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Bet behind the ears
The seedy, destructive side of gambling is the subject of Declan Lynch’s new book. He talks about his nine month immersion in the world of spread bets and games of chance – and the sobering lessons he learned
Anne Sexton, 09 Jun 2009
Ever felt the urge to take your chances on the horses? How about the League of Ireland? Perhaps the golf? Declan Lynch has, and in his new book, Free Money: The Gambler's Quest, he recounts his punting experiences – the highs of winning and the crushing lows of loss.
Having spent nine months betting on a dazzling array of sports all in the name of research, is he still risking his cash chasing winners?
"I am," he admits. "I bet a fair bit less in term of money though. When I was doing the book I almost felt a moral obligation to crank it up a bit, but part of the point of the book is that you can have the same kind of buzz winning twenty quid."
The possibility of free money and the thrill of picking a winner are obvious attractions, but says Lynch, part of gambling's lure is based on false premises.
"One of the great illusions of gambling is that the more you do it, the better you get at it and in fact you're not at all, you're just starting again and again. That's one of the most attractive things about it – the illusion that you're starting with a clean slate even when you're actually considerably behind."
If you win, gambling may result in free money, but with all the calculations and worry it entails, it certainly isn't easy money.
"After all my hard work, I'm exactly where I started," laughs Lynch, "The myth of Sisyphus must have been based on punting in ancient Greece – you're constantly rolling this rock up the hill, constantly starting again. If at the end of it you've achieved anything at all, it's almost miraculous. Breaking even is a monumental achievement."
As a keen fan of sports, Lynch didn't find it to difficult to back winners – in fact he chose far more winners than losers – but even this knowledge didn't stop him losing big on a few occasions.
"There was one core philosophy that came out of it – backing winners is the easy part – the talent is somehow putting the right amount of money on the right winners. But no matter how much you think you're applying logic and reason to it, there's something just mysterious about gambling – it gets away from you like a three-card trick."