The Bookworm Gambler’s Digest: Double Down

Frederick Bartholome Steve Bartholome Double Down book cover

Dive in with me to the belly of the beast with Double Down: Reflections On Gambling and Loss and be astounded.

If you need a pick-me-up, put this book down. However, if you want to read something so compelling that you will turn each page with stressed impatience, this novel is the One for you. It is an account of two brother who get hooked. Through many visits to Gulf Coast river casinos, they lose the meaning of their existence, piece by piece. Frederick and Steve Barthelme show us just how bad everything can get. Although it has a dark stance, I would list this book as a must-read for every gambler out there.

• Loss of parents affected them profoundly
• Gambling losses on riverboats
• Wins and indictments

We all know that gambling (be it on mobile betting sites or luxury casinos) does not always bring us wealth and prosperity. Sometimes, you get dealt a pack of cards that resemble something more on the lines of a pile of turd. We usually shrug and say, “That’s life, it is what it is,” and we move forward. But what happens when you want to advance and get barricaded? Something like this happened to the Barthelme brothers, too. In this exciting yet gloomy story, they uncover the details of what can happen to two novelists and English teachers at the University of Southern Mississippi. They have fallen into the trap of their victories on riverboat casinos.

The death of parents and a large inheritance

It all started when Steve and Frederick’s parents died. As they recount, the family was filled with love, so the loss affected both of them extremely deeply. They described their life at home like “a lovely old-fashioned movie with snappy dialogue and surprising developments, high drama and low comedy, heroes and villains, wit and beauty and regret.” They have inherited a generous amount of money, something which made it possible for them to fall deeper and spend more. This nonfiction describes how they gambled away more than USD 300,000 over just a few years on riverboats rocking on the Gulf Coast.

Thanks to their account, we can follow events and see exactly how at first, they were like a couple of curious kids, stepping into casinos for the first time.
Things start heating up, however, when they become regulars and completely addicted to the game: “We would have been willing to win, but we were content to lose,” is the phrase they used that perfectly explains their mindset at the time. They started to believe something that I imagine many people playing on mobile casinos do: once you enter the casino, the money you gamble with becomes something like Monopoly money. A currency that is not real, so there are no problems if you lose it.

To know that you’re losing constantly and keeping at it

Double Down book cover

This paragraph paints the exact picture of their mindset at the time: “You begin to sense that,[…] something else is at work, some loopy otherworldly thing. It seems built into the cards. There comes a point when you begin to think you know the cards before they’re dealt. ” But, of course, you can’t (unless you’re a wizard.) It becomes obvious that the two siblings try to somehow fill the void left by their loving parents. To no avail whatsoever. And it gets worse: when they finally started to have some victories worth mentioning, they were accused of cheating.

A blackjack dealer with whom they often played was also accused of cheating. Making things even worse (something which nobody thought was possible,) they lost a large pile of money at another casino while they were waiting for the indictment. In the end, they were charged and became prime time characters in gambling news. Thus began a whole new level of life punishing them. The book gives a detailed account of how they managed to survive the process and actually get charges dropped. A truly engaging story that won’t make you feel better, but will make you a lot wiser.

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