Bones Theory

“My name is Seeley” – an alternative view of Booth as gambler

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Good morning!

Recently I’ve seen theories about Booth-the-gambler in a number of places (not just Toberlove’s recent post, but elsewhere as well.)  I enjoy them – I like thinking through the different ways people view the characters and the show.

But there’s a position I’ve not seen, (which doesn’t mean it’s not out there, of course) and, well, fair’s fair, right?

First, a disclaimer or three:

Addiction is a sensitive topic for many. Statistically, there are people reading this blog who’ve been affected by addiction – either in a family member or in their own lives, and I want to be sensitive to that. Nothing I say here is intended to diminish those experiences. In fact – I’m a child of addiction.  I can say with Booth, ‘my dad drank.’ (Based on what we know of Booth’s childhood, my experiences were both better and worse than his.)  I’m also not unfamiliar with gambling addiction due to another close male family member.

And what I know from all that (plus that psych degree I’ve mentioned before) is that people aren’t round pegs to be shoved into square holes, perhaps especially in their pathologies.  As a psych student, I benefited from research on Adult Children (of Alcoholics, etc.). I figured out why I did some of the things I did, and what truly healthy alternatives were.

But I deeply resented – still do – being told that I must react a certain way because of my childhood, that I was foreordained to behave in self-destructive ways because my father was an alcoholic. It’s not that we can’t learn from looking at some of the common behaviors, but when we stop seeing people as individuals…we can do as much damage as the addiction.

Okay, enough of that…time to think about one of my favorite topics, Seeley J. Booth. What I want to do here is to consider what we really know about his gambling, as well as what we don’t know, and go from there.

The show tells us quite a bit, but leaves out a lot as well. We know that he was gambling before he met Brennan – we see him playing billiards for money right before they met.  We know that Cam knew he was gambling and called him on it – at least in the sense of letting him know she wasn’t fooled.

We see him tell Brennan he’s got a gambling problem, ‘but is dealing with it.’ We then see him make a deliberate choice not to gamble after Brennan leaves in the cab.

We don’t know how much time has passed between that point and The Soldier on the Grave because we don’t know how long they’ve been working together at the end of S1 in terms of the show. But it’s presumably well over a year, possibly closer to two, when he tells his buddy Hank that he’s been going to GA meetings.

In The Woman in the Sand, we learn that he did the Vegas strip with Frankie when they returned from the Gulf. Earlier, he’d told Brennan that his first time, he’d walked in with $35, won $10,000 and then blown it all the following night – plus wiped out his ATM trying to get it back.  We don’t know for certain that that first time he tells her about and the time with Frankie, post-war, are the same, but there’s also nothing to indicate they weren’t. So it seems possible he started gambling after returning from war.  We also learn that craps ‘was his game’ despite the billiards he was playing when he and Brennan met. He’s not limited to one game.

In The He in the She, he and Sweets make a casual bet on who’s right (Booth loses).  Neither Brennan nor Sweets comment on it in respect to his gambling.

In Fire in the Ice, he tells Albie he’s reformed.

In The Couple in the Cave, he says about an aspect of AA, that “It’s a good way to assess the, you know, damages they’ve done in their lives and make amends” which leads the woman they’re talking to to assume he’s in the program. His response is to say, “Well, I’m a gambler but I haven’t laid a bet in years — but I do miss the coffee here though.”

To the best of my memory, those are the scenes/episodes where his gambling past is addressed.

But there’s a lot we don’t see, things I’d expect to be present given some of the assumptions I see about him in respect to his gambling.

Parker would have been about three when Booth and Brennan have that first meeting, when Booth is clearly gambling. We know from several episodes that Booth and Rebecca’s relationship isn’t always smooth sailing…and yet, when she tells Brennan why she turned him down, she doesn’t mention his gambling.  It simply doesn’t appear to be a factor in how she viewed him when she refused him, or now, for that matter.  She doesn’t have stars in her eyes over him – she’s furious with him when he does the background check on her boyfriend – but she never expresses any reservations about his role as father. She views him as a good dad, and tells both Brennan and then Booth himself that.  She doesn’t qualify it in any way, doesn’t say, ‘you’ve been a marvelous father since getting your act together on the gambling front.’ And that tells me that Parker has never suffered due to Booth’s gambling.  Booth has never neglected to pick him up because he lost track of time at a game, and Rebecca doesn’t strike me as the kind of woman to call him a ‘wonderful father’ if he’d missed support payments due to gambling.

It’s just not there.

Another person who never references Booth’s past as a gambler is Jared. He’s critical of him – in a non-direct way – while trying to make himself look like the successful one to Brennan in Con Man in the Meth Lab, and he’s furious with him (justifiably so, IMO) in Dentist in the Ditch, but he never throws the gambling in his face. Not when Booth calls him on his own drinking, not over the background check Booth did on Padme.  It’s simply not an issue.  To be fair, that may not mean as much as Rebecca not referencing it because if Booth really didn’t start gambling until after the war, Jared may not have been around Booth often enough to be impacted by it.

It’s hard to tell how often they saw each other during Jared’s early years in the Navy, but perhaps it was seldom enough that Jared was unaware of what was going on, particularly since Booth probably went to some effort to hide it.  Jared seems to have a very narrow, not entirely accurate view of Booth in the first place which may have made that easier. Still, it’s odd that if he was aware of it at all that he didn’t throw it in Booth’s face at some point when angry or trying to prove he wasn’t just the little brother screw-up.  And no matter how seldom they saw one another during those years, if Jared didn’t know about it, it says something about just how big of a role gambling was playing, or wasn’t, in Booth’s life.

Most people I know who have someone in their life with an addiction are aware of it on some level. They may pretend not to be, but they’re aware of it. And Jared’s so frustrated with their roles it’s hard to imagine him not using it as a weapon if he’d known about it.

Pops doesn’t mention it, either, and I think he’s more significant in that way than Jared.  He’s not the clueless younger brother who never really got to know his protective older sibling. Pops knows him, and I don’t think either not seeing one another often nor Booth’s attempts to hide it would have mattered.

Another thing we never see is evidence that not gambling now is hard for him. In fact, apart from that night outside the pool hall after Brennan leaves in the cab, we don’t see him react to any gambling situation he encounters. I don’t think he looks particularly tempted while in the casino in Vegas, nor when Albi tries to tempt him in Fire in the Ice.

Here’s a question: how does Booth view himself? He tells Albi he’s reformed and tells Hannah he’s not a betting man, while telling Brennan, “I’m the gambler,” in agreement with Sweets.  I expect the answer varies according to what he’s talking about, but will say that I don’t think his personality is big on risk taking generally. He’s a sniper, which is, of course, a very risky job, but it involves a lot of precision and patience, not so much impulse.  And if he was generally bent towards impulsive behavior or taking risks, I don’t know that it would have taken Sweets’ prompting to get him to take the risk he does in the 100th.

