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Inside the mind of London's online gamblers

Cards

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London has a rich history of gambling.

Crockfords Casino in Mayfair is the world's oldest private gaming club, first opening its doors to customers in 1828.

While a number of the games have remained the same since the 19th Century, the manner in which we can gamble has changed dramatically.

Over the last decade, the internet has revolutionised the industry and allowed us to bring casinos into our homes.

There are over 2,000 online casinos, all available at the click of the button.

Full time career

One of the most popular games is poker, and while most consider it a form of recreation, there are a small number of players who are winning huge sums of money from it.

I know that I have lost a million a few times in a (single) day, and that's disgusting... it's really a sick feeling.
Luke Schwartz

BBC Inside Out's Richard Adams spent time with two professionals, Luke Schwartz and Andrew Feldman, both of whom have made millions from playing cards on their laptops.

Luke is 25 - he drives a Bentley, wears a diamond encrusted watch and lives in a £600,000 apartment in Mill Hill, North London.

All of which are paid for by his winnings from online poker.

He started playing while at university and quickly realised he possessed the skills to turn a hobby into a full time career.

Despite his success there are a number of pitfalls to making a career from gambling online.

For starters, online gambling means it is possible to play 24 hours a day, seven days a week, as the opponents you play against come from all over the world. With huge pots on offer, knowing when to shut down the computer can be difficult.

Andrew Feldman is just 22 and another poker millionaire. He freely admits that online poker has become something of an obsession.

'Disgusting'

"I play about 80 hours a week, 10 to 12 hours a day... When playing online it's very easy to forget what day or what time of week it is, because you are kind of in a virtual world," he says.

While both Andrew and Luke are skilled poker players, GamCare, a charity that supports problem gamblers, argue that like all forms of gambling, poker does involve elements of luck.

In his 13 years with the charity, Clinical Training and Development Director Adrian Scarfe has counselled a vast number of problem gamblers. While he recognises the talents of Andrew and Luke, he does have his concerns: "You can't guarantee that you are going to play every poker hand successfully, you can't guarantee you are going to win over time... so we would say be very cautious of seeing gambling as a way of earning money."

Despite their talents, both Luke and Andrew admit to having lost vast sums of money from their online activities. Luke's losses run into millions of dollars.

"I know that I have lost a million a few times in a (single) day, and that's disgusting... it's really a sick feeling."

Clearly, becoming a professional poker player is not for the faint hearted, while the rewards are great, so too are the risks.

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