In ninth grade, as an outgrowth of my fascination with sports, I learned the thrill of gambling. I learned that if you put a few dollars on a game, it immediately assumed great importance in your life. It filled you with excitement. Everything bet on became more significant. It was like you were upping the amplitude of life. You were imbuing life with meaning by betting on it.
At Placer High School, I became a bookie, taking action on as many sporting events as I could. I studied books and articles on betting.
My Journalism teacher, Robert Burge, would not let me make bets in his room. He said it was wrong to learn to take advantage of people. So I took the bets outside of the classroom.
The bets made my life more interesting. The excitement helped paper over my lack of significant relationships.
I was a winner. I was ahead of the game. At one point in my Senior year, my friend Oscar owed me several hundred dollars. Then my luck turn when Oscar figured out how to play the horses. I don’t know how he did it but I got consistently schooled. By the time I graduated high school in June 1984, I owed Oscar about $1200. I think I paid him about $150. I was leaving for Australia. He accepted the limited payback. I’d been gentle when he owed me big bucks.
The experience of losing over $1,000 in theory shook me up and I determined to not gamble again. I’ve stuck to that (except for a couple of times when people gave me money to bet, I’m fine with playing with others money, I just won’t gamble my own).
My experience with gambling also convinced me that I had an addictive personality.