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Stock/Option "trading", I mean, gambling

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Stock/Option "trading", I mean, gambling

Postby tbone3443 » Wed Mar 06, 2013 12:07 am

It is absolutely dreadful to admit that I have been addicted to stock and option “trading" for more than 20 years. It all started in 1992 when I made my first "trade" and made $1400 buying and selling a stock that moved up quickly over the course of a week. At the time, I was in my early 20's and it felt better than sex. I supposed the addiction was in me even as a child, as I remember the strong urges to play quarter card games, and to earn enough from my paper route to bet more on these games. I have always wanted to get that feeling back that I originally got in 1992, and to get another "high" that was similar to that first one. Everytime I press the buy button with my online broker, I was essentially getting a hit, just like a heroin addict. I have realized though that this has caused me more emotional and psychological pain than I can possibly write about, as well as preventing me from ever having any real money, other than basic necessities of life and an occasionally a trip here and there. I actually do quite well in terms of my income, but if one looked at my assets, they would never know because it was all funneled into my drug dealer, Wall Street. I recently have taken much of what was to be my federal/state tax money and took a big risk in the market and lost, and I cannot tell you how remorseful I am and in disbelief that I actually did it.
I noticed that most of the people in this forum have casino/sports betting addictions. I actually used to think I was superior to "gamblers" and that I could use my knowledge to trade in an out of the stock market to make money, just as a good blackjack player always thinks they can make money. I once even quit a job, and told everyone that I was going to be a professional investor. I only had $5000 to my name! But in my warped gambling addicted mind, I thought I could make $5000/month from that, even though I had lost money every year of my life in the markets!! But it really didnt matter if I "won" or "lost", it was all about being in the action, getting a high, and betting bigger and bigger until the inevitable blow out creating massive depression in my life. I have all the same traits as any other person with a gambling addict, hence I am a gambling addict. My "trades" were all based on emotion, done mostly when I got bored and felt I needed a hit. It is a phenomenal feat, but I have lost 20 years in a row in the stock and option markets, even during times when markets were going straight up. I always thought I could beat the market, thinking I was superior to other traders. Now, Im not saying that people like Warren Buffett cant beat the market, but you simply cannot win over the long term daytrading, just like you cant win in the long term playing slots in the casinos. I was not “investing” I was simply getting a rush from a hit by pressing a buy button. So, what has it cost me? A 20 year feeling of a lack of self worth, interrupted by brief feelings of invincibility and superiority after big “wins”. It has put big strains on my marriage at times because of the lack of money. I even confessed to my wife 6 years ago that I had this problem, but the only thing I did was continue stock trading in such a way that she would never find out, and she hasnt. I have not technically “stolen” any money, but I have borrowed money from many people under the pretense that I was not doing well at work and needed help, being completely deceitful. But as soon as I got the cash from those kind enough to help me, I was buying and selling stocks again. I am soooo lucky that I have a decent job such that I have paid back all my debts, and I actually have perfect credit, but instead of being a wealthy person today, I am essentially broke. Of course sometimes I would win, but it has been the same formula every time for 20 years now. I would trade conservatively and cut losses, making money, until eventually my self confidence went up, and then bet huge with all my money, and lose it in a blowout, causing me depression and suicidal feelings. Outwardly kind to people, I was internally in panic, chaos, and hating everyone around me when I traded-I was not me. My work has suffered tremendously from this addiction, and I have actually had hours at a time where I would stare at a quote screen with my emotions on a roller coaster with every tick up or down of the stock I was in. I think today was the final straw, and I needed to write it out. I had what I think was my final blowout. I have said I would give up this terrible affliction so many times I cant count, but I really think and hope this is it. It is so comforting to read the stories on this blog to know I am not alone, and I am so happy that many of you have overcome this terrible addiction. We all can overcome it.
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Re: Stock/Option "trading", I mean, gambling

