A student at Cambridge University has spoken exclusively to The Linc about his secret life as an online poker player.
The 20 year-old Mathematics student, who wished to remain anonymous, ended his first year just $100 dollars up. He changed the website he used and started to play cash games during his summer break. “The players were simply terrible. Every time I moved up I couldn’t believe there were still players happy to throw their money away. It seemed like overnight I went from break-even to consistent winner. By the end of the holiday I had a few thousand.”
As he entered his second year he started living with some of his friends who had also been playing online poker. “That was when the degeneracy really started…. we’d play in one room with benches along the walls and shelves across the arms with laptops on them. There were normally four of us, with one or two occasionals to the ‘gamble den’. It was an invaluable situation, being able to exchange thoughts and keep a good morale [at all times]. [It was] easy to get demoralized by a badly timed downswing or just lose the plot completely if you’re playing alone at your computer day-in day-out.”
He then began playing during all of his waking hours. “How could I bring myself to go to lectures, training or dinner when I was making $100 an hour? How could I leave the tables when they’re this good, I thought?”
The irregular sleeping patterns and meal-skipping had an adverse affect on his health. He also had concerns about his lifestyle. “I remember thinking ‘man, I’m f****d up’ as I heard my parents getting up in the morning after I’d won or lost four or five figures during the night.”
Soon he became blasé about losing large sums of money; “I remember waiting for a taxi on New Year ‘s Eve so checked the tables… by the time the taxi arrived I was down $18k. That sort of thing I more or less took in my stride after a while.”
On top of his health, his university work had also suffered badly. By the time his exams came around in his second year, he knew it was time to stop.
By this point, he had built up a six-figure sum through poker winnings. He offers reasons for his anonymity, stating “the inflated appeal to an identity thief… tax laws regarding gambling earnings are still a grey area in the UK… owing to the bad grades I got in the first two years, there are a few heads around the uni that I’d prefer didn’t find out what I’ve been up to. Also, since I’m yet to find a dignified response to the question ‘didn’t you win X playing online poker?’, I’d certainly not like to hear it more often!”
If you think you have a gambling problem then contact GamCare on 0845 6000 133 for advice on how to quit gambling.