Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Greed Kills -- News Report

Teacher in $130,000 debt over World Cup bets


HE was thrilled when Germany beat Australia 4-0 in the Group Stage match at the World Cup last month.

In just under two hours, the first-time bettor made $6,000 - the equivalent of two months' salary for the secondary school teacher.

But by the time Brazil suffered a quarter-final defeat by Holland, John's thrill had turned into shock and fear.

He had chalked up nearly $130,000 losses in bets with three different illegal bookmakers.

The only way for him to pay off his debts was to sell his car.

He started with "small bets between $2,000 and $4,000" for the first two matches, but upped the stakes to as high as $10,000 for each bet.

At his request, we are not using his real name as he risks losing his job.

In the hour-long interview with The New Paper on Sunday earlier this week, John, 28, who has been teaching for two years, pleaded repeatedly: "Please, please don't name the school too.

"I can't afford to lose my job now - my future will be gone."
While he has "deeply regretted" his folly, he admitted: "I realise it's too late."

He added: "I was blinded by greed."

Only his girlfriend, a 26-year-old primary school teacher, knows about his debts.

John said: "I've already let my parents down - I can't hurt them further."

It was his cousin who had introduced him to football betting, he claimed.

John follows the English Premier League and the European Championships.

But he had never placed any bets on the matches, even legally, until last month, when his cousin bragged about how much money he had made in the World Cup four years ago.

John said: "I was tempted, especially since my girlfriend and I were planning to get married next year. My cousin said it was a golden chance for me to make extra cash."

He added: "If not for him, I wouldn't be in this mess."


For the final sentence, the blame was put on his cousin. No one forced him at gunpoint to place his bets.
In my opinion, it was greed, temptation of quick cash, that lured him to his "doom".

Lessons to be learned:
  1. Just because someone said it is easy to earn the money does not necessarily mean it is easy for you too. Different people have different luck, different skillsets, different analysis, etc... you get what I mean.
  2. Do not risk money that you need. In this case, the money was needed for his marriage next year. What's the point of risking it at betting? What's more 2~3 months worth at one bet? It could go either way, and fortunately or unfortunately for him, it went the wrong way.

This, is truly the dangers of gambling. Unlike trading, where one can limit one's loss by cutting it when surprises happen, in the case of football betting, you can never cut your loss when surprises spring themselves upon you.

Suppose he has $40k to spare, on hindsight, I think it would have been a better idea to dump all into SPH at $4 (10 lots) and perhaps lose some of the principal to market volatility than to lose all at football betting. At least if he does not want to withdraw the amount left in SPH, he will still get a cool annual $2.5k dividends,

Fortunately for this guy, he's still young, has a stable job. $130k debt can still be cleared with his salary. This lesson did not come cheap to him. I hope he will bounce back even stronger than before.

May the force be with him.


  1. Me too. Nearly killed by greed but still manage to wake up in time.

  2. Hi cw8888,

    I was fortunate that greed only took a small portion from me (in stocks) because I didn't have sufficient cash back then :)

  3. I do not gamble usually but once in a while I would buy some Big Sweep tickets or bet $1 on 4D just for fun. Over the years, I have won more than I have lost, keeping my bets small all the time. :)


  4. we all gamble on the stock market.

  5. In the stock market, some gamble, some speculate, and the rest invest. It is your choice to gamble, to speculate or invest.

  6. Hi AK71,

    at least that's not twice your monthly income at one go! :)

  7. Hi Drizzt,

    my point is, in stock market, you still get a chance to cut loss most of the times. You get to turn probability to your side as well when you do it proper.

    Not betting. Bets made at the point of time has it's probability against you most of the time.

  8. Hi cw8888,

    that's very true. And it's a matter of perspective as well. Different pple view trading, investing and gambling in different lights :)

  9. gamble in sg pool is 99% LOSE. because the maths explains it. its a fact. no luck is involve. its all probability . haha

  10. Hi K,

    you are right. The same goes for casinos.
    In fact, casinos employ people with masters in statistics to help them earn via probability!

  11. K,

    Probability doesn't explain why my future father-in-law can win 4D almost every month for the past few years.

    I disagree that luck has nothing to do with probability. Your faith in the 'science' of chance is scary, haha :) The probability might be low but if I'm lucky, I can beat all odds and still win.

    Probability is a good predictor only when you there are many many people betting on your game. But if you're the person betting on the other people's game, you have one chance to do it and the probability doesn't really matter. Law of average, so they say.


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