Then again, perhaps one of the reasons he gambles is because he’s not normally impulsive, and sometimes just wants to let go and see what happens.

So what am I saying?  Not that his gambling past isn’t important. He may refer to himself as reformed when talking to Albi and may tell Hannah he’s not a betting man, but he agrees with Sweets in the 100th when he tells Brennan, “I’m the gambler.”  But one way mental health professionals evaluate addictive behavior is through consequences to the individual and those around them. And the obvious places we might look to see consequences from Booth’s gambling don’t show any.

That’s not unusual. My friend thevaliumsofa reminded me that 75-80% of addicts lead functional lives. In other words, they still function normally in society, to varying degrees.  There’s also a continuum of consequences. On the one end, for a gambler, we might have the homeless guy who’s gambled away everything and yet spends the few bucks he gets on lottery tickets, while on the other hand, we might have someone …who looks suspiciously like Booth, with very few outwardly obvious consequences.  My family member was in the middle somewhere. He’s in his 70’s now and has never missed a mortgage payment or any other bill…but he did miss seeing his sons grow up because he spent every weekend playing poker or going to casinos.

Booth spent, that we know of, at least two years going to GA meetings, and based on his comment to the woman in The Couple in the Cave, seems to have believed there were people in his life he needed to make amends to.  I’m not discounting those realities even while noting that we don’t know the details. Any of them. I realize the show doesn’t show us everything. It can’t. But given what we do see of his relationship with Rebecca, wouldn’t we expect her to comment on it if it had been a factor?

Another thing we don’t know is what his triggers are, if he has any. People assume he does – Brennan does, in fact, in The Woman in thee Sand, when she likens being in a casino to taking an alcoholic into a distillery.  But while there are viewers who keep expecting him to fall off the wagon, he never has. Not when his life was turned upside down by a brain tumor, not in response to Brennan’s rejection, not in response to being back in a war zone, and not in response to Hannah’s refusal of his marriage proposal.

I suspect that the one that might have come closest was the return to Afghanistan.  As noted above, the only clues we’re given to when he may have started gambling were those in Woman in the Sand, which make it seem possible his first experience was that $10K win/loss while with Frankie on the Strip when they returned from war. (Though note, we don’t know if it was leave, a reassignment, or when he separated from the army.)  Although we know even less about his war experiences time line than we do his gambling, we know he was tortured, that he tried to protect friends, and that he lost guys he cared about.

Addiction is more complicated than people tend to think.  For example, with alcoholism, there can be a genetic component – some children of alcoholics become alcoholics themselves, while others drink socially all their lives without issue (consider Booth and Jared in that sense) while at the same time it’s not hard to find alcoholics (and those addicted to other chemical substances) who don’t come from a family with a history of it.

But gambling’s chemical component has to do more with the person, with what’s going on in their brain, specifically in respect to the release of dopamine.   I don’t want to go all Brennan here (mostly because I make a really bad Brennan) but when dopamine is released, there’s an intense feeling of pleasure and satisfaction.  One of the things that’s been shown to trigger that release is rewards – we do something well, are rewarded for it, and experience pleasure at the accompanying release of dopamine.  But studies have also shown that unexpected rewards – those not on a predictable schedule – result in higher releases.

Gambling, almost by definition, is a system of unexpected rewards.  The wins never come on any schedule, there’s always an element of surprise which increases the amount of dopamine released.  Though I’ve not seen it studied, I have a theory that most serious gambling addicts had a big win very early on. They got a really big reward (Booth’s $10,000, for example) – a massive rush of dopamine and pleasure, and ever after that point, they’re trying to score that big win again, that big hit of dopamine.

The question, or one of them, is how the individual interprets that win. That fate smiled on them?  Just that they were particularly lucky that day? Or something else? In Booth’s case, I think the latter might be the answer.  As Seels said to me, “Perhaps what Booth is addicted to is being awesome or the best, in which case, he & Brennan share that.”  Winning that $10K – and every time he won after that – was a reward in the literal sense in his mind, for being very, very good at the game. No, he didn’t win the next night, in fact, he lost it all and then some. But I’ll bet he was studying the game, figuring out the angles. Learning what he needed to do to be the best, to earn that reward. And I think he did that with every game he took up.  We see him win at billiards in the 100th, and I suspect that’s norm.

It seems possible to me, then, that the reason the gambling triggered the dopamine (and thus the intense pleasure we’ll call a ‘high’) is because he likes being good at stuff. He likes being the best, likes being rewarded for that. So gambling becomes a way of guaranteeing those bursts of pleasure…right when he’s coping with the effects of war, torture, loss of comrades, and his own questions about having been a sniper.

When he meets Brennan, he’s already a special agent, and is probably very good at his job, just as being a good father is a priority.  He wouldn’t be otherwise.  The problem, though, is there’s nothing to challenge him, really, and thus the appeal of gambling, the chasing after those highs that prove another skill set.  But then Brennan does challenge him – not just professionally, to be the best at what he does because she is, but also personally.  She intrigues him and then rejects him.

So now there’s something he wants more than those bursts of pleasure/rewards he gets when he wins a game. He wants her, wants to be worthy of her.  So he stops gambling, begins to go to GA.  Does he need to, if this is all true? Yes, because there’s another component to addiction, and that’s habit.  He was in the habit of gambling and even if he wasn’t actively harming himself or anyone else (i.e., by gambling away his rent or forgetting Parker), he might well have needed help in breaking that routine.  Plus, free time and boredom are nearly always problems for recovering addicts, so having someone to call, to say to, ‘hey, let’s go grab a bite or take in a hockey game’ can be an important aspect of their recovery.

Does the fact that he stopped gambling because he wanted Brennan mean she somehow replaced it for him? I don’t think so, and here’s why: we’re all addicts in some fashion. While some are more sensitive to dopamine than others (perhaps deriving a greater sense of pleasure from it) we all feel good when it releases, and we all seek after what makes us feel good.  Most of us don’t equate love with addiction, even if we might say we ‘need’ someone.

Perhaps the clearest indication to me that he’s not addicted to her is what we see in The Boneless Bride in The River.  She asks him if she should go with Sully, and he says yes. He’s not wild about the idea, but it’s a thoughtful, sincere response that he gives her.  I’ve seen people who were addicted to relationships, and not one of them would have been able to do what he did there.

What about now? How does he view himself, and what role does the poker chip he carries and tosses on the bar at the end of Daredevil in the Mold have?  I don’t know, but I wonder if it’s to remind himself of the consequences of gambling, of taking chances. And he throws it on the bar in frustration because he’d taken a risk (a not-very-well-thought-out one) with his proposal, and had it bite him.

