Book of the week: One man's spread-betting nightmare

Book review: Win. Lose. RepeatChris Stringman's tale is a warning to all those who regard spread betting as a fast-track route to riches.


Win. Lose. Repeat:My Life as a Gambler, from Coin-Pushers to Financial Spread Bettingby Chris StringmanPublished by Ortus, £11.99(Buy at Amazon)

Spread betting can be a great way to play the markets, provided you know what you're doing, and are able to manage your risk properly. But for compulsive gamblers, spread betting ends up becoming one more way to ruin their lives. Chris Stringman was one of that number. His book shows how he nearly lost his house and destroyed his marriage through bets on commodities and shares. He also examines what makes problem gamblers engage in such behaviour.

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Stringman blames the spread-betting industry for peddling the myth that it is easy to make a fortune on the stockmarket with a minimum amount of effort. Worse, the companies deliberately arrange things so the punter is encouraged to run up huge debts, with the betting firm only pulling the plug once his or her debts start to threaten their bottom line. The author concludes that draconian regulation is the only solution.

Stringman's punchy, personal writing style makes an immediate impact on the reader. However, he assumes everyone suffers from his own lack of self-control, and ignores the large number of people who are able to bet responsibly. Still, anyone who thinks spread betting is an automatic path to riches might be advised to read this.

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