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 Betting

by 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.

Dr Matthew Partridge

Matthew graduated from the University of Durham in 2004; he then gained an MSc, followed by a PhD at the London School of Economics.

He has previously written for a wide range of publications, including the Guardian and the Economist, and also helped to run a newsletter on terrorism. He has spent time at Lehman Brothers, Citigroup and the consultancy Lombard Street Research.

Matthew is the author of Superinvestors: Lessons from the greatest investors in history, published by Harriman House, which has been translated into several languages. His second book, Investing Explained: The Accessible Guide to Building an Investment Portfolio, is published by Kogan Page.

As senior writer, he writes the shares and politics & economics pages, as well as weekly Blowing It and Great Frauds in History columns He also writes a fortnightly reviews page and trading tips, as well as regular cover stories and multi-page investment focus features.

Follow Matthew on Twitter: @DrMatthewPartri