From the soul life of a player
Not only does gambling, especially professional gambling, in principle presuppose a certain world view, it also entails certain consequences for daily life. I have drawn attention to the motives for gambling and the dangers of gambling elsewhere (chapter “Gambling Addiction”, for example). But the peculiarities, the sensitivities, the misjudgements, the time management that one is exposed to every day as a professional gambler and how one (more precisely: I) try to deal with it, I would like to try to convey to you at this point.
You will have to tolerate the fact that part of it is frustration management and that I have chosen my private “shrink”, namely you, and forgive me. Perhaps, as is so often the case, understanding will help?
1) The lack of understanding
In the chapter “My Outing as a Professional Player” you can also read about how you sometimes feel as a professional player. You do a job, maybe even a good job, and you are guaranteed no recognition. The form of recognition you have to settle for is money. The assessment of acquaintance and kinship remains in principle obscure but certainly sceptical. My father, for example, never actually wanted to know what I was doing or how I was doing it until shortly before he died. My mother took the knowledge with her to the grave that I was heavily in debt. When she asked how things went at the weekend and I gave her the answer, “Yes, quite well, I won about DM 15,000,” the next question promptly came, “And how much did you lose?” With a mother, one perhaps occasionally exercises a little more forbearance and still replies, with some patience: “A result of 15000 DM means: payout minus stake, it is the final result. The losses are included in the figure.” But basically you can already feel that it doesn’t help. I guess I’ve lost, I have to come to terms with it. It’s a law.
So the reason why I have always paid my rent so far after all can have about six possible reasons in people’s understanding:
- the man has made at least one big inheritance
- the man is a very lucky man
- the man is a (quite clever) pickpocket
- the man does shady business
- the man has married a rich woman
- the man has an (illegal) betting office and does not want to admit it. Because you can win with that, but not with betting (more about this in the chapter “My betting shop”).
Other, almost daily, incidents can look like this. “So, what do you do for a living?” “Well, it’s a bit hard to understand, but I’m a professional gambler.” Answer: “And you can live on that?” What does that leave you with? Should I answer “yes” or “no” now? Others may try to hide their scepticism a little and say, “Sounds interesting.” But in reality no one believes it, and I don’t tolerate any contradiction.
From people who are well-disposed towards me but still lack understanding, I often hear the question: “What are you typing today?” or: “What does your computer say about the outcome of the game?”. That certainly shows friendly effort. But if I could answer correctly just once… I’ll give you the answer that is actually due here:
“My computer does not make predictions in the sense of who will win. It does much less than that. It makes probability estimates. A probability estimate leaves every outcome open. When I place a bet on the game, I am expressing the following assessment: the probability of occurrence is favourably related to the odds. My computer says the fair odds in the Asian handicap with -0.25 are 1.85, I get 1.96, so I play Hanover. Also, I played the game over 2.75 goals. This means that if I score 3 goals in total, I win half of the stake times the odds, if I score 4 goals or more, I win the entire stake times the odds. But I will certainly play something else live if the opportunity arises. By the way, I’m playing Hannover because the market is reacting a bit too much to the loss of Balitsch and the result of the previous week, when they lost 0:3 in Bochum, is overrated by the market. The result was also not quite correct, because Hannover had just as many chances and were not bad at all. By the way, the odds on the over are 2.06, according to the computer 1.92 would be fair, but in addition there is the correction by the performance from the last 8 games. The correction value is +0.13 goals. So I play the over a bit more expensive. But I might also do something live if it doesn’t necessarily look like an over, or if an early goal is scored. All questions answered?”
2) Killjoys or: who do you watch a football match with?
How would you react to such an answer? Certainly not by immediately saying: “Hey, I see it the same way. Shall we watch the game together?” On the contrary. “I don’t understand what he’s saying and doing (don’t forget: you’re the benevolent one; the other person naturally thinks ‘blah blah blah, and that’s what he wants to live on? There’s this or that coming, above all Hannover is losing today, you can feel it’), but I watch the game with friends, certainly not with him.”
