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"Sports betting is good for the soul. It gives you the satisfaction of victory, the disappointment of defeat; it delivers elation and depression. It keeps your blood running and your mind alert. It gives you goals and interests and daily deadlines."
- J. R. Miller


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"...Instead of trying to teach a "gambleholic" how to stop gambling, why not teach him how to stop losing?"


Soon after the publication of my book, How Professional Gamblers Beat The Pro Football Pointspread, I was invited to speak at various sports betting seminars and to appear on radio & television shows and to write articles about sports betting for various gambling publications. One of the good things about my celebrity was meeting a lot of Las Vegas insiders, including very successful sports handicappers. I first met Bob McCune and Jack Painter, for example, when they invited me to speak to their class at Clark County Community College, Las Vegas. Their endorsement of my book contributed much to its early success. In addition to Bob and Jack, I've also been lucky enough to meet such recognized experts in the field as Lem Banker, Sonny Reizner, Peter Ruchman, Howard Schwartz, Mort Olshan, Donald Currier, Larry Grossman, Marty Mendohlsen, and many others.

You've probably heard of some or all of those men. Interestingly, one widely known sports bettor told me he's a 'gambleholic.' In fact, he thought a lot of other full time sports bettors could be grouped under that title.

This fellow lives in the Las Vegas area, and you'd probably know his name, but there's no need to mention it here. There's rarely a day that this man doesn't bet on a sporting event, and he's very successful. He has a sprawling, luxuriously appointed home, complete with a breathtaking swimming pool, a trophy wife, children, luxury cars, and all the 'ordinary' trappings of wealth.

I asked him if there was anything he thought might make a good subject for my next newspaper article. "Yes," he answered. "Why not do a page or two on gambleholics? Tell them gambling isn't really a mental problem at all."

"It isn't?" I asked.

"No, it isn't," he said. "...The problem isn't 'gambling' - the problem is 'losing.'"

I asked him to explain. I could tell he'd thought a lot about what he said.

"Look, J. R., you hear about guys who gamble away everything they own...They ruin their marriage, lose their job, end up stealing...but if these guys knew how to win, they wouldn't have a problem in the first place...

"They're told to go to a doctor, get counseling, get psychotherapy, get cured. The doctor sets out to replace the guy's personality. Why not teach him how to stop losing? That would be a lot simpler than replacing the guy's personality."

"...Instead of teaching (a "gambleholic") how to stop gambling, why not teach him how to stop losing?"

I told him I suspected a lot of so-called 'gambleholics' had no desire to win in the first place. I thought they were suffering from some sort of self-punishment thing. Gambling is just a handy way they could punish themselves.

"That's exactly right," he answered. "Losing...Losing's the problem. Not gambling. If you took away gambling from these guys they would just find another way to ruin themselves. Why waste time on their so-called need to gamble when somebody ought to be working on their real problem - which is their need to lose?"

I admitted it was an interesting idea.

"Look, J. R.," he said, "What's it take to be an addict? Is it doing something you love most all the time? I do that. Is it being wholly concentrated on your favorite subject? I do that. I think about gambling most all the time. According to what I've read and heard, I'm a gambleholic. If I don't have any action for awhile, I actually get nervous. I love to gamble. It's the most fun thing I can think of...But I don't feel sick or crazy about it. In fact, I feel lucky. I get to make a living doing something I love to do. Isn't that what it's all about? Some guys spend a hundred hours a week selling real estate. Are they sick? Are they 'sales-aholics?'"

"Maybe they're workaholics," I answered.

"All right," he answered. "Let's call them 'workaholics.' Trouble is, as soon as you put a name to it, it sounds like some sort of nifty disease...'Workaholic.' Sounds serious, all right, - but just because some psychologist comes up with a trick new word, there's nothing really wrong with loving what you do, is there?"

"Well, not unless it interferes with other parts of your life," I said.

"...And that's where the losing comes in," he answered. "If a workaholic is making a fortune, he's regarded as a successful entrepreneur, or even a genius. Look at Donald Trump. He's certainly not regarded as a failure. But if his business goes bad and he goes broke, why are we suddenly supposed to believe he has mental problems? Why reprogram himself to not enjoy the business? Doesn't it make more sense to find out why things went bad, and fix them?"

You have to agree that my friend has an interesting point, although highly controversial.

I believe there is at least some truth in what he says. I am also positive that most losers at sports betting do not have some sort of need to punish themselves; they simply love to bet on sports but haven't learned what it takes to win.

It's been my experience that most losers fail to recognize there are two distinct factors separating 'habitual' winners from 'habitual' losers. The ability to pick winners is only one of those two factors. The other is correct money management. Both those factors must be mastered before they can gain success. I've also found that many, if not most, 'habitual' losers can pick at least slightly more than fifty percent winners. Picking winners isn't their problem. Their problem is in managing their bankroll. They have not given enough time and effort to understanding and recognizing how to use correct money management. They regard sports betting as a chance to ‘rob the bank’ rather than a serious investment opportunity, similar in many ways to investing in stocks or commodities. They have the idea that if they can pick winners, money management will take care of itself.

No, it won't. In fact, faulty money management will kill a sports bettor much faster than an inability to pick winners.

Probably no more than two or three percent of all sports bettors ever gain the top rung of their profession, but that's how it is in most any profession. Only two or three percent of doctors ever reach the very top of their profession, and it's the same with lawyers, teachers, salesmen, fiction writers, actors, or whatever. The question is, if a salesman loves selling but he's a failure at it, should he try to reprogram his personality to not love selling? Or should he simply find out what he's doing wrong?

For most people, the answer seems obvious.

Make no mistake about it, there are people out there with problems concerning a need to ruin themselves, and gambling is a handy way to do just that. However, if these people didn't use gambling as their vehicle for self-destruction, they'd find another way. Some would max out their credit cards, or go on binge buying sprees, or quit their jobs, or whatever. Their problem really isn't with gambling; it's with their need to self-destruct.

In any case, most losing sports bettors aren't going to quit betting on sports, even if they get professional counseling. My friend, the 'gambleholic,' has a point. I believe that most losing sports bettors would be better off learning what it takes to win, rather than hiring a psychiatrist to dismantle and rebuild their personality.

-J. R. Miller


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How to Profit from Parlays
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Successful Gamblers

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NFL Stats

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How Professional Gamblers Beat the Pro Football Pointspread
- J. R. Miller
How to Profit from Parlays
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Successful Gamblers
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Education of a Sports Bettor
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Revelations in Sports Betting
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