Postby tbone3443 » Wed Mar 06, 2013 5:35 pm

I think I am going through what is a type of withdrawal today. Well, the stock market is up into new highs today, and of course, I feel like I know exactly what the top of the market is going to be (which I dont of course), and I want to short the market now, and get back into the action. So, I unblocked my brokerage website (I blocked it yesterday on my computer) and tried to deposit $7000 from my bank account into my brokerage account so I could begin trading on what I "know" is going to happen, that is, the market will fall, exactly when I want it to. The $7000 is dedicated to taxes due April 15 (after I already lost about $5K in this tax account earlier). My gambling addicated mind was telling me it was obvious that I was going to be right this time, and if I can just make one more trade and get my losses back from this year, then I will stop. My goal in my mind today was wanting to make my $5K in tax money I lost back by April 15 before I file my taxes. Already this morning, I have deposited and cancelled the $7000 deposit twice, and I have barely done any real work (on my real job) all day just thinking about it. Finally, just now, I cancelled the deposit, called my broker to cancel my account altogether, and reblocked my brokerage website on my computer. This is hard, very hard but I know if I can get through this week, I am hoping it will be better.
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Re: Stock/Option "trading", I mean, gambling

Postby youneverknow » Sat Mar 09, 2013 3:12 am

Hi tbone3443,

It DOES get better. Each urge you fight and win, it gets better. I invest in stocks myself (I don't trade, I just put money in, like I would a savings account & hope for a better return than an actual savings account - maybe I'm a dreamer :-)) and I know what you mean about trading (a little bit anyway). I can see how trading could be EASILY become a gambling addiction, especially since the stock market is really just a bigger, more 'legitimate' casino.

I think you did the right thing cancelling your accounts. You mentioned shorting and I'm guessing that means you had a margin account, no? It's like they do everything in their power to get you to continue 'betting' on stock prices. But THEY are the only ones who win. It's built that way. I did some research on shorting and I gotta say, it's a scary thing. The potential 'win' is limited, but the potential 'loss' is unlimited.

I'm sure I'm not telling you anything you don't already know (you could probably teach a course, right?) but I CAN tell you the most important thing you don't know - yet. It's my first sentence of this post. IT DOES GET BETTER.

Take pride in the fact you're trying to do something about it. THAT is the first, big step and you found the courage to face it. I'll be rooting for your success in this battle. I've been clean for just over a year and I can tell you, this fight is worth it.

All the best, and thanks for sharing your story. It matters.
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Re: Stock/Option "trading", I mean, gambling

Postby tbone3443 » Sat Mar 09, 2013 6:35 pm

Thank you youneverknow, I very much appreciate the thoughts. Investing is something I wished I could do (like you) with my extra money after expenses, because I do believe in the longer term strategy of buying and holding stocks. But, the gambling addiction has caused me to think I am better than the typical investor, and so I try to trade (unsucessfully) for short term profits, and in the end always get wiped out. Really, it is just the addiction to getting the high of buying and selling which is overriding my common sense. My rational brain completely realizes that, just like a casino, this stock market game is controlled by much higher forces who make money whether stocks go up or down. I may win and someone my lose, or vice versa, but these forces ALWAYS win in the end, and they use peoples greed, fear, and gambling addictions to continue to control and win their game.

Yes, I do have a margin account, but when I short the market I actually by put options which is a highly levered way to short the market. It does have defineable risks (not unlimited risks) but one is much easier wiped out using this strategy. My broker must think I am crazy but I reopened my account after closing it a day ealier. I legitimized (in my gambling addicted mind) it by saying instead of putting $7K in, I would only put $3K in. So, $3K is now sitting in my account. This has caused me great anxiety so far this weekend, as I dont know what I am going to do on monday. Of course, part of me is saying you need to once again withdraw this amount immediately and end this forever, but part of me is saying I just need to wait for the right opportunity, make my money back, and then I can quit. $3K in the grand scheme of things, really is not alot of money, but to me, it affects my life so profoundly that it is a big deal. I am hoping I have the power to keep this under control. I have recognized the problem, but clearly have not solved it, which i know will be a process.
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Re: Stock/Option "trading", I mean, gambling