I re-watched The Blackout in the Blizzard the other night and was struck by something I’d not really thought about before. When they discuss making love while in the elevator, he has a besotted look on his face. He’s imagining what it would be like to make love to her, and likes the idea a great deal. But then reality intrudes and the man who said in the 100th, “I believe in giving this a chance,” and “there’s no reason we can’t” is now saying, “as a couple, me and you would never…”  He’s lost his confidence.  He’s not normally impulsive, which is why it took as long for him to approach her as it did in the 100th. But then she turned him down, and his efforts to get over her with Hannah blew up in his face. He’s not the best at anything at the moment, particularly relationships…or feeling worthy of love, perhaps.

Ah. You see, when I consider Booth, it’s not his gambling that I see tripping him up (as is probably clear from this post.) But the weight he carries from being the child of a drunk? Yeah, that causes him to stumble at times, in a variety of ways. Not as often as some think, I believe, but it’s there, and takes a toll on him – and his relationships.

So in my follow-up post, I’ll look at that, at the effects on him of being the child of an alcoholic, and the difference Brennan has made for him there.

(Note: several people commented on aspects of this, but it flat-out could not have been written without thevaliumsofa’s assistance.)

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35 thoughts on ““My name is Seeley” – an alternative view of Booth as gambler

  1. I like the idea that Booth is addicted to being the best. Maybe addicted is not the best word… but I know I’m a competitive person. I’ve only gambled a little, but I could easily see myself being drawn into gambling… wanting to spend just a little more money.

    I always felt he changed his mind about gambling when he met her because she was a new challenge. He loves challenges and being the best, and she wasn’t just a piece of cake handed to him.

    It will be interesting to see how the rest of this season plays out. 😉

  2. I had a friend come to me one day and ask me, “Do you think I am an alcoholic? I only drink on weekends and I don’t crave it when I am not drinking.” So I asked him, “what happens when you do drink?” His answer, ” when I start to drink, I can’t stop until I pass out.” I told him to check with a proffesional; but, to me, he was an alcoholic. He got the help he needed and he never drank alcohol again until the day he died. Sometimes you recognize you have an addiction, sometimes you don’t. Sometimes you need a friend to help you see if really have a problem.

    In Booth’s case, he recognized he had a gambling problem; but, didn’t feel compelled to do anything about it until he met Brennan. Even when Brennan turned him down and drove off in the taxi, Booth recognized that here was someone that change was worth making for. He could have continued gambling; but, Brennan intrigued him. He probably had plans to get closer to her during the first case and didn’t want what he considered to be character flaw to get in the way. Even when in the heat of anger they both went their seperate ways, it appears that Booth did not return to gambling. He made his plans and eventually got Brennan to work with him again. He didn’t need or want to gamble. You are right in that I don’t think Brennan was his replacement addiction. I think she was the person that helped him to give up gambling whether she knew that or not. He knew it and that was all he needed to quit.

  3. My cable was out this morning because of storms last night, so I started watching “The Finger in the Nest” for background noise while I was getting ready for work. (Not a random choice; that episode is up next in my re-watch.) Reading your post, rynogeny, I’m reminded of a scene in the beginning when B&B met with the ex-wife of the dead guy – he was a gambler. The ex said she loved him and hadn’t wanted to divorce him but he would gamble and lose the mortgage payment or the car payment, and when they lost the house she filed for divorce hoping it would be a wake-up call for him.

    That scene, and this post, reminds me of the reasons I’ve never really bought the “Booth is a gambler” storyline. We just don’t see much evidence of a gambling problem to the point that it becomes a real addiction problem. Really, the only person who talks about Booth being a gambler is Booth himself. Cam has that one comment, and that’s about it.

    I believe that defining him as a gambler was first a character point, a flaw that made this big tough guy vulnerable but strong (strong in that he was facing his demon and beating it). Second, it’s Booth defining himself as a gambler. I think Booth the Sniper is so controlled and rigid that the uncertain outcome of betting is frightening. I don’t believe Booth ever hit rock bottom as a gambler, but I think he was able to see the potential and going to GA was a way to take back control.

    • Part of the point I was trying to make is that I think Booth does have a real gambling problem. It’s just not how people think of it. And yes, I completely agree that it’s written to be a non-fatal character flaw, if you will, where it’s referenced but never shown. (I.e., they talk about it, but we never see the effects of it.)

      But that said, I think if you understand that addiction in the real world isn’t nearly as cut and dried as many people think, there’s plenty of room for addiction as Booth appears to have experienced it. Namely, its consequences were limited, and when he was sufficiently motivated, he was able to walk away. Not simply – not when he attended, that we know of, at least two years of meetings – but in such a way that we see no evidence of him being tempted now. Placing a bet with Sweets doesn’t send him to the pool hall, and there was nothing to suggest in Woman in the Sand that it was difficult for him not to sit down at the craps table.

      I’m not saying it was easy for him to break the addiction. Not at all. But people take things that are held by our culture to be true for all addicts, and then assume things about Booth that we’re never shown rather than saying, ‘okay, Booth doesn’t fit what I’ve been told is true of addicts” and going from there.

      And yes, there are definite control issues for him that tie back to some of this.

      • I think what makes it hard for me to accept that Booth has a gambling problem is that I don’t think “they” have done a good job showing us he had a gambling problem. For my money, it’s much more apparent that he has control issues and love issues.

        I sort of compare Booth with another character who had a gambling problem – Warrick on CSI. His gambling was always an issue and maybe the Las Vegas setting helped that theme along.

        I guess in the end, if Booth thinks he has a gambling problem, then Booth has a gambling problem because that’s really all that matters. That and that he was serious enough about it to spend two years in GA learning to control it. I just wish, like others have said, there was some consistency in showing the viewers exactly what Booth means when he says he has a “gambling problem.”

  4. Great post; I agree with you that what he does with Brennan is not gambling-in fact, it’s probably the opposite, because other than the 100th he’s never let himself take a chance with her in the event that this may cause her to bolt. The 100th came about a little bit because of Sweets, but mainly because of the intense pressure that had been builidng up since the coma dream. He saw how they could be and was pining for it. It’s much like a great dream you’ve had and suddenly woken up from; it leaves you haunted, and wishing you could fall back asleep to experience it more. He would have declared himself eventually-at this point what he felt was too intense to keep under wraps anymore, as we saw all through the first part of season 5. But I don’t see this as a gamble per se; he was gauging her reactions all the time and felt she might be ready. More of a caculated risk than a gamble, if you will. Brennan has never been a game to him and he wasn’t treating her as such in the 100th, although I do feel that he always gets a rush from being with her just as she gets one with him.

    The gambling chip in Daredevil? If there was ever a dangerous moment for him, I think this was it. He couldn’t take refuge in his apartment because Hannah was there clearing out, and he couldn’t go to Brennan’s place for obvious reasons. The temptation to go somewhere that he shouldn’t would have been very strong at this point, and I believe that by going to the bar he chose what for him was the lesser of two evils. I was proud of him; if there was ever a time to fall off the wagon this would have been it, yet he didn’t. I think the chip was taken out as a reminder of his weakness and also of his willpower, which leads me to think that gambling was one of his choices that night, one that he refused to make.