So if anyone ever did, watching a game with me, I guarantee they regretted it and didn’t repeat it. I really spoil everyone’s fun. The visitor wants to enjoy a beautiful scene, a missed or not missed goal chance, he gets upset about a referee’s whistle or in general, he is first for the “wrong people”. We can’t talk about that either, because he’s intimidated, and besides, what I say or wish for is still guaranteed not to happen. Moreover, you just want to watch the game with your own emotions and they are certainly different from mine. One thing is certain: once and never again.
I can only watch a game with someone from the shop. At least someone who knows what the market laws are, for what reasons you played what and preferably someone who knows in principle what bad luck is. Winning or losing any single bet also has no meaning at all. Not even if you look at a chain of 100 bets does it give any indication of whether you are playing well or not so well.
3) Normal life
Throughout my life, and I really do remember kindergarten days, I have always had the firm desire and conviction to have children one day. I wanted it so badly, it was a foregone conclusion for me. At times when we were gradually learning how it actually works, I didn’t let myself be dissuaded from the plan, I was just a little sceptical. But even then the decision was made: If it has to be like this, then fine. But only once, and very briefly, and the whole thing in the bathroom (that must have been before sexual maturity).
Of course, there was another wish I had. And it went something like this: I would like to earn my money doing the thing I enjoy most. Whether or not I had a talent for that is an open question. But what were those things? Now I have to be very careful with the order. Okay, I’ll go alphabetically: Football, games, arithmetic, computers. Funny alphabet? You have to take the 5th letter, if it’s the same, the 1st.
Now all these things have come together in a strange way. Namely in the way: I’m going to be a professional gambler, emphasis on football betting. But this “job”, despite being a perfect fit for me, has certain side effects. Especially if you want to reconcile your two life plans.
I have brought it to a total of four children and am of course, all father, all proud Reminds me every now and then of this little story: I used to think it was so silly how all parents were so overly proud of their own, of course, usually absolutely average children and let you know it at all appropriate and inappropriate occasions. This continued until I had children of my own. But it wasn’t that I changed my mind. On the contrary, I was so right: the other children really are all absolutely average.
The fact that my children, two each, are from different mothers already indicates that the path to that point, and also during it, was not entirely straightforward. You just can’t live the “normal life” with me and at my side. It is not only my thinking that is “not normal”. It’s working hours, dealing with money, the attitude to security, even raising children that I tend to look at from the “probability aspect”, which certainly sounds strange at first glance. And you won’t be the only one to spontaneously say: “Frivolous”. But I don’t necessarily want to anticipate my work “Child rearing in theory and practice”.
Just mention here that a completely normal life is not possible in this profession. Of course I would like to bring up my children as normally as possible. But thinking simply flows into all actions. And I don’t have to be ashamed of my thinking, I think. But how normal a conversation with the class teacher or the mother of a friend turns out to be is something you should rather ask them about.
In fact, most of the other professional players I know have decided against this form of normality. Often they have girlfriends, but they don’t marry and have wives and children and so on. You tend to settle into your niche and turn your back on normality in a certain way. It’s usually the topics of conversation that go in a different direction and that don’t necessarily give you pleasure all the time. In addition, the partner is often supposed to take your feelings into account because you have just lost a lot or something. This is not necessarily conducive to a normal relationship. Everything has its order and its regular course. And above all, evenings and weekends are free, evenings for the wife, weekends for the whole family. That’s why it’s worthwhile to spend a normal
of mine. Unfortunately, today weekends are less and less different from weekdays. The simple reason: there are football matches almost every day, and not only that, with the right equipment you can also watch a fair number of them live on television. There is even internet television now, which increases the offer considerably. It is the case that you already have to filter considerably.
