A man has revealed how a £2 bet led to him putting a 'life or death' £58,000 wager on one horse.
Patrick Foster bravely opened up to LADbible about his gambling addiction, and how it had catastrophic consequences on his career and family life.
It all started in 2006 when the sports fanatic went to study at Durham University, while also playing cricket professionally full time.
"Life was pretty perfect," he said.
But things changed on one fateful day when he joined some of his peers on a trip to a betting shop.
"I had £2 in my pocket leftover from the night before and being the overconfident, arrogant, slightly naive 19-year-old boy that I was at the time, I put my two quid in the machine," he said.
Although he wasn't hopeful, just moments later '£2 became £72' and his 'life changed forever'.
Patrick said he felt a 'rush and a buzz', adding: "People talk about drugs and that was definitely my drug."
As a result of this one moment, Patrick's life completely spiralled out of control in the following years.
Initially, his gambling habit didn't pose too much of an issue as he had a fair bit of spare cash from his cricket.
But in 2007, his cricket career ended and he understandably found it hard. In a way, gambling replaced the sport in terms of the time and effort he put into it.
"And then when I moved to London, it was a huge turning point," he said, adding, "I was previously motivated very much by sort of success and achievement, and now I was only bothered about money."
Although he was still chasing his addiction, Patrick managed to receive a promotion in his finance job and to celebrate, he decided to place his biggest bet so far.
He put £500 into a football accumulator wager and surprisingly he won, earning £34,968. Although Patrick said the win made him feel 'invincible', it was also the moment gambling became 'like a drug'.
"I wanted that every time I did it," he said.
Within weeks, the jackpot had been spent on new bets, only these ones didn't win - and it was at this point his habit got him into debt.
With the shame and embarrassment he felt at getting into this situation, Patrick turned to drugs and alcohol to deal with his emotions.
He eventually took out bank and payday loans, maxed out credit cards and missed payments on his rent as his gambling addiction took over, and the situation only worsened when he started placing bets on his phone as he had access to it for most of the day.
At this point, Patrick had taken on a new job as a teacher in a private school.
"Eventually out of desperation, I'd make decisions at work that I regret forever because I would start to abuse my position as a teacher," he explained.
He began borrowing sums of money from various parents of his pupils, alongside the £500,000 pure gambling debt he was already in.
The school was alerted to the situation and Patrick was well aware of the consequences he was set to face.
In a bid of desperation, he borrowed a further £10,000 from an acquaintance in the belief he could turn it into half a million quid.
"I had one bit of luck that will never ever happen again, when one jockey and trainer won pretty much every race," he said. "And the £10,000 that I had started with was suddenly £58,000."
Rather than take the winnings, he decided to place it all on one bet on one horse in the Cheltenham Gold Cup in March 2018.
If it won, although Patrick would lose his house and job, at least he could pay everyone back and start afresh.
"But if it didn't win, it had literally become a matter of life and death, and I was going to kill myself," he said.
"I watched the horse lose by a few lengths and my whole world came crashing down."
Patrick felt he had no way out of the situation and tried to end his life. Thankfully he's still here to tell the tale and at his rock bottom, he decided to reach out to his brother for help before coming clean to his loved ones.
Rather than judge him, Patrick's family offered him support and he was referred to a rehab.
Although it's been a tough road, he's been able to address the addiction for what it is and is able to manage it. And he now works for an organisation that specialises in education and prevention.
Thankfully, Patrick was able to turn his life around and use his experience to help others.
You can find help for problem gambling here or call the National Gambling Helpline on 0808 8020 133.
You can find local drug treatment services here or call the Frank drugs helpline on 0300 123 6600.
You can find local alcohol support services here or call Drinkline helpline on 0300 123 1110 (weekdays 9am to 8pm, weekends 11am to 4pm).Featured Image Credit: LADbible TV