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Confessions of a Muay Thai Gambler

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[I met Mr. Fat in July 2014 in a rural part of Thailand’s Isaan region. Only 34 years old, Mr. Fat has spent the past eight years as a professional gambler in Bangkok. He has since returned to his family’s home in Isaan with his wife and newborn child. My local friend Boom, fighting out of Giatbundit Gym, introduced Mr. Fat to me as his cousin. During dinner at the family’s home, Mr. Fat spoke for hours about his life betting on fights in the capital.]

 

Let me make this clear: I didn’t start off loving Muay Thai. I loved gambling, and that’s what opened my eyes to the beauty of Muay Thai. First time I ever placed a bet was when I was a kid. A bunch of the adults in my village in Isaan were watching a soccer match on TV, and I said I wanted to bet on it. They laughed at me, but they weren’t above trying to take my money. I called it right the first time and walked away with some cash. After that, I was hooked.

 

I kept betting on soccer matches with the adults, and that’s how I learned about odds, how to research a team and make a safer bet. Then I got into gambling on Muay Thai, which is way better than soccer because it’s a faster sport. You wait minutes, instead of hours, for the final result. It was a hard world to break into. I remember my first night at Omnoi Stadium in Bangkok. I was just trying to learn the rhythm of gambling, and all the hand signals they use to communicate with each other. 

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