So there are football matches every day, and you can watch them live. However, on weekdays, the games are almost exclusively played in the evening. Of course, as the term “filtering” suggests, you can skip one or two games here and there. But there are also two aspects that can prevent one from doing so: First, every game watched serves as an information update. It is not only that I try to assess the teams well, but even individual players. This has the advantage that with the frequent club changes, for example, you already have an idea, apart from the transfer fee, of what a player can do. And it’s the same with this profession: You develop preferences. There are certain players you simply “like”, consider valuable, underestimated, others where it’s the other way around. My favourite player? Definitely: Francesco Totti. Who I didn’t like: Bernd Schuster. The reason? He was too similar to me (hahaha; but it’s still true. Neither combative nor defensively usable). So, of course, watching a game feels like a duty at some point, but I don’t say “a chore”. It’s always fun.
The second aspect of why you want to watch the game is that there is always the possibility of earning money. Most of the time, when a match is on (it could be the second division match on a Monday night), you find some reason to support one team or the other. With the very tight odds on the Asian market (see also chapter “The Betting Market”), it is almost always the case that a side that the computer would suggest playing will present itself. Apart from over/under bets and the always possible (and increasingly prominent) live bets.
The weekend is different only in that the kids are home then and there is twice as much work, if not more. So a weekday is usually a “normal working day”, a weekend is two “hard working days”. But that is primarily related to the amount of work. After all, I record the matches of about 30 leagues in the computer. And almost all of them still have their main fixtures at the weekend. I also know my way around quite a few leagues reasonably well by now. Of course, these are mainly the leagues where you also get live football.
So Friday usually starts at 6 pm with the second division games. After that, the first league match is shown live (as of 10.12.08; however, the TV offer is guaranteed not to decrease due to the changes). In addition, there is often enough an English game on, which I can see through my satellite antenna and the Sky decoder.
On Sky, not only the Premier League is on, but also the divisions below it, up to and including the Conference, i.e. a total of five leagues. The Scottish Premier League on top of that. Then of course in Germany the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Bundesliga. The Austrian league is also represented in the early evening, the Spanish league later with two games in the evening hours, the Italian league (via Internet TV) meanwhile also with two live games. So on a normal Saturday (let’s just say in the high season) there are at least 7 live games. Some of them run parallel, of course.
On Sunday it is not much different. Another 7 live football matches. I certainly don’t want to complain either. But I can imagine that one or the other thought life as a professional player would be a bit easier. If you add to that the fact that data collection, general data maintenance, information gathering (reading newspapers, watching summaries) and also the not insignificant programme development devours a not inconsiderable amount of time, then at some point this life might not seem so rosy, if it ever did.
As I said, I’m not complaining. A certain search for recognition for what has been achieved, for the work itself and, what’s more, for the art of getting a “grip” on the problem in a mathematical way would do quite a bit of good here and there. But I am and remain confident, a professional optimist, so to speak.
In “normal life” one has a few precious days of holiday. These are carefully planned for and with family. “Where are you going next year?” “Us? Like every year, to Italy.” “We’re going on holiday to a farm next year.” Planning, certainty, certainty of planning? In any case, I have always lived spontaneously and have kept it that way until today. But you always wonder how it affects the children, especially sometimes when dealing with classmates or friends. Doesn’t that make them feel normal?
Nevertheless, we went on our trips every year. But mostly spontaneously, almost without planning. “How about, I have about two weeks, do you want to go tomorrow?” “Yes, fine, what do you think, kids?” The children want to go anyway. The time that lends itself to this is then usually the end of May so far. But that was at kindergarten age. At school times you have to come up with something else, at least take into account the holiday periods.
Well, even more so, however, the headline was related to the possibility at all or to the yearly division of labour. Every two years there is a big tournament, World Cup or European Championship. These are absolute “compulsory events” not only for professional players. However, this often results in a considerably higher workload for my part. The assessments for the teams (especially at World Championships) pose a not inconsiderable problem. Especially since the exotics offer few opportunities for comparison with the known teams (has also changed somewhat today; there are more comparisons in the form of friendly matches). Nevertheless, there are completely different, better opportunities for earning money, especially in these tournaments, due to the greater participation of players (bettors).
