Monday, January 07, 2013

On Lindgren and “Rehab”

Over the weekend BLUFF magazine posted an interview with Erick Lindgren focusing primarily on the poker player’s significant sports-betting woes. Titled “Broken: The Erick Lindgren Story,” the article by BLUFF Editor in Chief Lance Bradley relates how Lindgren recently spent two weeks in a California rehab facility “trying to work through his addiction to gambling.”

The piece describes how Lindgren, once something of a favorite among poker-TV celebs thanks both to his amiable personality and talents at the table, has seen his reputation plummet of late following reports of his multi-million dollar gambling losses and comprehensive failure to cover debts.

Reference is made to last spring’s revelations regarding the extent of Lindgren’s losses/debts, which at the time were much greater than most realized. I wrote a post then titled “Hero Call” that discusses what was being said about Lindgren while also reflecting on how his story had become yet another example of a one-time popular figure in poker proving disappointing to some.

Clearly an action junkie who cannot help himself when it comes to sports betting, Lindgren speaks in the BLUFF article of having “the degenerate gene” and thus having had a goal of “removing” it via his stay at the rehab facility. The article explains how as a member of Team Full Tilt, Lindgren received payments “upward of $250,000 per month,” all of which (it seems) was squandered via betting on sports and participation in high-stakes fantasy leagues. And then some.

When the dividends stopped coming following Black Friday, Lindgren’s ability to make payments and/or hold off creditors lessened considerably. According to Lindgren, his gambling debts total about $3 million at present, although at one time he had been more than $10 million in the hole. He is also currently in the process of filing for bankruptcy.

The mention of “rehab” and the acknowledgment of having “degenerate” tendencies perhaps suggest that Lindgren is looking for a way to stop gambling entirely, much like an alcoholic might try once and for all to give up drinking. But that is not the case, as Lindgren describes himself at the end of the piece having “been staked in poker and some sports (betting) to try and raise some money.” As Bradley puts it earlier, “Lindgren wasn’t in rehab to cure him of gambling -- that’s his day job and he knows he needs to continue to play poker and work in Las Vegas if he has any hope of paying all his debts and beginning the process of repairing his name.”

It all sounds very odd and not at all encouraging. A cynical response would be to say that the primary goal of the two-week stay -- not to mention submitting to the interview -- was to rehabilitate Lindgren’s reputation, not really to try to help him directly address his gambling addiction (and thus, by improving his reputation, improve his shot at finding backers). But even a more generous reading of Lindgren’s words and situation has to be filled with trepidation thanks to the obvious disconnect between addressing one’s gambling problem by formulating plans to figure out how to continue gambling.

Thanks to Bradley’s balanced approach, the reader is allowed to form his or her own opinions regarding Lindgren and his plight. As Lindgren’s example well proves, the poker world tends to enable such “degen” behavior, allowing those who are self-destructive to continue down the same path as long as doing so doesn’t negatively affect others too greatly. And in some cases those who write and report on poker might be said to contribute even further to the process of enabling by romanticizing wild, reckless gambling without acknowledging the damage often done. But Bradley avoids that tendency in the article, mostly letting Lindgren speak for himself and thereby allowing readers to make their own judgments regarding the poker player’s future prospects.

While I’m as hopeful as anyone that Lindgren makes good, it seems to me that most who read “Broken” and respond rationally will probably come to a similar conclusion regarding Lindgren’s proposed method of recovery.

Not to bet on it.

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Blogger NBShuffler71 said...

Makes me wonder if he ever really was a professional gambler in the first place if he couldn't control himself.

Quite how he hopes to continue (or begin) to be one after coming out of rehab for er .......gambling addiction is indeed puzzling. Add the fact that poker is far more competitive now than it was in his heyday and it seems more and more unlikely.

1/08/2013 11:06 AM  

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