Lucian Freud on gambling

by on December 30, 2013 at 11:41 am in Books, Philosophy, The Arts | Permalink

Gambling is only exciting if you don’t have any money.

That is from the excellent Breakfast with Lucian: The Astounding Life and Outrageous Times of Britain’s Great Modern Painter, by Geordie Greig.

1 Vadim December 30, 2013 at 12:32 pm

Why do the wealthy gamble then?

2 F. Lynx Pardinus December 30, 2013 at 12:42 pm

“I saw him wreck a 100,000 dollar boat because he liked the splash.”

3 T. Shaw December 30, 2013 at 1:03 pm


Based on Lucian’s criteria, Russian roullette is the game. Talk about concentrating the senses . . .

If you play a bit, they give you free rooms. For about five years, I would to go to casinos, in NJ and CT, and contribute/drop specific amounts of excess cash. It’s entertainment: like going to a Broadway play.

Only once in that time, did I saw a man who was so excited (I imagine he had lost the rent money) that he was beating the heck out of the men’s room wall.

4 Maurice de Sully December 30, 2013 at 1:57 pm

They aren’t gambling. They are playing cards (or dice or wheels or whatever.)

As any “respectable” golf hustler will tell you, you’re not gambling until you’re playing for more money than you have in your pocket.

5 Norman Pfyster December 30, 2013 at 2:06 pm

I think Lee Trevino said something like that: “You don’t know what pressure is until you’ve played for $5 a hole with only $2 in your pocket.”

6 T. Shaw December 31, 2013 at 8:40 am

Heck, Trevino was a piker at 2.5-to-1.

As I commented above, it’s “leverage.”

In the multi-years’ run-up to the 2007 global debacle, the corporate and statist powers-that-be permitted markets to leverage up to 40-to-1. Was it the “bettor”/speculator or the creditor that was gambling? Did either assume they’d be bailed out?

7 Ray Lopez December 30, 2013 at 12:51 pm

I thought he died. Sure enough, he did: 20 July 2011 (aged 88)

Out with the old, in with the new! Happy New Year’s! It’s already New Year’s eve here.

8 Rahul December 30, 2013 at 12:51 pm

You can always bet large enough that effectively you have no money.

9 Rahul December 30, 2013 at 12:54 pm

……..Short Selling is only fun when naked shorting?

10 Alexei Sadeski December 30, 2013 at 3:44 pm

Short selling is never fun!

11 Enrique December 30, 2013 at 2:03 pm

Great quote, but I wonder why LF is considered such a great artist

12 Alexei Sadeski December 30, 2013 at 3:44 pm

Surely has nothing to do with the surname.

13 Michael December 30, 2013 at 5:45 pm

For what it’s worth:

In 2001 I was talking to a dealer in Las Vegas who had dealt for Bill Gates once during a CES back in the early 90s, before Gates was much of a household name but still very wealthy. Apparently he liked playing $5 tables while waiting for something. Other than that, didn’t he gamble.

14 Turkey Vulture December 30, 2013 at 8:03 pm

This is a false statement.

15 Charlie McDanger December 30, 2013 at 9:10 pm

re: Bill Gates. The story commonly told is that he was playing the smallest limit Hold ‘Em game available at the Bellagio, when Doyle Brunson sent a note out from Bobby’s Room (the glass-paneled high-stakes room) inviting him to come play $3000/$6000 limit. Gates sent back a note asking if Brunson would like to play $3b/$6b.

As to the quote, it is indefensibly at odds with all experience.

16 Tyler Fan December 30, 2013 at 9:18 pm

I agree with the sentiment. If I spend a night playing poker or blackjack and do really well, I might finish up a couple grand but that kind of money doesn’t change the life of anyone living in the developed world. And it comes at the cost of calculating hands all night instead of relaxing, having a nice meal and taking in the scenery. Gambling isn’t exciting unless you have no money or, like a Michael Jordan, you have money but are willing to wager it all.

17 Turkey Vulture December 30, 2013 at 10:24 pm

That sounds more like some people just enjoy gambling, others don’t, and that it has much more to do with their personal characteristics than their wealth.

The main thing I’d agree with is that if you do get some enjoyment out of gambling, then as your income and wealth grow, it will take larger bets to get the same enjoyment. A $10 buy-in poker game meant a lot more to me at 19 than at 29.

18 Brant December 31, 2013 at 5:46 am

Excitement only comes from those who risk, poor or not. For the poor, it’s a chance of being rich (at least for the moment). For the rich, it’s a chance at being poor again (or for those being born rich, the fantasy at being poor). For the rest, it’s entertainment.

19 Euripides December 31, 2013 at 10:48 am

Have you guys read about the gambling habits of Michael Jordan? Charles Barkeley?

20 Tony December 31, 2013 at 2:42 pm

Gambling is only exciting when you don’t understand probability and statistics.

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