Alfred’s Story

Alfred was passionate at watching soccer matches, especially the English Premier League. He was a fan of Chelsea Football Club. He observed his friends getting more excited when betting on the matches. He therefore started betting too.

Initially Alfred placed bets of less than $100 and won at times. He developed perception that gambling was an easy way of making money. Later, he lost more because he perceived his betted predictions were “near misses” of the real outcomes. For instance, he betted on Correct Score all up formula 6x1 but one of the 6 matches was incorrect. Alfred was frustrated and felt that he only lacked a bit of luck. He also perceived that “he nearly won” meant he had good gambling skills. Given this belief, Alfred increased his wager to over $10,000 in hope of winning more money. His frequency also multiplied as he betted not only on matches in Premier League, but also other big and small matches. Therefore, the more frustrated Alfred felt for the perceived “near miss”, the more frequent and larger wager he gambled. The bigger losses resulted. It formed a vicious cycle.


Influence of gambling myth

Alfred got hooked to gambling due to the cognition of “I nearly won last time so I would win this time”. He then placed a bigger wager to an extent he overspent his planned 2/3 of monthly salary for gambling. He failed his dream of pursuing further studies for joining disciplinary force. He also felt defeated and ambivalent that while he believed he could win big money easily, he lost much. The frustration adversely affected his confidence and work performance.


Treatment and change

Counsellor guided Alfred to be aware of the cognitive distortion, which led him to spend a lot of time in collecting and analysing gambling information, as well as increasing wager for the over-confidence of “sure win next time”. Actually the development of “near miss last time would bring a sure win this time” was related to a misconception of linkages among bets. In fact, there was no linkage between any bets. Each bet was an individual event with random outcomes. There were no special skill or analytical method to predict the outcomes. As he reflected on his experience of losing more than winning, he was encouraged to shift focus from the destructive gambling, to constructive career planning and life rebuilding. With counsellor’s encouragement, Alfred pursued vocational training on painting offered by Construction Industry Council.