Get practical support with your gambling problem Forum Friends and Family Online poker is my boyfriend’s ‘job’

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    My boyfriend plays online poker and says it is ‘his job.’ He puts several hours in every day, reads books on poker theory and talks about it openly with me in the same way as I talk about my afternoon at work.
    He first told me he was doing this early on in our relationship, he’s never hidden it from me. But when he told me about it he said he felt some shame.
    He explained that he’s ‘not a gambler because he’s a winning player.’ (This sounds dodgy to me). I’m not remotely interested in playing cards, but I wasn’t worried about him doing it at the start. However, now the relationship is becoming more serious and I’m looking towards a potential future with him (I’m in my 30s and would like to settle down/have kids in the not-too-distant future) I’m getting worried.
    Usually he doesn’t play when we’re together but several times recently he has said he can’t sleep/needs to smoke, and he got up and ended up playing til 4 or 5am. When we aren’t together he does ‘night shifts’, playing all night, eating terrible food and chain-smoking. It really disturbs me. I’ve been feeling guilty, like I should be more ‘cool’, relaxed and tolerant…but I can’t help feeling suspicious and worried.
    According to him, it isn’t an addiction as he can prioritise other more important things (such as his ‘real’ job, and me) over poker, and can stop playing if he wants/needs to. I can’t tell if he’s being honest or not but I do know I’m afraid that even if it’s not an addiction now, it may become one at a later stage.
    He is a lovely, kind, gentle man and he doesn’t neglect commitments he makes to me because of this poker ‘job’ but it still worries me. He has said he’ll adjust his schedule for me (the late nights disturb me) but in terms of our future I’d much rather he stop playing altogether – but I am afraid to ask him this, to set an ultimatum that may backfire.
    He says he does it because he enjoys the game, and also because he makes a lot of money which he is saving for the future (for the house and kids I also want!) – money he isn’t able to make from his official job. That he has a talent for poker and he’d be silly not to profit from the opportunity to make a bunch of cash doing it while the ‘boom’ lasts…It’s hard to argue with this, especially considering the current financial crisis etc…And, I don’t have a very large income myself so I understand the concerns for the future. Then again, it would never occur to me to gamble to provide financial security for myself (sounds like a contradiction to me!!) and I was brought up to believe you get a job and work if you want money! I know it sounds close-minded and judgemental but I’m finding it hard to let go of these ideas that were drummed into me at an early age!
    I’d be really grateful for advice from anyone who may recognise themselves or their partner in this story…
    Thanks a lot


    Dear Mookie
    I don’t find your mind closed or judgemental – I think you have every right to be very concerned about your boyfriend. I think it would be worth your while downloading the GA – 20 questions which you can find in ‘Resources’ at the top of this page Click on to ‘Resources’ and in ‘Location’ scroll down to ‘world’. Click ‘Gambling help’ and then ‘Search’.   Scroll down to ‘Gamblers anonymous – Twenty Questions’. Most compulsive gamblers will answer yes to at least seven of these questions.   In my opinion most members who have lived with the compulsion to gamble will also be able to answer yes to at leave seven of those questions which hopefully will help you to ‘know’ what you are, or are not, dealing with.
    Compulsive Gamblers are normally charming and lovely – it is their way to get the enablement they need to feed their addiction.
    Unfortunately Gambling Therapy is not funded for the UK and although I appreciate how difficult it was for you to write this thread I am going to have to direct you to for your support.   Please cut and paste your post – you should talk about your situation further.
    I believe that when you are in doubt with the addiction to gamble you should do nothing until you have knowledge of it because knowledge will give you power over it and help you make the informed decisions that are right for you.    
    Your boyfriend is very convincing but the addiction to gamble is the master of manipulation. There is in the UK a fantastic rehab, the details about which can be found below this forum in ‘GMA residential treatment Q&A’. You will possibly feel this is a bit too much for your boyfriend at this time but I mention it because it was where my CG went and changed his life.   If in the future your boyfriend needed a signpost to recovery then knowing about the Gordon Houses will be good for you.
    I do wish you well – below this forum we have a Friends and Family topic forum where we have focussed on different issues that affect those who love CGs – you are welcome to go through them and see if there is anything to help you.  
    I would not be writing on here if I didn’t know that the addiction to gamble can be controlled.  
    Gamanon, the sister group of GA is also available for Friends and Family of CGs.   It was where I found my salvation.
    Once again – I wish you well


    Hi Velvet,
    Thanks a lot for your reply. At the moment I’m really not sure if it’s an addiction (I know addictions when I see them as I’m an ex problem-drinker) as he does seem able to take it or leave it. It’s more that I find the idea of playing poker for a living pretty empty…

    His other argument is that poker isn’t like betting on horses or whatever, because it’s a game of skill, and therefore if you are skilled, you don’t lose. He’s been doing it for years and says he’s reached an advanced level where he makes money, but never plays higher stakes than he can afford so it’s not risky.
    I’ve agreed to spend some time with him getting informed about the game and how he manages the risk element – balancing wins and loses (he admits he sometimes loses but says that his funds always balance out long term and ultimately he’s making a lot of money) but the bottom line is that he seems to be saying he’s not willing to stop, it’s a case of me getting used to the idea. Hmm. I’m not sure this is going to happen!