    • Well said. I especially like & agree with your thoughts about the poker chip.

    • For reasons that escape me, people try to categorize what happened with Brennan in the 100th and what happened with Hannah in Daredevil as being the same thing, or at least stemming from the same motive and/or pathology.

      I can’t see that. I agree with you about the 100th. Although I know people who disagree with me, I think he was in love with her prior to the coma dream (I date it back to the 2nd season) and agree with Avalon in her assessment of Sweets’ analysis of his brain charts. I think after living that reality, though, going back to the pre-coma existence of waiting for Brennan to catch up with him became nearly impossible.

      Did Sweets know what would happen when he prompted Booth to take that risk? (“you’re the gambler”?) I don’t know. Either he thought Brennan was ready and Booth needed only to take the initiative, or he suspected she’d turn him down but thought they still needed to have it out on the table. Either way, a gambler that has to be prompted to take a risk after three years (or however long you think he was in love with her/believed he was) isn’t displaying typical gambling behavior. He didn’t do anything there that men and women who’ve never placed a bet in their life don’t do everyday when they tell someone they’re interested in a romantic relationship.

      What happened with Hannah, on the other hand, was much more typical of gambling behavior. There were always problems with the relationship, as it was founded on sand from day one, with very little actual intimacy between them. And he comes across as desperate more than once to make it all work out, to make it be something it wasn’t. I have my own theories about that, and they have nothing to do with his desire for love and marriage, but rather with what he was running from. And I think he hit a point where that desperation prompted him into making that gamble. Did he know what would happen? No, because he wasn’t thinking about it. I think if he had ever stopped and taken a close look at it, he would have known – he’s not a stupid man. But he didn’t, for the same reason that many of us don’t examine our actions at times. Once it happened, then I think he saw his behavior clearly, even if his questions about Hannah’s behavior were still out there. And that’s why the poker chip came out.

      But to lump those two situations (the 100th, the proposal) into the same category is to do the character a disservice, I think.

  5. I too see Booth’s problem of being a child of an abusive alcoholic father, as the thing what has caused more issues and problems for him. Gambling isn’t Booth biggest problem. My father is the child of an abusive alcoholic father. I see similarities between how my dad reacts to things and how Booth does. In my entire relationship with my father he has mentioned his father only twice and briefly. I always thought this was really odd. He was never brought up in conversations or in telling of old stories. My dad’s dad died when I was a few month old. I think my dad chose to believe that he never existed after that.

    I do see where it shaped how he would later live his life. He wanted to be the best father possible. Because that is something he didn’t have. Stability and security was something he craved. When you have to wait for your alcoholic father to get home from the bar to open your Christmas presents you learn to crave normalcy that you hear or think that others seem to have. You look at happy families out doing things together and you think to yourself that is what it is suppose to be like. That is what I should have had. You in a sense crave that idea or aspire to eventually get that. My dad still lives on the same farm he was brought home from the hospital, but instead of being like his father he was bound and determined to do it all better and in a way get back at his father that way. He decided to get that 30, 40 or 50 years and do it better than his father. To be the best father and husband he could be. To have that security and perfect picture he always craved for as a child and give it to his children. The one thing I always feel my father never quite gets though, is the sense that he is good enough. Its like that child he was, that experienced what he did, will always be searching to erase what happened to him, his mother and siblings. He tries to make sure his dream doesn’t fade but in the back of his mind that alcoholic father is always looking over his shoulder waiting to cause havoc. I think this is Booth’s problem too. Instead of living his own life. He is trying to obtain or gain that life he thinks he should have had. But his father is always there in the back of his mind creating havoc in Booth’s life.

    • I think you’re probably right on the mark with Booth trying to create that happy family he saw other’s have but he didn’t while growing up. He has that image so firmly fixed he has trouble seeing other versions of happiness. Also yes he probably always hears in the back of his mind his father’s voice telling him he’s not good enough and doesn’t deserve that. All of that being by-products of being a child of an alcoholic…a physically abusive alcoholic.

  6. Excellent post. You supplied lots of food for thought! I agree that gambling is not the root cause for many of Booth’s issues. I also agree that being the best is extremely important to Booth and that the fact he isn’t right now would cause him stress. I’ve long had the idea in the back of my mind of the man you paint in your post. I’ve never tried to examine it or define it. I appreciate that you were able to verbalize it and give that idea ‘concrete substance’. One of the many Ah Hah moments I get with these posts! “Oh! Yes! THIS is why I feel the way I do!” Thank you for supplying the evidence you used to come to your conclusions. Thank you for the post! I’m very much looking forward to your follow-up piece!

  7. Ok, I think I’m going to be taken outside and shown the error of my ways but… Booth, in my opinion is not a gambler. He is, and whether that is better or worse I will not comment, a masochist.
    You heard me. He craves the hurt and the pain. I’ll spare you the psychobable, mostly because what I’ve got is not a a degree in the stuff but mostly, thirty odd years of a well lived life. But Booth, he does not gamble for the reasons gamblers do it: he is not after oblivion or gratification. He is after the pain of losing.

    Pain comes in all shapes and sizes as you all know.

    And this is why gambling does not interfere with his functional life. Because he actually gets what he needs the simplest way because the house never loses. How do I prove my theory?
    Well, Rynogeny did it for me. You see how Booth tells Brennan that he is the gambler? He is using something that we never saw any particular effects for to justify an action that is going to land him in a s*** load of pain. The same with Rebecca and with Hannah. He only gambles when he knows he can lose. After all, being intelligent – and most particularly, emotionally intelligent- the heart of the operation- he was the one who played his hand too soon or too late or too wrong. In all three cases. you would have expected him to have learnt before he got to Hannah…

    What the scene in elevator in the Blackout in the Blizzard tells me is that finally, thank god, Booth is taking an healthier approach. He is not going in for a few rounds with cat o’nine tails. He considers his chances, assesses the situation and then goes for it.

    Who on hearth wants to be served his decapitated balls for breakfast again? Go Booth.

    And this is how I can accept how the 100th played out.

    Jane

    • I have a feeling that this is the general direction that Ryn might take us as we look at Booth being the adult child of an alcoholic. I don’t know that I would say he craves the hurt and pain, but I would agree that part of him expects it and that he may or may not feel that it is deserved.

      • Great post Rynogeny,
        I don’t know if this will make sense or relate but here goes…
        I agree with some of what you have said but I also think what Jane and Janet have said has merit as well.
        I think for a lot of things in Booth’s life, he feels he doesn’t deserve much.
        We know that his relationship with his father was not that great and maybe it is those personal negative experiences that make him want or expect the pain of losing, in gambling, in relationships.
        IE…If you get told enough times you are a screw up and you will never amount to anything, then you tend to believe it. Setting yourself up for failure becomes a self fulfillng prophecy, because the negative experiences are so much easier to believe than any or all positive experience(s)
        Hope this makes some kind of sense, I am no where near as articulate as most of you here at BT but wanted to contribute.