Postby genex » Sat Apr 27, 2013 2:38 pm

I am as bad as you are, perhaps worst.
I have lost the equivalent of two years of gross income just the last two years, on Apple options.
I am lucky that my partner has her money separately from me, and that my employer has a 401k where I have kept most of my retirement funds.
All of the stock market money I have ever made was buy and hold long term.
All the money I have lost was either options, or short term stock trading.
The way it has (not) worked for me, is that as my lossess mounted, I doubled my bet, as that has always almost worked in the past. This time with Apple I lost all my investment money, which was a substantial chunk.
The worst feeling comes from knowing that I will not be able to help my kids with the big things in life, such as college costs, wedding, down payment for a new house.
It is not the rush, as much as the hope that this time I will make it big.
I can't do this anymore, as I no longer have money.
My advice to you is to open a retirement account where you can not take the money out, and you can not by options. I will never not recover my massive losses, and neither will you. But twenty years from now you could look back at today as the day you stop hurting your family (like I have hurt mine).
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Re: Stock/Option "trading", I mean, gambling

Postby tbone3443 » Sun Apr 28, 2013 9:04 pm

Thanks for the post genex. It looks like we have alot of the same experiences. I can understand how one could have got sucked into the whole AAPL phenomenom as every analyst out there was saying the stock was going to $1000. I personally have finally gotten to the point where I understand 1) how destructive option trading has been in my life and to the lives of my loved ones and 2) my gambling mentality will never allow me to be a succesful option trader. I hope you are at that point too. It is painful, but we cannot change the past, only the future, and us trying to get our losses back will be even more destructive. 2 years of gross income is alot of money, but I look at my last losses as one of most positive experiences of my life, for it finally got me to end all of this, and I think if you do not trade anymore because of these big losses, in the future, you will be thankful it actually happened too. I can tell you that I have so changed my life for the better in the past couple of months and it feels great-I almost feel like a completely different person. I have moved all of my remainig money to an account where I cannot trade options, and have a diversified investment strategy now that doesnt involve "trading", only buying more assets over time. I am concentrated on preserving wealth and building assets through a business I run (that is not in this industry). There is no more trying to make it big (I have cancelled my brokerage account) to buy options. I am happier, treating everyone I know better, not feeling anxiety or the frustration I used to after making trades, Im working out more, eating better, etc, etc. I agree, I believe 20 years from now, I will look back on this time with alot of happiness that it finally stopped and I finally stopped hurting myself and my family. The alternative life is imagining myself in my early to mid 60's with no money and thinking about the life I should have had if it were not for gambling. Thanks again and the best of luck in your life, I know you will turn things around.
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Re: Stock/Option "trading", I mean, gambling

Postby bb4udid » Mon May 13, 2013 3:27 am

Thanks for your post that spoke to your own Stock Market trading addiction. Recognizing that you have a problem and can't control it on your own is the correct first step. Closing down your account is of course necessary, but you have to do it for the right reason. Let me explain.

Perhaps like you, I lost multiple fortunes in the stock market. I figure over $600,000 in total, but numbers don't matter....they are only relative. I went through bankruptcy early and could have filed again over the last few years when I had credit card debt of over $100,000....but I didn't. Like you, I had the cash flow with a good job to cover my debts, but nothing more. I started back in 1981 when broker fees were over $150 per trade and you had to go to the library to look up company history or study stock charts. I borrowed on credit, accepted family money and put it all up on margin just to trade a handful of stocks day in and day out. I hardly held anything more than 3 days, and often would buy and sell the same security 3 times a day.

