I have managed to control my addiction to gambling in the stock market for almost 3 years, but I have never stopped being an addict. I guess that it must be like being addicted to alcohol or any other drug. You control the urge, but the urge never goes away.
Since early childhood I always wanted to be a millionaire. My father was a millionaire before he lost it all. He gambled his life and lost but he was so alive while he was going through his ups and downs.
I wanted to make my millions the scripted way, by getting a diploma, getting a high paying job and accumulating wealth until retirement. Latter I found out that working for someone else is the dumbest way to become a millionaire; you will always be someone else’s puppet. Whether you are the CEO of a company or the president of a developed country, you will always be kissing someone else’s butt in exchange for your millions.
Another impediment was that I was a terrible student. To this day, I still resent my university education. I consider university to be a big scam that robs your money, your time and your creativity. According to Seth Godin, the number one purpose of schools is obedience. Do as you are told! We are training you to be a robot, a factory worker, nothing more that a cog in a wheel to work in a repetitive motion environment all day long 40 hours per week. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sXpbONjV1Jc
While in Montreal, I decided to invest in mutual funds (today, I hate mutual funds). I read hundreds of prospectus, had many passionate conversations about the best mutual fund to pick and I finally picked some Canadian Index fund. From my under-the-table jobs ( I did not have a working permit when I arrived to Canada) I managed to save $50 per month and I would rush to deposit my cash in the bank as soon as I could. It was at that time in history when all the mutual funds were going up, so I was already considering myself a genius for making that first investment.
When I had saved $5,000 I sold my mutual funds and I decided to invest directly in stocks. Once again, I started reading all kinds of financial newspapers, watching financial tv shows, and immediately I became obsessed with the stock market. I started to make some low risk investments (buying and holding banks and collecting dividends), but it got boring fast. I wanted to invest in the latest fast-moving Internet companies, the latest oil discoveries, gold, silver, the dollar, the yen… I wanted it all and I could not satisfy my thirst.
I was cursed with beginner’s luck. My first few trades were successful and I was hooked for the rest of my life. I would wake up at 5:00 am to see how the market closed in Asia, then I would follow the market in Europe until the opening time in New York at 9:30 am. I would make my first trade and make my money within the first half hour or agonized for the rest of the day over my losses. I would gamble $30K to $50K every morning.
I was clueless and I relied on my good luck while portraying myself as a person who knew what was going on. The adrenaline rush would come to my head as soon as I would hit that “buy” (or sell) button and I would faithfully watch tick by tick as I was making money or I losing it all.
I would try to keep my emotions under control. I would try not to bore my wife to death when telling her that we made one thousand dollars in half an hour and I’d try to mask my sorrows the next day when I’d lose the same thousand dollars in another trade.
In general, I was barely breaking even, perhaps losing over a long period, but there were some remarkable successes that I remember with pleasure. One time, the “Breaking News” anchor man announced that XYZ company just discovered a massive amount of oil in Argentina… a few seconds later I had bought about $30000 of shares. I made about $6000 profit in about 2 hours of gambling, 20% return in two hours. That day I smoked a big Cuban cigar (a Cohiba ) and was high for the rest of the day. I had other spectacular gambles that allowed me to get out of the business with a profit.
One day, I felt that my head was going to explode. I could not enjoy myself in my personal life. My heart and soul belonged completely to the market. I wasn’t able to enjoy a holiday or a weekend with my wife or friends, I wanted to be in front of the screen, gambling 24/7. I wanted to liberate myself but I didn’t know how. It came to this: I was having a miserable day, I was losing big. Out of frustration I sold everything, the winners and the losers, everything. I took whatever cash was left over and I rushed to buy a condo in Le Plateau so that I wouldn’t have any money to go back to the market. It worked; I have been out of the market for almost three years now. But I have never stopped missing it.
To this date, my desire to trade has never gone away. I learned how to control it, but the urge is still there.