Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Bust

Bust: How I Gambled and Lost a Fortune, Brought Down a Bank--and Lived to Pay for It, by Adam Resnick
$18.96 at Amazon.com ISBN: 0061341363
Adam Resnick is probably the most serious gambling addict in history. No exaggeration. This is his autobiography. I have to admit a lot of mixed feelings about this book and it's author. He wrote illegal checks for over $200 million dollars to fuel his gambling binges. It all came to a head when he had 24 hours to deposit three million dollars in an account or the bank he worked for would collapse. He raced to a nearby Indian casino where at won point he'd won over eight million, but eventually lost everything, causing bank failure and personal financial ruin and disgrace.
So why read such a terrible guy's story? Well, there are a few possible reasons. For one thing, there's so much excitement that my heart started pounding during the first chapter. For another, it's possible that Resnick's not really such a bad guy as you'd think. His disinterested parents struggled with debt their whole themselves, often dodging calls and lying to one another. It was in this unstable environment that he began his lifelong dedication to gambling, betting on sports with friends and teachers, even starting a betting pool revolving around his school's Campbell Soup label fund raiser. By the time he was in college he was cheating in virtually every area of life: stealing, writing bad checks, at one point he was thrown in the trunk of a car and threatened by an angry bookie.
Resnick is a successful businessman during all this. He operates a company that sells medical supplies, but the money is never in the bank for long, always paying a long overdue credit card bill, or else poured onto the casino gaming tables. Lying to his wife, he tells her he goes to work when in fact he's at the dog track trying to win back their next mortgage payment.
So why read Bust? As a cautionary example of just how bad things can get. As a warning against the evils of gambling and living in debt. He always has several credit cards with high balances. The stress even causes him to be hospitalized. This is why I started to feel bad for the guy. He does wrong, no one will deny, but he pays for it dearly. Plus you have to admire the courage to come clean about it all. A life of thrilling highs, terrifying lows, and finally repentance. It made me angry at times, but I'm glad I read it.

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