Advice Needed: Player in Home Game w/ Gambling Addiction (1 Viewer)

cpac54

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Looking for some advice.

It's become clear that one of the players in our group has a severe gambling addiction, to the point where several of us have discussed if/what we should do about it?

The player in question lost his job earlier this year, which has perhaps made the addiction component more noticeable to us. He used to borrow money from some players in the past, and still does, but nobody even had any issues with getting paid back. Since he's been looking for work, he spends his days and nights playing online poker, blackjack, slots, sports betting, you name it.

Recently he revealed that he was down approx $15k playing poker this year and approx $10k playing online casino games. He mentioned he wanted to take a poker break, but in the next breath sends photo updates to our group chat from the poker room almost daily. He can't seem to help himself.

It's at the point where several players have expressed concern privately to those of us in the group who host and we've wondered what we should do to help/address the situation. Stop inviting him to home games? 1 on 1 intervention?

If someone else out there has any experience with a situation like this and has some advice they'd like to share either here or via PM, I'd be grateful.

Thanks.
 
Is this a good friend? 1 on 1 heart to heart if thats the case. Only an acquaintance? Stop inviting him to home games and if he presses, be honest and say that you're concerned about past borrowing behaviors and that since he's known to be in debt, can't be trusted to honor those from your game until his debts are cleared.
 
I don’t know how big your game is but it may serve as a spot where he can whet his gambling taste but not break the bank. Although usually those people are hooked on the thrill of losing.
 
Is this a good friend? 1 on 1 heart to heart if thats the case. Only an acquaintance? Stop inviting him to home games and if he presses, be honest and say that you're concerned about past borrowing behaviors and that since he's known to be in debt, can't be trusted to honor those from your game until his debts are cleared.
Not a good friend, but has been a regular in our games now for 2-3 years. I have a personal policy of never lending money out, but others in our group do, but have always been paid back. I think otherwise, that would be a far easier discussion to have.
 
I don’t know how big your game is but it may serve as a spot where he can whet his gambling taste but not break the bank. Although usually those people are hooked on the thrill of losing.
We play .50/1 mainly with max 200BB buy-ins. Games don't play overly large.

That said, player in question, whilst historically a loose player, has been extra loose in recent months and has regularly been the biggest loser.

He lost 1000BB last week before I insisted that it wasn't his night and he reluctantly went home.
 
An insidious problem. No easy solution but you're right, loss of a job, and therefore security, probably made it that much worse. Only advice is seek professional help and invite him to distractions. Watch a basketball game, play a board game or go for a hike.

If you have contacts, try to get him a job, that goes such a long way.
 
Is this a good friend? 1 on 1 heart to heart if thats the case. Only an acquaintance? Stop inviting him to home games and if he presses, be honest and say that you're concerned about past borrowing behaviors and that since he's known to be in debt, can't be trusted to honor those from your game until his debts are cleared.
This is very solid advice right here.

You definitely don't want to be an enabler even if your stakes are modest. It sounds like he's at the point where he just feels no pain and that mean he will keep digging himself deeper whether it's €‎100 a night or €‎1000 a night.

"Mike Caro, The Mad Genius of Poker, speaks on a concept he calls “The Threshold of Misery.” In my words, he means that as we move in a negative direction, experiencing more and more discomfort along the way, we reach a point at which the discomfort no longer matters to us. Once we cross the threshold, we continue blindly in the same direction without regard for the additional misery we are causing ourselves.

In poker, this means once we lose a certain amount of money, the additional losses are easier to accept, and thus, we continue to lose. In life, it’s a bad relationship that we just accept or a bad business decision that we continue with in spite of additional misfortune.

We should strive to ascertain where these thresholds of misery exist in all we do and ensure that we do not cross them. If it becomes obvious that we are headed to one of these thresholds, we should turn around or at least stop."

https://1technation.com/threshold-misery/
 
A low stakes unraked home poker game is probably the least -EV place to gamble, so if he’s going to gamble either way, I wouldn’t feel too bad that he does it at my home game. But I’d definitely say something if he is your friend and respects your opinion.