    • I think I agree with you but also ProfeJMarie below. Booth does expect things to turn out badly for him and subconsciously pushes for the outcome that will reinforce his expectation.

      • Absolutely, Barbara. He grew with hurt, it must be difficult to expect anything else. He dreams if happiness because he is a strong resilient sort that despite all that happened, all that shaped him, he will rise above it. And that booth is very worthy of admiration.

        Jane

  8. I would consider Booth a “gambler” in relationships…still stemming from the alcoholic father angle. Booth is coming from the same place as Brennan, that close family cannot be trusted (Booth’s father, Jared, Max, Russ…) and that somehow its their (B &B’s) own personal fault, that they are flawed and not deserving of that love.

    However, they approach it differently. Brennan chose to shut herself off completely from the world, trying to compartmentalize everything, keep co-workers at arms length, choosing relationships that are surfac-y and doomed to failure so that she never felt that sting of having a loved one leave her again.

    Booth, though, chooses to “gamble” on relationships. He throws himself wholeheartedly into relationships just to try to have that nuclear family type thing, but chooses the wrong girl, who inevitably disappoints him. He puts himself out there, contrary to Brennan’s shells of protection, and he often gets hurt in the process. So I think he is always “gambling” with his heart.

    Brennan sees this, and knows there is a possiblity she could enter into a relationship with him, and her “flaw” of not being loveable would either push him away or just cause him to leave her. Keeping him at arms’ length is to both protect him and lessen the hurt when he (in her mind) eventually leaves. She bases this on her failed relationships (family and exes) as her evidence.

    Booth also knows this about Brennan. He knows she has these feelings but he, again, “gambles” that she might give it a try, that he could push past those walls for once. But again, I think he jumped the gun, as he seems to in relationships, and she wasn’t ready.

    When Brennan lets down her walls, and Booth waits for the right time instead of rushing into something and forcing it, ooohhhh I can’t wait to see when/if it happenssssss! 🙂 🙂

  9. Fantastic post as usual rynogeny. I don’t disagree with any of it and really appreciate your insights (both personal and professional) into the how’s and why’s of addiction. I’m looking forward to reading your next installment.

  10. Great post! I also agree with everything you’ve said, and look forward to the next installment. Also, I resonate with what Jane Bond and ProfeJMarie say in terms of Booth’s feelings of being undeserving. We’ve definitely seen Booth have some self destructive tendencies, whether it’s an inability to communicate his own needs/desires, or taking a risk he might deep down know is going to end in pain.

  11. It’s hard to see Booth as a gambler when the show makes some odd turns as you pointed out in the one show where he and Sweets make a bet and Brennan holds the money and in Double Death of the Dearly Departed when Booth collects a $20 bill from the deceased for a bet on (I think) fantasy football. Gamblers can fall off the wagon for less than that.

    Of course, each person is different. Each addiction, however, follows a pretty similar pathway. I tend to think that Booth is a person who likes to be in control. Gambling was a point in which he was out of control and he saw that the pathway was going to take him into something akin to his father’s drinking. He likes to be in control and with Brennan, he sees someone he can be “in control” with since she, too, is very much in control of her life. They almost feed off of each other’s ability to compartmentalize.

    People who have addiction as part of their family DNA can demonstrate their addiction in many different ways. Dad drinks so I won’t but I’ll have issues with gambling. Mom gambles, so I won’t choose that path, but I’ll be addicted to sex or drugs or something else.

    With Booth, I see that the show hasn’t fully explored his addiction to provide us with a clear picture of what happened or even how. The why is there– he becomes a flawed character with the potential for great story lines if the show goes that route. But on a character level he becomes more human, more “tortured”, more appealing in his own way. We can relate to him. Flawed heroes are so much more appealing than perfect heroes because we can see ourselves in them.

    He and Brennan have danced around each other in a waltz of control. Both know the attraction, both have a sense of wanting to act on that attraction, both fear the potential loss if, in acting on that desire, something becomes broken or lost. Whether that control is a matter of his upbringing, an addiction, a reaction to an addiction is unclear. But it is a control that he holds onto.

    But he does gamble. He gambles on his hunches with suspects and with the cases. He gambles on his relationship with Brennan, his relationship with Hannah, his relationship with Brennan again. His gamble is that Brennan is going to be there for him on a case or as a potential lover. We know his gamble with Hannah; he was in the middle of trying to control the uncontrollable again and it blew up in his face. His response is to throw away everything that reminds him of Hannah and to give up on love because that is something he could not control. Now, with Brennan this close, he is willing to try to control that situation– pick a date, try to get her to agree that he isn’t as bad as Broadsky, get her to see that she should apologize for an opinion, get her to see that her view of things may not be altogether right. He’s still trying to control the uncontrollable and at least Brennan is not only playing his game, but beating him at it. She takes everything he’s throwing at her and she’s holding on and coming up with compromise that she’s never quite done before.

    In some ways, he still wants things his way. He wants control. Gamblers do that. Addicts do that. It’s a paradox, but it is true that addiction is like that– trying to closely control something to the point that everything spirals out of control. Addicts want to control the uncontrollable. The only question is, will the uncontrollable, will Brennan, continue to allow herself to be tested?

    • Unfortunately, I don’t quite agree with some of what you say here (you’re not alone in that) because of what I was saying about round pegs/square holes. There are things which are believed to be true by the public at large – and even some professionals – which aren’t supported by studies. The fact that something might be true for a large number of people with an addiction, for example, doesn’t make it true for everyone. Twelve step programs have a high success rate, but they don’t work for everyone. Some people respond better to other methods.

      There are similarities between one type of addiction and another…as well as differences that can only be explained by accepting that the individual matters. Unfortunately, those ‘truths’ are so set in stone that people really can’t see beyond them.

      As to Booth gambling on his hunches…I simply don’t see that. What I see there is no different from behavior I see in dozens of people who make intuitive leaps – in all kinds of fields of work – but who have never placed a bet in their life.

      We all take risks – it’s impossible to go through life where you only take actions when the outcome is guaranteed. To equate that with a gambling addiction is unfair. I think.

      In other words, yes, Booth is a gambler. He says so, and went to meetings to help him get that urge under control. I don’t question that. But many of the things people point to as proof that gambling is still a major factor in his life are things that, if another character did it, would be viewed as completely reasonable behavior.

      • My point is that the show plays fast and loose with the gambling. One minute he’s hyperventilating in a casino and the next he’s making a bet. The lack of consistency makes me opt for the other thing that he has and that is an addictive background (perhaps even an addictive genetic component) that is really more about growing up as the child of an alcoholic and less about being a gambler per se. I grew up in that same environment and I understand it very well. He attempts to control his environment so that he can control the impulses to gamble, drink, what have you. For him, it’s about controlling what he fears– his potential for losing control (like his abusive father.)