    Hi Mookie
    Ive altered your location to "World" as were not funded to support UK residents and I’m aware that you’re not UK I didnt want you not to recieve the support you deserve
    Mookie the arguments used " because it’s a game of skill, and therefore if you are skilled you don’t loose is an argument I used for over 20 years.
    The truth is simple and really shouldn’t be over analysed as it just causes confusion. I’m a poker player, I’d say I’m a very good poker player but I can ****** you I’m not rich and I can ****** you poker in my case and the case of any compulsive gambler will never make us rich… why, If we are truly compulsive gamblers were always take higher risks, spend more time analysing the game, increase stakes and by the nature of the addiction we won’t walk away irrespective of outside influences, we lose our values and morals
    I think the best example of this for me was when I was married, Poker cost me allot of money but more importantly it cost me my wife family & friends,  anyway Id almost lost every penny when I had a win, a fairly large win and at that moment I can remember crying as I truly wanted to lose so I could go home but whilst there was a bank roll I couldn’t go home, I spent the next hours trying to lose. I believe it was 2am when the casino shut and I had to go home. On returning I hid my winnings and the next day went back to the casino.
    Gambling in the end isn’t about money and with poker players we all assume we have a skill element, but a CG as skilled as he maybe will always lose in the end and take his family down with him.
    But there is a huge point here. I recognised after 25 years that I had a problem, I’m a compulsive gambler and for that reason I sought help and I now know categorically that I cannot gamble…. But this can also be a form of entertainment and not a problem for a non compulsive gambler, yes this addiction is progressive he may or may not be addicted he may or may not become addicted but the fact your concerned and to me that’s the only thing he should have a concern over, Its time you talked to him this is a fabulous link full of information that may help you
    Please keep talking, please keep learning but always remember this is your life and you have the right to make decisions based on what’s right for you, A compulsive gambler however will give a little to appease you but will hold back enough to allow our addiction to form if that’s the direction he’s travelling in
    Your last line " I’ve agreed to spend some time with him getting informed about the game and how he manages the risk element – balancing wins and losses" please don’t… if you truly have concerns all your succeed in doing is becoming part of his system and almost giving him the green light to continue.
    Take Care
    Harry25 year poker player, 25 year Hierarchal fool, 25 year ego boost…  Intellectualisation was my down fall, simplicity was my salvation


    Hi Harry,
    Thanks for your reply. I do feel however that I can’t convincingly say I am ‘against’ online poker when I don’t even know how the game works or how he plays. That’s why I agreed on an ‘information session.’
    I also feel instinctively that he isn’t compulsive or addicted but I find the lifestyle he has due to poker pretty unappealing: he stays up til 5am chainsmoking and eating rubbish while he plays and then sleeps til midday. (I mean come on, there’s a world out there! and I want to be part of it and be a useful member of society!!). It seems such a pointless and empty way to spend your time. Especially when he has another occupation which is really wonderful and something a lot of people would kill to be able to do. I don’t get it!
    He didn’t seem willing to consider stopping when we last discussed this…he was much more focussed on my informing myself and ‘accepting it over time.’ I really really don’t think I will. But there is so much good about him too that I don’t want to take a black and white stance and throw away the relationship…then again I don’t see how I can help him if he doesn’t see a problem 🙁


    Dear Mookie
    In my opinion, an information session would be dangerous. I don’t know if your boyfriend is, or is not a CG but as his behaviour implies he is, then you are stronger than he.   I believe, therefore, you should be the person he can trust to support him and not enable his addiction. I am not asking you to see things in black and white but you are living in the darkest of grey.  I would not want to see you back again in a year with a child and a mortgage, your dreams of a future shattered and everything you own lost.  
    You say you are an ex-problem drinker – there is no ex-compulsive gambler – there is no cure for the addiction to gamble.   I have heard many CGs calling poker a skill – it is their addiction talking.   It is very sad but if he is a CG, that belief will ruin him and those around him- if they allow it to do so. 
    How long have you been with your boyfriend?   How long has he been showing this addictive behaviour?   You cannot stop him gambling – only he can do that. You can point him towards help and support, you can sow the seeds of recovery but the best thing you can do is look after you and not enable him in this behaviour. 
    I am very aware how good people can be addicted to gambling. I am very aware of the level of support that a CG ***** if they are to control their addiction.   It takes a courage and strength to control this addiction and we as non-CGs cannot imagine how we would cope if we had it – we also ‘cannot’ know what it is like to own it however much information we get. 
    If your boyfriend is not willing to consider stopping then an information session where you show an interest could be a tipping point between what is possibly a serious problem or a full blown addiction – it would be as a green light to his addiction that you were willing to accept its power.  
    If you want to gamble on line then that is your choice and I cannot tell you what to do.  I would hope that you would not do this with your boyfriend however, if you are able to walk away then that is good for you but from what you say he probably does not have that ability and I think that is one risk too many to take.  
    Read the posts in ‘My Journal’ and in this forum – all the information you need is here written in the tears of thousands.
    Look after yourself Mookie. 

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