If one of my friends isn’t in a position to be chunking off, and says they’re gonna retire for a while to a group chat, I’ll say something supportive. To me that sounds like a request to be held accountable. And if they send pics of them breaking that promise to themselves, I’d shame them, from a place of empathy, but shame them nonetheless in that group chat. “Dude…thought you were gonna chill on gaming for a bit. Wtf. Everything cool? You need to talk to someone?”
 
I don’t know how big your game is but it may serve as a spot where he can whet his gambling taste but not break the bank. Although usually those people are hooked on the thrill of losing.
Just be careful with this, that's how regular people think but not most addicts. If its compulsory there's no satiating. Its like saying invite an alcoholic over for a beer to get the need out of their system, its the rush/escape they chase.
 
unfortunately, addiction doesn't yield to bleeding hearts or logic.

I think you should encourage professional help and explain that due to your concern its in everyone's best interest for him to discontinue playing in your game.

You might also reach out to a GA org and try to find local resources and ask how you can best assist.
 
Lots of good advice here. Many people that need help don’t accept it when lightly suggested / offered. Remain compassionate but be firm.

I’d have a private heart to heart and if the conversation is going well firmly suggest he allow me to call a hotline with him. Would try to find a family member or best friend to be aware so they can provide extra support on the back end.

https://www.ncpgambling.org/help-treatment/national-helpline-1-800-522-4700/
 
I really appreciate the advice given out here. We've probably all met our fair share of gambling addicts and it's depressing to watch them, to be honest.

I'll talk about playing with addicts in a home game. I don't enjoy playing with them. You feel bad when they lose because you know they probably need the money. And I hate feeling sad when I win.

Especially in a home game, it's supposed to be a fun night. Relaxing. Full of banter. You can't possibly crack a bad joke after a cooler when the guy next to you looks like he lost his soul.

If I were playing in a game with an addict I'd probably reconsider going back. Please try to have a chat with him.
 
I really appreciate the advice given out here. We've probably all met our fair share of gambling addicts and it's depressing to watch them, to be honest.

I'll talk about playing with addicts in a home game. I don't enjoy playing with them. You feel bad when they lose because you know they probably need the money. And I hate feeling sad when I win.

Especially in a home game, it's supposed to be a fun night. Relaxing. Full of banter. You can't possibly crack a bad joke after a cooler when the guy next to you looks like he lost his soul.

If I were playing in a game with an addict I'd probably reconsider going back. Please try to have a chat with him.
Yeah I was thinking about that myself. It’s another reason why I like keeping home game stakes low. I realize it’s totally relative - losing a grand could cripple one guy and not be noticeable by another - but it just feels comfortable to me if nobody’s losing more than a few hundred dollars in a night.

And yeah, I’d try to have a one on one conversation with this guy. I mean that seems like the right advice. Personally I wouldn’t do that unless the guy was a really close friend. But if you want to do something, I think it’s either that and/or ghosting him from the game.
 
I have a guy like that and I think I’m going to cut him off - I don’t want his wife or kids asking me how I let him keep going and losing money to us when he had lost whatever amount in total gambling etc. What am I going to say, I didn’t realize it when actually I probably did? If you’ve been around long enough you’ve met some problem gamblers and there’s absolutely nothing you can do to speed up the process towards recovery, it’s best to just keep yourself and your friends out of the drama. I guess people make millions off Andy Beal and don’t worry about it but unless you can stomach robbing the guy even though he’s letting you, I’d find a way to boot him.

Once I did tell a guy who needed time to pay me something like, “Look, you’re a terrible poker player. If you don’t learn to win or quit, I’m going to keep taking your money because I’m a much better player than you.” It wasn’t my game so I couldn’t force him to stop but he did get better and is a winning player in this game. Maybe that’s also something you could do.
 
Yeah I was thinking about that myself. It’s another reason why I like keeping home game stakes low. I realize it’s totally relative - losing a grand could cripple one guy and not be noticeable by another - but it just feels comfortable to me if nobody’s losing more than a few hundred dollars in a night.

And yeah, I’d try to have a one on one conversation with this guy. I mean that seems like the right advice. Personally I wouldn’t do that unless the guy was a really close friend. But if you want to do something, I think it’s either that and/or ghosting him from the game.
Everyone's comfort is different. Few hundred bucks isn't manageable for some folks either. It's always a fine line between treating someone like an adult, and making sure another human doesn't put themselves in trouble deep enough to be over their head.