I couldn't be without the action. I knew I had to be in trades overnight in order to get the morning gaps so I had heavy anxiety and sleepless nights worrying about earnings reports and news announcements. I'd watch the futures in the morning, cling to the Level II trading activity during the day and study the charts at night. Someone was making 20% on trades during the day so why couldn't I. I understood the market, both technical and fundamentals and created trading tools and models for predicting performance. At work, I'd be paralyzed the first few hours watching the market open and worrying about my trades....after all I had everything on the line, almost all the time.

Problem is, I wasn't making money, I was losing money. Seems like everything I touched went the other way. Being on margin was killing me, but it was the only way I'd ever get back to even. I lost my job when it was reported how actively I was trading. With 3 kids in college, a wife that didn't bring in much, no job and no assets I was "this close" to taking my life. That’s when things changed.....for the better. Here begins the success story.

I had heard about a recovery group called Celebrate Recovery. They offered a 12 step Christ centered program with small groups that would meet to discuss hurts and habits related to just about anything....from alcohol, drugs, sex, co-dependency, anger, and yes GAMBLING. They were different from Gamblers Anonymous in that they didn’t' try to "fix" me, but simply listen and share their own stories. Through their program I learned that a higher power, Jesus Christ, had a purpose for my life. It was to serve Him and enter into a relationship with Him. I came to understand that I had put money at the forefront of my life, and that it had all been about the "score". I had to begin putting Him first because I couldn't serve two masters. It took some time but God led me to close my accounts, take my eyes off the market completely and commit that any future investments would be just that...investments and not trades. With those commitments, he began to do miracles in my life, both financial, spiritual and within my family. He repaired my marriage, led me to successfully refinancing my house and brought me to a better job. I’ve been sober for one year now. I have stopped watching the market, have a balance budget and have begun rebuilding my assets.

If you are not a “praying man”, I’m not trying to push Jesus Christ on you. That is a decision you have to make on your own. But the fact is, I had a trading addiction and I was able to stop for the right reason. I wanted to turn my life over to a creator who promised to give me all that I need to be happy in this life if I would just put my faith in Him.

If you are looking for some next steps, here they are. Find a local chapter of Celebrate Recovery in your area and go to a meeting. They should have a group on Gambling, but if they don’t simply attend the one on Life Issues. God has asked me to share my story in order to help others who are addicted this way. I care about you and hope you get the help you need!
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Re: Stock/Option "trading", I mean, gambling

Postby setor » Thu Jul 04, 2013 9:47 pm

Hi Guys,
Really interesting to read all your stories. I am an addicted gambler as well. What I can "boast" about is that I have felt more than one gambling addiction.
I started with sports betting when I was 14-15, then moved into poker, then started Forex trading.
I while after I developed an interest for financial markets spending lots of my time. I realized that Forex was an unregulated market, i.e.: rip off and later on even got an excellent job as a stock broker in a known company.
Although I was advising people (quite successfully) on managing their stock portfolios, I was gambling every day enormous leveraged amounts on diverse financial instruments: stocks, futures, commodies, currencies, CFDs, options; day trades, longer term trades. Obviously I was loosing my salaries one after other. Typical rollercoaster with good times and bad times, always ending up with the bad times.
Each time I was loosing I was stoping... staying clean for a while and then... the same story again.

I was lucky enough to change my job to a different industry and higher pay. Less the temptation, however every once in a while I was loosing significant amounts. Just recently (March 2013) I shorted US market with a leverage I could not afford... losing everything.

Each time I analyze what I did I know it is stupid. However I have a degree from a high-ranked University and I was among the the top students. All my friends think I am extremely smart and actually.. modesty aside.. I am good at figuring out things fast, but NOBODY knows about my problem.

To say more ... in all this time I never really stopped online sportsbooking, blackjack, roulette, even slots. When I am with friends out and we see someone in the casino we know he is just losing his money.
However, I keep doing this all the time.
The only relative sane thing to do was arbitrage betting... what works in theory, but in practice you get limited in a nick of time.

