Michael E.

"It took a lot for me to realize I had a problem. I started playing poker with my Pops. The minute I turned 21 I started hitting the tables. It was just more action, way more exciting than at home in front of the tv. The first thing I pawned to get cash was my Pop's watch.

I started playing poker
with my Pops. We'd just watch
football and play.

That watch used to be his Pop's. It was a real nice Swiss one and he got it in the war I think. Probably spent a fortune on it and I only got $120 bucks for it. Didn't matter though, as long as it was cash to gamble with.

"My Gramma died and I was the only one who missed the service because I was playing carDS."

I would usually win a little and lose a lot. The little wins just fueled me, kept me going for hours. I always knew that a big win was right around the corner. Never was of course, so the losses really started piling up. I started really stealing to cover my losses and after a while I couldn't even pay my bills. My Gramma died and I was the only one who missed the service because I was playing cards. I really intended to go, really wanted to, but you get lost in it. Hours go by and they seem like seconds.

I lost my apartment, then my car. Getting the bus to work was a real hassle so I was late a lot and ended up losing my job. It was that point that I really started to think I had a problem. Not before at any point though. Finally a friend offered to let me move in on one condition — I get help.

I had nothing left, nowhere else to go so I said ok and got the counseling. It was really the hardest thing I ever did. I got a new job closer to home so I know I won't be late and I'm saving for a car. I have a chance at getting promoted next year. My Pop's 75th birthday is coming up and I'm going to use some of the money I've saved to get him a new watch, a nice one like the one I took. I can finally be the son, the employee, the friend I was meant to be."

Are you at risk for a gambling problem?