        He gambles twice on the show for money. What are the consequences? Where’s the GA meeting? Brennan practically takes off his hand in the casino and then holds the money in Sweets’ office. The behavior is inconsistent because it is driven by the plot points in the stories, not the character.

        The consistency is in the behavior as a child of an alcoholic. The magical thinking. The low self-esteem. Being super responsible. More concerned about other people than himself. Judges himself harshly. Do anything to hold onto a relationship. Love people who need rescuing. The tendency to lock himself into a course of action without giving serious consideration to alternative behaviors or possible consequence.

        If anything, Booth is more ACOA than a gambler; his “gambling” is more of the kind in which he locks himself into behaviors without considering the consequences. He did that on the strip with his Army buddy and he probably was doing that at the pool hall. He tries to control his environment in his super-responsible mode because that allows him to avoid his addictive past and the fears that he could be his father. He choose gambling as his addiction because it is something that he can take or leave usually. Yes, he might hit GA, but he can also make a couple of bets along the way that don’t lead him into full-fledged gambling nightmare.

        Does he gamble? Yes. Is he a gambler? Well, he defines himself as one, but then he goes ahead and gambles in the show which tells me that there’s something not quite right when even Brennan or Sweets aren’t on him about it. (Granted, Sweets might not have known at the time, but if the show was really serious about him having a gambling addiction, would Brennan have allowed him to go forward with a bet unscathed? No.) He blithely gambles on people and things in his job and even his relationships, but I don’t really see him as being an addicted gambler. He reacted because of the lack of control in his life and sought help, but his character is more defined by being ACOA than being a gambler; needing to control the uncontrollable in his life than needing to control a gambling addiction.

    • I can’t reply to your reply down there, so will do so here.

      I agree that what we see is for plot reasons. They wanted him flawed, and haven’t worried overmuch about the particulars except when it suits them. But…that said, my point was that I think that what we see fits within the parameters of a high functioning recovered/former gambler. (I say ‘recovered/former’ because one of the ways individuality comes into play has to do with how people describe themselves. Some say, ‘former addict,’ others ‘recovering’ and the distinction matters a great deal to them.)

      I also agree that being the child of an alcoholic has affected his life much more than his gambling, something I’ll be addressing soon. But I will make the following observation: As I noted in my post, I, too, am an ACOA. Yet I suspect that if you and I could sit and have a long talk, we’d discover we’re very different. (Just as I have very little in common with my siblings.) I don’t exhibit all the traits common to ACOA’s – I don’t know know anyone who does. So some of the traits you see in Booth as being attributable to his dad being a drunk…I either don’t see at all or don’t think that’s their cause.

      In one way, that’s irrelevant, too, because we all see the characters through the filter of our own experiences. So the fact that I don’t see him exhibiting some of the behaviors you do doesn’t mean anything. I just took away a need from my own experiences to see people as individuals who respond to their circumstances in their own unique ways. That doesn’t mean there aren’t commonalities, but they shouldn’t be the controlling factor in how we view others.

  12. The gambling; I know people can have an addiction and still function in society to where all but those closest to them are not aware of the addiction. I’d imagine that’s Booth; an addict that managed to function quite well in society. He seemed to have things under control enough to not lose everything, to not neglect his responsibilities as a father to Parker…because Ryn is absolutely right I can’t see Rebecca not bringing that up if it had ever been a problem. Also yes I can see it as something that Jared would have thrown into his face at some point. So just how much did others know about his problem.
    It is something that Cam knew about; mentioning it in the 100th and it appears from comments there that it is something that kept him from being the best FBI Special Agent he could be (or am I’m mixing up the show with fanfic now?). I mean he could have been gambling every night that he didn’t have Parker for all we know. He’s not a full-time dad and would have had plenty of nights without Parker. Booth definitely could have had a problem but still had enough control to be there for visits with his son; still make sure he had the money for child support, rent, and other essentials. We don’t know enough about his childhood so did they go without at times and he just made sure he was never in that situation again? He did say his gambling wasn’t a problem because he usually won. That is before admitting at least to himself finally that it was a problem he needed to deal with, even if he did usually win.

  13. Thanks rynogeny for the amazing post. If I just could put my thoughts on paper!
    I don’t think Booth is a serious Gambler, because as you said, it never really came up. He might have thought that he can get addicted to it, because he knows, that there is a possibility to every addiction.
    But I have to agree with bb that he “gambles” with his relationships. I still believe that he know that his attempt to ask Hannah for marriage would fail, but he tried and took the risk of a different outcome. After the “Sin in the Sisterhood” he needed to “pick a wife” and stay with her and that ultimately be Brennan, but he could not just dump Hannah. But the fallout of her reaction was never less very painful
    Now in reading all the post of some of you, I am very thankful that I have had never experience anybody with an addiction in my family, but I had a girlfriend ones and her mother was an alcoholic, but I had no experience to really understand it. I was still very young.
    But in evaluating what alcohol can do to people is frightening and I can understand that Booth had suffered through his father’s illness, and that he craves a normal life. I still would like to find out what ever happen to his mother, but of course this is a show and not everything can be brought in the open.
    So in one way he suffers the same things then Brennan. Abandonment. His Father being up send while drinking and his mother (?). Or could there even be more horrific things happen while he was young. Was there not a talk about physical abuse? Maybe something happen to his mother and he could not prevent it and now he beats himself up, endures the pain and hurt in a masochistic way, like Jane Bond wrote, and is so protective about the people in his life, which sometimes drives them crazy.
    I just hope there will be a big talk with Brennan one day, where the both of them can bring all their issue in the open and then can start to heal and find happiness they deserve.
    P.S. I have to go back; I am the first one in my Family with an addiction. That is BONES. Is there a cure?

  14. Wow, Rynogeny, that was really great to read – thanks for sharing your thoughts! I honestly haven’t given much thought to Booth as the “degenerate gambler”; I’ve just kind of accepted that it’s a small piece of who he is, and he deals with it when it comes up, but that it’s never been the kind of thing that would destroy him.

    Booth kind of reminds me of Sky Masterson from “Guys and Dolls”. Heck, I squealed a little when he was wearing the Guys and Dolls shirt in The Woman in the Sand. Sky’s charming, debonair, street smart and mysterious. He’s a high roller, he plays craps, he’s a lone wolf and no one gives Sky any crap. And then Sky Masterson meets Sister Sarah Brown and suddenly, being a lone wolf doesn’t look so appealing. Granted, his interest in her, at first, is purely selfish because of what she can do for him, but he slowly discovers that there is more to her than meets the eye and he is intrigued and falls for her and ultimately gives up gambling. On paper, they don’t make sense, but together they are magic. Sound familiar? (And I just have to add, it’s really a shame DB’s singing voice isn’t up to musical theater standards, because I’d love to see Booth singing “Luck Be a Lady”… maybe he can whistle it sometime… :P)

    Anyway, the point I’m making is that I totally agree that Booth doesn’t need the gambling. It’s there, it’s part of his past and he accepts it. I think maybe he used to use the gambling to blow off steam or get that rush to help him feel good, but he’s gotten to the point where he knows he doesn’t need it. I think the poker chip and the dice he carries around are a talisman of sorts and he uses them to help keep himself grounded and remind himself that he doesn’t need the gambling.