During last week I gambled a lot on sports events, mainly Wimbledon, but also Blackjack, taking high risk and getting back all my loses from shorting US market a few months ago. I am reading the whole evening stories on this blog trying to force myself to close my account and withdraw all the cash and end the gambling addiction problem without an empty account. I am able to do it and will do it... NOW... but in a few weeks or months I will want to come back again... probably back to stock trading.
Long term investing will lure me into this financial casino that will lead me to gamble day trades.
Closing accounts is not a solution. I just have too many opened... both in financial markets and in all online bookies, casinos.

The more I write, I just realize the problem is more complex. I will stop and see if anyone will react to my story.
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Re: Stock/Option "trading", I mean, gambling

Postby StuckinNV » Sat Jul 06, 2013 7:05 am

Hi Setor - I guess my reaction is: I never realized stock trading could be considered a gambling addiction. Many of my colleagues are investment brokers and I work with many on a daily basis. When I was considering the option of going to GA, my sister, who went through the program told me that many of the people she met were bankers and investment brokers and I was actually really surprised. I never understood that until just this past month after reading this forum and going to meetings. Anyway, I wish you luck in kicking this addiction - I know it has been a struggle for me and when you have cash readily available, it makes it much harder. Good luck!
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Re: Stock/Option "trading", I mean, gambling

Postby tbone3443 » Sat Jul 06, 2013 7:45 pm

Sector, thanks for you post and your story is similar to mine. I think one thing that I realized is that being smart and understanding the financial markets does not mean that you are automatically going to be good at timing the markets. I also have a an advanced degree from a very good school and think sometimes I know everything there is to know about the financial markets and in particular the stock and options markets. But the urge to use huge leverage and the thrill of making huge gains always got my emotions involved and caused me in the end to make very bad mistakes. I still believe in long term investing to beat inflation, and people can do that successfully, but there are so very few people that can day trade successfully over the long term, especially in a world dominated by computer trading and centrally controlled markets. I also thought the US stock market was topping out earlier this year. I stopped trading for good on April 2 and I realize now that if I would have kept that same belief and traded on that belief, I would have ultimiately lost much more than I did, and would have probably sold my position near the top because I couldnt take the losses anymore. That, fortunately for me, never happened. I still think I am right about this, but I realize now, that I cannot "time" the market" and for me, that is futile. The markets can go far far beyond the point where anything makes sense (1.5% 10 year bonds? who would have ever thought that would happen 5 years ago?, and the people who have shorted bonds during this time have lost alot of money)

I also dabbled in sports betting and online blackjack, and really thought I could win. At my worst times, I would be trading stocks/opions during the day and as soon as the US markets closed I would be playing blackjack. For me, it was all interconnected, I was trying to get the rush from gambling money. I justified it by saying I was better than the rest and could beat the insurmountable odds (in both the financial markets and online gambling) but in the end, I couldnt and would just chase my losses forever. It took me a long time to realize that I couldnt win at online gambling, and even a longer time to realize I couldnt beat the markets (by short term trading). They fact that you are here perhaps means that you are starting to realize this. I dont want that to be an insult, Im sure you are a highly intelligent person and know the markets, but I just dont think that you can consistently beat the markets by trading, unless you are trading at a large enough level to control the markets (i.e. like a bank or hedge fund).

One of the things I did before I stopped was to really dig deep and figure out why I was gambling. Perhaps that is where you should start. For me, I realized that at the core, there was a belief that I couldnt make enough money through more traditional ways as many in my peer group. Although I do well, most of my peer group was doing much better than I, and I felt like I needed a quick way to make alot of money to "catch up" to them. I have been tying to catch up by gambling in the stock market for 20 years, and the only thing it did was make me fall farther behind them. Now (since April 2), I am only in competition with myself, and that is to create as much value to the world as possible, and I know if I do that, I will be financialy compensated as I should be. The lure to make a years salary in a week or a month by using massive leverage is very addictive, but unless you get very lucky, it is usually going to backfire.

You are here though, and you have identified a problem, and that is a first big step on your way to figuring out why you are doing this to yourself.
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