I have an addiction. I’m addicted to playing free blackjack on my phone. I’ve always liked the thrill of gambling. It always excites me to put some money on something I have no control over. Whether it was convincing my dad to let me fill out a parlay card at the sports book, or playing cards with my friends, I’ve always felt the rush of gambling. Growing up in Las Vegas, I’ve always found myself with the temptation of gambling. I started gambling more regularly when I was still in high school. The World Series of Poker had just spiked in its viewership and popularity, and it felt like, “I can get a poker game any night now.” With my friends. With my family. My friend’s families. Strangers at a party. Everyone was playing Texas Hold’Em. It became huge overnight with the success of Chris Moneymaker winning the World Series. The popularity of the sport was rising, its participants increased every day and this all combined as the Internet was spreading like a wild fire, and the baby of online Texas Hold’Em was born. And it blew up.
I was a freshman at the University of Arizona when I saw someone playing online Texas Hold’Em, for real money. It didn’t take long for me to do the math, I’ve always been quick with numbers, and it wasn’t long before my bank card and my computer made sweet, sweet love to the tune of $50. It was the minimum input at the time and all I could afford. That was the real start of my gambling. Before then, the poker games, the sports bets, they were $5 hits. No big deal. “I just put $50 on the line, I gotta be smart about this,” I told myself. Not much time passed before I grew confident and noticed my skills increasing as I increased how much I played. I found a way to play, a style that suited myself, and my hours behind the computer were growing. Some nights I just didn’t go out because I wanted to play. Some days I played in class. Some days I didn’t go to class because I wanted to focus on my game. I really dove into the world. I won some free clothing and poker chips from the store for some of my success. I started recognizing the patterns of players. It was as if there were only so many possibilities, and because at this point I was playing 3 or 4 tables simultaneously, I felt like I was slowly eliminating the risk of the game. I felt I had an idea of the pattern. It was almost as if I had beaten the game. When you’ve reached the point in gambling where you feel like you figured it out, the wise to thing to do, is increase your bet. If your thought process is, I know this, you become more confident in your abilities, like anything in life. And at that moment, I was confident, so I played higher risk games, more money, and bigger payouts. I remember a day, it was the middle of some weekday, and I was in my dorm room. I’m a sophomore and I’ve got class very soon. I open up a table, I probably have about $1500-$2000 in my online poker bank. So I took about $400 and jump in a more expensive cash game. You buy in with an amount and you’re at the table until you run out or leave. So I play my style, slow and tactical, looking for the pattern. It wasn’t long before I recognized it and had my on-the-table amount to $1200. I had time for one more hand; maybe it’ll be a good one. I liked it for this table. I could use this at this table. So I do, and before I know it the cash pot is up to $2400. At that point, the idea of nearly $5,000 being in my bank scared me a bit. I hadn’t ever been close to having anywhere near that money. But I had a made hand. There’s only one card in the deck my opponent can win with, and he only has one more card coming. Sure enough, he hits the card. I solemnly walked into class. I experienced a big loss and with that loss came the idea of vengeance. I had to get it back. I perked myself up at the thought. Of course I can get it back. I didn’t get back, and after that day and losing more of the money, I took a break. That was the first sign of the online gambling pattern. I just turned 28 and from the time I was 18 until about age 25, I was sporadically gambling online. I moved back to Vegas after college. Trips to the Suncoast hotel and casino increased from time to time. I was getting my fair fixings of gambling experience.
When I purchased my first iPhone, back in 2011, I was most excited about the games. I was using a Blackberry previously, which was not the best phone for me, and the thought of having the iPhone felt like an impossibility due to our loyalty to our service provider, Verizon. But when the iPhone became available and I got my hands on one, I went immediately for the games. I’ve always loved games, I love competition, I’m sick for it. One of the first games I downloaded was BlackJack, a free version. With the game you get something like $500 whenever you want. If you blow it on one hand, you go back to the bank and get your $500 of free play money. So I tried playing just for fun, playing strategically and that didn’t last too long. It wasn’t long before I’d bet the $500 and double up my bet each time to see how high I could get. And when I lost, I’d get another free $500. It was fun for a while but that died quick, as many games do. But some time ago, the creators of the application made a little change. Instead of the free $500 prize whenever you want, now you get $200 once every 4 hours, and if you have the patience, which for this I do, you can watch advertisements for other applications, to earn more free money. Those advertisements, however, cap out, and you cannot watch anymore until the clock turns midnight and everything resets. I would wake up in the morning, collect my $200, watch some ads, send myself a text message and email for an additional $50, each, and see if I could turn the nine-hundred and change into something bigger. I developed a strategy to beat the game. I found a way to take the money that I started to play with and turn it into a lot more. Eventually, I would win so much I’d be up the hundreds of thousands. All play money, but still, from less than $1000 to start. And then I’d throw the money away betting too much and without strategy, and have to do it again the next day. However, I recently found a loophole. I deleted the application one day and re-downloaded it. I found that with the deletion of application, comes a reset of the free money, as if the clock struck midnight. However, the player keeps all of the money, if they have any, in their bank. With this knowledge, I can have chips whenever I want. It is a mind numbing pain in the ass, and rude to do when others are around, and it’s part of every day for me now. I delete and download that application maybe 20-25 times per day, playing the ads in between each download. I do this more than actually playing the game. I would like to thank the good people who created this blackjack game, as it as steadily subsided my desire to gamble with real money. After all, for me, it’s just competition, and I need it.