    I’m looking forward to your post about Booth as a child of an addict, and I agree that THAT is a bigger issue for Booth than the gambling, and is probably at the root of a lot of his problems. For as strong as Booth is and for as strong as he comes across sometimes, he has a lot of hangups about his self-worth, and his self-esteem can be downright crappy at times and I’m positive that his father’s drinking has a lot to do with it. And I’m sure that the gambling is probably tied into all that as well.

  15. We don’t know why Booth started gambling or when, but likely he started gambling with his Ranger buddies in the Army, which would be a pretty typical way for soldiers to pass the time. Booth continued this behavior when he got home, because it felt good to win – and he was good at it. He’s never let it interfere with his personal life or his job, so far as what we’ve been shown…but obviously, Booth felt it was a problem, because he does end up at GA meetings. So…at some point, it must have been a life-issue for him.

    His abusive childhood plays a major role in his adult life, and that is likely the cause of his addiction in the first place. Booth has that addictive gene, just like his father (we know Jared does too). Either you mimic the behavior of your parent or you shun it completely, vowing to never be like dad or mom. I think Booth learned early on to suppress his real needs and emotions from people and found an outlet to bolster his self esteem in the form of gambling.

    What I found interesting, as I thought about this, was how Booth doesn’t like to do anything…unless he is good at it. In The Man in the Mud, Sweets asks Booth and Brennan to go on a night out with him and his girlfriend. When Booth is confronted with doing something he’s not good at, he tries to get Sweets to consider bowling or rock climbing…and shudders when the final *date* ends up to be a pottery class. He’s very uncomfortable with that prospect and moans about it. But once they’re in pottery class, Booth doesn’t throw a pot like the rest of them. He picks something totally different. He sculpts a horse…and a very good one. But this sets him apart from the others…which is a feeling he’s carried with him all his life (he’s not worthy of love…so he must be different), because of the abuse. We know Booth was/is a good Army Ranger, sniper, FBI agent…even a good lover (we never heard complaints from the women he’s been with)…so it seems that whatever PHYSICAL challenge is presented to Booth, he dives right in…and wins.

    It’s the emotional challenges that catch him off-guard and fail him. The fallout from his childhood. Booth is addicted to the *idea* of love…what it’s supposed to be like. And honestly…isn’t love, as Booth sees it, the only thing he’s ever really failed at?

    The fact that Booth keeps that poker chip with him…at all times…is a sign, to me, that he had a serious gambling issue. Laying the chip down on the bar in Daredevil…as well as frequently playing with it…keeps him from that temptation. It only takes one drink, one cigarette or one game of crap to hook yourself back into addiction. In the 100th when Cam confronted him about being out gambling the night before, he says he’s ok…and then she says *because you won* tells me, first of all, Booth hadn’t even been home or slept that night. That’s not a minor problem in my book. But I must say it’s commendable that Booth, despite his emotional issues, has been able to resist his gambling urge. The question always becomes…what would set him off down that path again? There’s always a trigger. And I’m just a little curious what might happen in the future, since gambling and addiction issues have been brought up in several episodes this season. Hmm…the writers might ignore it, as they’ve done other things in the past…or maybe not.

    • I like what you say here about his response to the pottery class in Man in the Mud, and not wanting to do anything unless he’s good at it.

      Unfortunately, many of your other points I disagree with, because studies and real life don’t support them for all individuals – which was the point I was trying to make about the round peg/square hole. They may be true for some, may even be true for many in certain ways. But they’re not true for all.

      There’s a genetic link with alcoholism, especially where the mother is concerned. If there’s literature supporting a broad ‘addiction gene’ I’d very much like to read it. Part of the problem is that addictions can look so similar on the outside (gambling, alcoholism) when very different things are going on internally.

      Another thing that’s true for many but not all is the belief that if an addict takes one sip/places one bet/smokes one cigarette, they’re plunged back into fully addictive behavior. It’s simply not supported by studies and what therapists see.

      It’s like something I said in another reply – twelve step programs are gold. They work…for millions of people. But not for everyone, and it’s not an issue of commitment to the program. The individual never stops mattering. Why they’re addicted, how that plays out, and how they move past the addiction…all vary. What works with one person, what’s true of one person, may not be true for another. If it’s true of even that one person, it should be respected for that…but too many people are damaged by approaches that don’t work and don’t help. They’re told, ‘you didn’t make a serious commitment to change’ and give up, when what they needed was a different approach altogether.

      Booth is a gambler. He’s reformed. Not every decision he makes currently is the result of his gambling background, and the reality is that he was a very high-functioning addict in the sense that others in his life appear not to have been affected, with the possible exception of Cam. That doesn’t mean his gambling wasn’t a problem, it’s just that it is what it is, and to make it more than that…well, he’s not a real person and people are going to see what they see.

      What I see is very little support for addiction being a dominant issue in his life now or his current choices. It’s there, in his past, as it is for millions of people who used to gamble and now don’t. He’s not cocky about it, never denies it (well, unless you count his “I’m not a betting man” to Hannah). He owns it and goes on. But many of the things I see people confidently point to and say, ‘he did this because he’s an addict’…if they’re true, many of us are addicts.

      I do think he’s influenced by his experiences as the child of an alcoholic, and will be commenting on that in a follow-up post. Even there, though, I don’t see what many people see. (Figures, eh?)

      • Guess I really didn’t make myself very clear in my post, because I do agree with you. While it seemed I was speaking in generalities, I didn’t mean to imply that. I don’t and never have believed every addict behaves in the same way, just as everyone reacts differently to their environment and stimuli.

        I worked for an addictions counselor for eight years, who covered every addiction in the book…from alcoholic Priests to sexual addiction to transgender issues, and if I didn’t learn anything else, I learned that you can’t catagorize people by one set of rules…and the people you suspect are normal are the very ones who aren’t…but that’s another story. Each individual is unique with different influences and reactions.

        I had several family members…on my father’s side who were alcoholics…and they all came from their father’s side of the family. While you indicate that research leans towards the mother’s family as possessing the addictive gene, it may not always be the case. Science and psychology are always discovering new insights into the workings of the brain…and there’s always more to learn. What we once knew to be true and valid can be dispelled at any time in the future.

