When one considers the life of the professional gambler, they usually see in their mind’s eye the avid and enthusiastic gentleman in fine clothes, climbing aboard a Jumbo Jet, heading off to some romantic city like Madrid, Paris, Las Vegas, pockets full of cash and wearing the lucky dice cufflinks given to him by his loving children.
While much of that tableau is true – the Jumbo jet, the romantic city, the fine clothes -there are seven great woes, reminders that this life is not for the weak mind or the gentle heart. This business of taking on the best in the world in their home city, of facing not only the skillful but the blind lucky, is a world that can only be defined by these cold challenges.The following are a compilation of the challenges that a professional gambler faces, every day. They are only in alphabetic order; any one of them can end a career, and any combination of them may be what you face in your path as a professional. If you can face and overcome the Seven Woes, you may be a champion in the making.
The very concept of a protracted competition, the likes of which creates the big pots, the big wins in a gambler’s life is one they dread and embrace at the same time. In cases of large tournaments, the competitors may face actual health issues from many hours of the competitions, the long hours standing or waiting, or even being deprived access to bathrooms, for fear of missing something.
And deprivation need not be at the hands of events of this type; gamblers are known to have spent untold hours playing, and in at lest once case from China, a player is said to have died from exhaustion while gambling.
The professional gambler learns his limits, recognizes the boundaries, and takes preemptive action where possible, and reactive personal care and discipline where necessary.
In pursuit of a career as gambler, often situations lend themselves to discombobulating him or her. The long, bright-lit hours in countless casinos, the constant travel between locations and the uncomfortable and unfamiliar hotel rooms, all cause the gambler’s mind to lose its bearings.
Add to these exotic issues to the more classic trauma of jet lag, lost luggage, and changes in time zones or across the dateline and the professional gambler is wholly out of sorts.
Fortunately, the consummate professional will develop techniques for clearing his mind, focusing his ability and taking the chaos into account at every turn.
Even in the casino games a gambler has come to know and enjoy, the feeling of hollowness is pervasive. Between the feelings that the winning only covers the losses, the awareness that to run with the big games, they must pay the high expenses – travel tickets, hotels, restaurants, these things are not free or even cheap – puts a level of futility on their very existence.
Add to this the incessant psychological war between the ‘house’ and the professional gambler, and you have a level of worthlessness that can paralyze the gambler, throw him off his game.
The indomitable spirit of the lifetime professional gambler not only casts this emotional baggage to the side, he recognizes the attacks as proof that he is the real threat, and supplants futility with resolve, and a willingness to prevail despite the odds of the game.
Human beings are designed to desire the company and companionship of others. The very nature of the gambling lifestyle, however, flies in the face of this need. This lifestyle inevitably creates difficulties that prevent most from having a normal family life, and even should they succeed, the family members have to be very special indeed, to endure the time apart, not to mention the highs and lows in every category of existence.
Even in the cases where a gambler is very successful, the hot streaks and adverse results that typify a cold streak have their own challenges to stability. Not a few gamblers have had to change their residence from time to time, and have gone long periods without proper medical coverage, even for life-threatening illness or injury.
A person dedicated to gambling at the professional level will recognize the sacrifice and realize that the time he has with his family is not compromised by a job or activity that takes him away, and that the time he is away, it is precisely for his loved ones that he plies his trade. “Play hard to Play hard” is an easy way to understand the mindset that the professional gambler must take to overcome instability.
As mentioned above, human nature demands interaction, and though games are most often against human competitors, the actual dynamics that are required are perfect breeding grounds for emotional distress, emptiness and loneliness. The gambler must make cold, hard decisions without a consulting partner, and the hours, travel, and environment simply isolate the gambler further.
Add to these conditions the detachment that is necessary to take down an opponent in head to head play, or to face down opponents and put them out of the competition is harrowing and can contribute to a cold and seemingly disconnected existence.
As a defense against loneliness, the professional gambler takes time to reconnect when he is ‘off tour’ and lives as fully in those times as possible. If he has been successful, this is easier, but even if he has had a bad run, the human interaction recharges his soul, so he is ready again for the next sortie.d lives as fully in those times as possible. If he has been successful,
Perhaps the most dangerous of the Gambler’s Woes is the sheer misery of a ‘bad streak’ – those inevitable yet gloriously horrifying times of loss after loss. In certain cases, this level of disappointment nears the point of desperation, and very little can be done, other than to limit the losses, and put the period behind them.
Should the misery actually come from a different area of life – family, friends, a favorite sports team – getting back into the game can actually bring the player new perspective or at least a stronger resolve to move beyond the sadness, the emptiness.
Professionals recognize these periods as a natural condition, and put their years of experience to work helping them overcome these distractions.
Perhaps the least dangerous, but nonetheless important, is the feeling of not belonging. Whether it is missing home or the realization that gambling puts the professional in a place that is not his and surrounds him with opulence and value that is not his. Even the associations, connections, and contacts he has at table are only acquaintances; he has virtually nothing there that belongs to him.
These distractions can be debilitating, particularly when combined with others from the collection of woes, and can cause a lack of confidence, even putting the player off his game.
The veteran gambler will, however, recognize his own value and merit and see the location and the world itself to be his arena. because wherever the gambler is, is his shot at the big time, and whether he wins or loses, the value was in getting to play the game.
In conclusion, the woes of a gambler are, on reflection, the same woes we all face. With our secure lives and our solid ground, we believe that we don’t have his challenges. But in a greater sense, life itself is a gamble, and perhaps the professional only meets his challenges more directly, honestly, and candidly that we ever could.