The Gambler and other gambling quotes


In an effort to overcome my weaknesses, I started investigating the subject of gambling and came across a quotation that strongly resonates with my experience. It is from ‘The Gambler’ (by Fyodor Dostoevsky), a book I read a while ago but didn’t learn from.  

‘At that point I ought to have gone away, but a strange sensation rose up in me, a sort of defiance of fate, a desire to challenge it, to put out my tongue at it. I laid down the largest stake allowed – four thousand gulden – and lost it. Then, getting hot, I pulled out all I had left, staked it on the same number, and lost again, after which I walked away from the table as though I were stunned. I could not even grasp what had happened to me.’   

Some more insightful and entertaining quotes on gambling: 

If you must play, decide upon three things at the start: the rules of the game, the stakes, and the quitting time – Chinese Proverb 

A gambler with a system must be, to a greater or lesser extent, insane – George Augustus Sala (1828-95)  

Depend on the rabbit’s foot if you will, but remember it didn’t work for the rabbit – R.E. Shay 

It is the mark of an inexperienced man not to believe in luck – Joseph Conrad  

Luck never gives; it only lends – Swedish Proverb 

When we put 50 machines in, I consider them 50 more mousetraps. You have to have a mousetrap to catch a mouse – Bob Stupak, former Las Vegas casino owner  

If you ain’t just a little scared when you enter a casino, you are either very rich or you haven’t studied the games enough – VP Pappy 

In a bet there is a fool and a thief – Proverb  The house doesn’t beat the player. It just gives him the opportunity to beat himself – Nick Dandalos 

By gaming we lose both our time and treasure – two things most precious to the life of man – Owen Felltham 

Lottery: A tax on people who are bad at math – Author Unknown 

There is but one good throw upon the dice, which is, to throw them away – Author Unknown 

When I played pool I was like a good psychiatrist. I cured ’em of all their daydreams and delusions – Minnesota Fats  


7 responses to “The Gambler and other gambling quotes

  1. The Minnesota Fats quote is superb. I know a gambling type trader who thought he could outfox the market. Magically. By just wanting it. You could say the market was his psychiatrist, and he is laboring much less under that delusion, but it is still a major gremlin for him.

    My ‘armor of rationality’ is nourished by others, especially by my husband, who is more rational than he is not! A problem with addicts, regardless of their addiction, is that they are most comfortable with people who allow and/or encourage their addiction. Be choosey with whom you hang out, including on the net. If you are surrounded by rationality, your gremlins will of course most likely kick up a fuss, just keep hanging out with the rational ones and shining the light on your gremlins. Your armor of rationality will become stronger and stronger.

    Addictive thinking is irrational. Rational people when exposed to irrational addictive thinking are just totally perplexed. Someday you will also be perplexed by addictive irrationality. It is actually much easier to be rational! However, you do recognize that you are at present in a vicious circle. The breaking of the vicious circle happens through time, with the gradual replacing with a virtuous one.

    Other good aspects of your understanding of your condition is that you need to cut down on caffeine gradually and to eat more nourishing food. Gradual is the way to go. Stick that word on your computer. GRADUAL. Another one is your recognition of lack of attention span. No way can you learn trading if that is the case. Continue to focus on aiding yourself in this regard. My suggestion is to take trades that are clear and simple. Otherwise watch the market instead, read blogs, give feedback to others, and most importantly, continue to be honest with yourself and others via this online journal.

    Though you decided to keep on trading until April (if I remember correctly), you can take frequent short breaks, like a morning or an afternoon off, here and there. If your neighborhood is safe for walking, then walk as exercise. Ugly from Ugly Chart walks MILES sometimes to get himself back on center!

  2. Thanks Michelle, your comments have really made me think and appreciate that the cause is not completely lost. I have incorporated a lot of your advice in to a road map that now sits above my computer.
    I would like this to be the beginning of a virtuous circle.

  3. Also, I have just added the word ‘gradual’ to my road map, leading out of the words ‘patience and discipline’. Thanks.

  4. would you consider a person who counts cards a gambler? personally, i wouldn’t…what separates a gambler from a card counter is knowing the odds, and money management!

    i know two professional gamblers…one is a pool player who died recently, and the other made his money at the dog tracks…believe it or not, the guy at the track has done it consistently since i have known him (15 years)

  5. Hi John, I think we share the same outlook on gambling. I consider games of pure chance such as playing dice or the lottery, to be gambling in the strict sense, as there is no room for the application of skill, but everyone has there own opinion. I’ve heard of horse punters who also have betting on the races down to a fine art and who are consistent winners, but I don’t know anyone who does this personally.

    However, for the purposes of my discussion on the addiction to gambling, it is less about the act itself and more about the emotional and psychological state I enter when the addiction takes over. It’s very much as described by Fyodor in the quote above; something switches internally, and you become an extreme risk taker, challenging fate head on, perhaps even with the subconscious knowledge that it is all going to end badly. In these situations I have no edge, only want and desperation.

  6. i agree…i once traded exactly like you did…maybe not the same techniquies, but i definitely displayed the same syptoms…i was getting an adrenaline rush (similar to someone with an addiction) from my trading…one time in particlar, i was at work and couldn’t stop trading…it actually was intefering with my job…a couple of really bad trades, and i was cured for the moment of my ability to trade…i was fortunate enough to have my job to pay the bills…i focused on learning a simple trading technique (dummy setups)…after trading that exclusively, my account was built back up…i have not exhibited those feelings or actions associated with the addictive gambling personality for a very long time…i no longer get a rush from winning/losing

    my main point is that the two “professional gamblers” i know, treat it as a businesss (for lack of a better word)…they do it to make a living, not for the rush…i would imagine they went through a similar process to stay in their game also

    your blog is on the top of my list, and will remain there…i have found it to be quite interesting…gl

  7. John, thanks for the compliments.

    Trading really can crowd out other aspect of your life. This also happended to me and it’s not nice. That said, it’s a beacon of hope that several readers have responded with similar comments to yourself regarding how they have succumbed to this gambler’s downfall, and yet they (and you) have turned things around and managed to stage a recovery. More importantly, you have you seem to have rewired your whole trading personality…it can be done! I am realistic on my odds of success (low) but that others have succeeded lends a little some hope to my quest.

    Also, I think it could really help if I take a more business minded approach (but not business-minded like an Enron executive!).

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