In this respect, you have to look at the even years somewhat differently. But it is also the case that in the years of the big tournaments (i.e. the even years), the regular season ends a little earlier because all the teams still want to prepare themselves in intensive training camps (FIFA regulates it that way). So there’s a longer period of time before the tournaments that I simply have to use for a holiday. But the tournaments always start at the beginning of June. The holiday periods are simply not geared to betting professionals.
But also otherwise, the summer is, admittedly, a much quieter time. However, I have been covering the Scandinavian leagues for a long time. And they play their season all year round, so mainly through the summer. In addition, the fixtures for the coming season gradually appear over the course of the summer. I then enter these fixtures into my computer. There has also been no winter break in the winter months for a long time. Not in England anyway (the English league is always busy over the Christmas holidays), but other leagues also play (almost) through. So in summary: Time off from work does not mean time off from work. And there is no such thing as real time off.
6) What you like to do is not work!
Perhaps I haven’t made the sensitivities quite so clear yet, and I’ll try to do so here now: It remains the case that I enjoy my job. How much addictive behaviour is involved can also be read in the chapter “Gambling Addiction”. There is always a certain excitement, almost daily. You might be preparing the bets, even to some extent routinely, closing them, for today. Nevertheless, you are a little bit anxious to see how the games will turn out. This feeling remains, despite all the routine. In recent years, I have also included the Japanese, Brazilian, American and Argentinian leagues, apart from the NBA, the American Basketball League. Japan plays early in the morning, the other three late in the evening until night, the NBA at night anyway. So you would have “action” almost around the clock. You could make sales, following computer recommendations or even taking intuition into account. And as justification you have at least two points: It’s my job. I have an advantage (not with every bet, of course, but one makes an effort). And: I have to make a certain turnover to earn my money (chapter “Turnover”).
Due to the night games, it frankly looks partly like this: before going to bed, I bet a few more NBA games (could have been in the afternoon, of course). My night’s rest was never really coherent and never particularly long. But when I wake up at 5 o’clock, it can happen that curiosity, restlessness, tension, gambling addiction drive me out and I want to see the results and thus of course my betting results. Sometimes there’s even a live match on (America is a big country and the West simply plays 2 or 3 hours later, with us it’s a 4 o’clock or 4:30 kick-off). Then you can stay awake and watch it, can’t you?
Maybe I forgot to mention that nowadays all the results can be found on live result services. By the way, a fellow competitor from Nordhausen found the best and fastest site: it’s a Chinese site. The proof is in the pudding. If you watch a second-division match (just as an example, extra lower division) and see a goal being scored live, you can see and hear how quickly it is displayed on which site. And with the Chinese, you can optionally switch on a ringtone of your choice, which then sounds in the event of a (worldwide) goal. And it usually rings within seconds. How they do that is a (small) mystery to me. But it works. The disadvantage is that they are so up-to-date that they often report goals immediately that are not recognised at all. So there is a certain probability of error. This is most noticeable when a team has played, a goal is reported for them, which is then taken back and subsequently the goal counts for the other team. The score is 0:1, but the score is initially 1:0.
At some point, you simply know that (enough) money is coming in. But still, almost every day you think about the question: Am I lucky today? Because one thing is certain: if you are sufficiently unlucky, even mathematics won’t help. Besides, the outcome of one day hardly depends on mathematics. On one day, on 50 bets or so, anyone can win, even the monkey who ticks something purely by chance. So the result for today is superficially dependent on luck. Just like any gambler. That makes the sensations comparable.
It gives me pleasure. I watch the games. “Do you like watching, do you enjoy it?” “Yes.” “Well, then it’s not work.” Exactly.