        So, again,I didn’t mean to imply that all it takes is one time back into their addiction to get hooked for everyone…only that for some, it can be that way. And I never meant to imply that this is a major, current issue for Booth. I intended to include in my post that it never has, from what we’ve seen, affected his personal relationships or his work. So…sorry for leaving out that point…I assumed it was obvious, since we’ve never seen otherwise. I still think it’s an issue for Booth…but not, I repeat, a major one. I wasn’t saying there was anything wrong with him playing with the chip. If that’s how he deals with it, then that’s what works for him. If it keeps him grounded, all the better.

        I hope this clarifies my standpoint. Anyone who knows me also knows my favorite quotes: *Never say never* and *There is no such thing as normal*

        My *normal* may not be yours. 😀

    • Can’t reply to your reply, so will do so here…thank you for clarifying! Yes, it sounds like we’re on the same page. My point, for example, wasn’t that there’s no genetic component on the paternal side, but that current studies are finding stronger links on the maternal side. Mostly, addiction is a very complex issue with a lot of components. (Case in point: alcoholism is rampant on both sides of my family, and my father was an alcoholic. All my mother’s brothers were, but she wasn’t and neither were her sisters. And despite all that family history, none of my siblings or I is an alcoholic.)

      The individual never stops mattering.

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  17. Wow, this was a lot to process, and I haven’t had a whole lot of time to do that, haha, but I’m pretty sure I agree with a lot of what’s being said!

    One thing I can confidently say I do agree with off the top of my head is that Booth’s…everything, is way more colored by his oldest-son-of-an-alcoholic childhood than by whatever gambling addiction he had/has.

    I’ve actually often wondered about the gambling addiction–while Booth seems to be pretty up front and unashamed about it, the issue in general is pretty much shrouded in vaguery. I’m so glad to hear others say that they don’t see Booth as impulsive, because I never have either. Also, that there are offhand mentions of Booth making bets in other episodes–the twenty from Double Death, and the bet where Brennan plays Bank Lady (how cute is she in that scene…) has always seemed sketchy to me, along with how little Booth seemed to struggle with being in Vegas.

    The only person we’ve seen on the show who we can definitively say knew Booth and knew about his gambling problem at the time it was going on is Cam. She mentions it, and kind of gives him a pointed little look, and then leaves it alone. Cam isn’t one to rag and nag on Booth, but she does have a history of calling him out on stuff. It always seemed sketchy to me that she really doesn’t at that point outside the elevator–not much. Does it mean that Cam doesn’t believe it’s a serious problem? Maybe, but it’s also possible that she’s already called him out on it before to no avail.

    Anyway, all this is supposed to be making a point, haha. Now I’m the kind of viewer who basically bows down at the altar of the creators and accepts willingly whatever they bestow, swallows whatever lines they’re feeding me. What I’m saying is that though I’ve always felt a little weird about Booth’s identity as a reformed gambler, I’ve never gone so far as to question it, because I’ve always felt like They intended for us to believe it. I’m still not sure if this thing of Booth’s gambler status being exaggerated is something HH&Co are expecting us to infer or believe, but the more I think about it, the more I think I’m going to have to go there (a big step for me, haha!).

    Anyway, the thing that makes the most logical sense to me is Booth being “addicted,” as it were, not to gambling, but to winning, to being the best. But being the child that he was in the situation he was in, he can never quite believe for himself that he is that good–that good of a sniper, that good of an agent, that good of a father, that good of a man. And so maybe he finds an outlet where being “good” is a tangible thing, where winning means dollar signs, not just respect that you can’t quite accept. And maybe he exaggerates his gambler status because as a habit he devalues himself. Maybe he’s a gambling addict according to the standards he sets for himself–so high I don’t think he even knows where they are, so high he can never reach them–and maybe he’s not really an addict at all by normal standards.

    I have no idea if any of that followed any sort of train of thought, haha, except maybe a derailed one? And maybe it’s all a crock, haha, but it certainly has been interesting to wonder about…

    • You make some interesting comments, and I’ll be addressing some of them in my follow-up post. But I will say that one thing that’s occurred to me is that Booth possibly sees his gambling recovery as a source of confidence rather than shame. Not in a bragging sense, never that. I don’t see that.

      But honestly, I don’t see his self-esteem as being as much in the toilet as some do. Yes, I think he’s got some issues with love and value, but I think he’s quite aware of things he does well, and is confident in them/because of them. And I suspect that he was able to kick the gambling is one of those things. It means he’s a better man than his dad was. I don’t mean by that that he’s cocky about it, that he thinks he could never be tempted or anything like that. But that when he thinks about the things he’s done that he can take pride in, that’s one of those things. Maybe.

  18. Booth is a little too tough on himself. He sets high standards and then feels badly when he falls short. I kind of take his gambling history as something that wasn’t really too much an addiction since it is only mentioned when the storyline requires it and not an issue when it doesn’t. There are not many (or any) repercussions it seems. Perhaps he knows that he has that tendency so he wanted to go to GA to make sure it didn’t become a problem. He certainly never hit bottom like most addicts. So he can say he has a gambling problem on their first meeting but at that point it seems he had already resolved it because he isn’t drawn to go back to the pool hall.

  19. Ryn……are you sitting down? Just…make sure you are, ok? I don’t want to be responsible for you injuring youself or anything 😉

    I TOTALLY AGREE!!!

    Sure there’s the odd moment where maybe we differ slightly in how we view certain aspects but mostly i just agree with you. It’s scaring me slightly but i’m rolling with it! LOL

    Some people put a lot of emphasis on Booths gambling past. Too much emphasis. Like you’ve said, from everything i’ve seen he was an addict who could still function. He wasn’t the type who let it ruin his life…it had a detremantal impact of course (addiciton almost always does) but he still…lived, i guess. And he lived a (resonably!!!) successful life.

    What i do find interesting is how (like you’ve mentioned) neither Jared or Rebecca have ever thrown it back at him. I think in terms of Jared it’s like you said, he may not have completely known about it. You mentioned that Jared has a very narrow view of Booth and i think mostly that is down to Booth. He strives to protect him (whether he needs it or not! LOL) and i think he’d have gone out of his way to hide what he percieved as his weakness.

    And with Rebecca…i think again it comes down to it not directly impacting her. It never affected her relations with him so she would have no need to use it against him. I also imagine it’s likely she didn’t know the full story either…we don’t know whether he was gambling when he was with her or not, or if she knew all the details. It wouldn’t have surprised me if be did his best to make light of it IF she knew. Does that make any sense???! LOL

    And with your final note i agree 100%. I think the fact that he was raised with an alcoholic and abusive father has a much larger impact on him now than his gambling past/present does. His feelings of self worth (or lack of it) stem from his childhood…not his gambling.

    I can’t wait to read your next post!!

    P.S. Re your beginning- i also hate people putting labels or expectations on people because of where they come from. Assuming you’ll be one thing because of your past…one thing guaranteed to get me riled up! LOL

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