Our worst player in our online game lost his job a year or so ago. I asked him if he needed to take a break from the game and he said no. I recommended some poker books.

He got a new job in about 8 weeks and still sucks balls at poker. 4 bullets in our 7 player turbo tourney last night, last place.
 
Yeah I was thinking about that myself. It’s another reason why I like keeping home game stakes low. I realize it’s totally relative - losing a grand could cripple one guy and not be noticeable by another - but it just feels comfortable to me if nobody’s losing more than a few hundred dollars in a night.
Agreed. I really like bar tab stakes (you should really see my tabs when I hit the tiles).
 
I would say this home game is over for him. It is no longer a fun, social night out. He is an addict, in trouble, and you are potentially feeding his addiction. You're also opening yourself up to some legal liability (for all the wrong reasons). Could you be the target of a lawsuit claiming facilitation of his gambling in order to maximize winnings at his expense, knowing he is an addict? Could someone close to him decide to bust your game or make up some story to the local authorities to get it raided?
 
Just tell him privately you are concerned about the amount of money he has been losing and from now on the hard stop will be the cash he has in his pocket.

Then tell the rest of your players the same concerns and tell them to stop loaning this player money at the table.
 
Thanks everyone for the very helpful feedback and advice. Very much appreciated.

Nobody in our group wants to take advantage of someone who clearly needs help - it's frankly not fun winning pots off him anymore to be honest. We just want to see him get help, if he's willing to do that.

We're going to stop inviting the player in question to our games effective immediately and, while he may not be a good friend, me and the other main host will have a sit down with him and explain why. There's a gambling addiction service here that provides free help and resources that we'll strongly urge he check out. If there's anything we can do to support that, we will.
 
A low stakes unraked home poker game is probably the least -EV place to gamble, so if he’s going to gamble either way, I wouldn’t feel too bad that he does it at my home game. But I’d definitely say something if he is your friend and respects your opinion.

If one of my friends isn’t in a position to be chunking off, and says they’re gonna retire for a while to a group chat, I’ll say something supportive. To me that sounds like a request to be held accountable. And if they send pics of them breaking that promise to themselves, I’d shame them, from a place of empathy, but shame them nonetheless in that group chat. “Dude…thought you were gonna chill on gaming for a bit. Wtf. Everything cool? You need to talk to someone?”
I wouldn’t necessarily consider a $200 game for an unemployed addict “low stakes”
 
So @cpac54 , how did this situation work out?

Most guys that play in my home game have been playing with us for years. There is not one of them that I would not feel comfortable discussing a perceived gambling problem with. I care enough about the guys at my game that I would want to help them get help, not just not invite them to our game. Addiction is a tough thing, it's complicated. I would feel in no way qualified to try and help him "solve" his issue, but would want to try and help guide them to resources that could help him.
 
So @cpac54 , how did this situation work out?

Most guys that play in my home game have been playing with us for years. There is not one of them that I would not feel comfortable discussing a perceived gambling problem with. I care enough about the guys at my game that I would want to help them get help, not just not invite them to our game. Addiction is a tough thing, it's complicated. I would feel in no way qualified to try and help him "solve" his issue, but would want to try and help guide them to resources that could help him.
See above: https://www.pokerchipforum.com/thre...game-w-gambling-addiction.98447/#post-2039165

To elaborate, we banned him. He took it well, but only because he thought we were concerned with him being out of work. I made it clear it was because, in our view, he had a clear gambling addiction. He took that less well and blocked me in our group chat. Oh well.

In the time since, he's found work and a girlfriend and has been posting far less about playing poker/gambling online. Whether that means he's stopped playing, I can't say. To my knowledge, he hasn't sought help.

As it happens, he recently unblocked me in the chat and just this past weekend asked if he could join our games again after the summer.

I haven't discussed it with the other hosts or players yet, but personally, I'm not inclined to invite him back. I do hope he's able to overcome his addiction however. I'm personally not close with him, but there are a couple of players who at least message with him semi-regularly and I would suggest they're best positioned to see where he's at and try to support him in any efforts to help with his addiction. That's assuming 1) he recognizes the problem and 2) wants to do something about it, of course.
 
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