", and I'm paraphrasing / guessing here as I have not read it, his autobiography recollects a career in snooker that provided Big Willie's only viable option for making much-needed money to pay back an ever-increasing number of loan sharks to whom debts spiralled out of control.  These lenders, Willie stressed, were not the nicest of people.

Now, this blog is primarily about gambling, trading, playing the markets... call it what you will.  Until the day that I lay every horse in a race or offer odds on every conceivable event, I am a first and foremost, a backer.  They say you never find a poor bookie, so I would love to be able to use the Betfair interface to play the role of the bookie at all times and thus fall into that utopian category.. but I prefer to punt. 

I like the thrill of it rather than the business of it.  Don't get me wrong, there are times when I will trade and masquerade as the bookmaker. Take last week, for example: having backed Roger Federer to beat Nole Djokovic in the US Open semi-final, I layed off the Swiss when he had his two match points and fell to 1.06 on the exchange. Having been in an almost identical position the year before, I had declined that option...and lost £425.  I went to bed that night feeling ill.  This year I had learnt my lesson, and walked away from the match virtually unscathed.  But I still lost £300 laying 0-0 in the QPR v Newcastle game (how that ended goalless I do not know) and my UK Betfair P&L for the past 11 days may disturb those of a nervous disposition:

Boxing: -£34.50 | Cricket: £103.76 | Horse Racing: £13.62 | Soccer: -£159.80 | Tennis: -£372.66 Total P&L:  -£449.58

Listening to Willie on the wireless earlier made me think how lucky I am to live in the age where blogging means I can be open and honest to my readers, even if the numbers of my online readership does fail to outnumber the total amount of goals scored by Leyton Orient so far this season.

He said that he bottled up his problems with gambling, lied to his family and friends, and woke up in the middle of the night, his mind reeling with stress and depression trying to deal with it all.  I wake up in the middle of the night and all I want to do is post on Twitter about my thoughts surrounding the overnight developments in some far-away golf or snooker tournament, or check the Met office's forecast for the next day's weather overhead at the home of cricket.

We live in an age where every advertisement break brings you face-to-face with Ray Winstone telling you to "Bet in Play..NAAAAW", Will Hills bombarding you with old-skool hip-hop beats, and Paddy Power promotions using hot girls with a hint of irony to appeal to the cheeky chancers amongst us.  There is temptation all around.  But there are also myriad sites and organisations that can help those feeling their heinous habit of parting with their cash to bolster their beliefs is running away from them.  There is more opportunity than ever to get your thoughts out in the open.  Willie has done his bit to help, and although he had a reputation for choking at the baize (which he says is mainly due to the fact that he was under more pressure to make money from snooker than most), my admiration for him has certainly been enhanced by hearing him air his opinions out loud, in the open and with a frankness that many punters, gamblers or traders could benefit from facing up to.

1 comment:

  1. that story about never seeing a poor bookie - it's a myth. Plenty of them have gone bust over the years. It's just when they get really big, they will stay big - unlike big punters, who almost always find a way to blow the lot.