This article explores the decision making processes involved when Chinese international students' (CIS) decide whether or not to gamble, as well as the impact that such behavior have on the construction of their identities in a new sociocultural environment. Two waves of narrative interviews were conducted with 15 CIS who self-reported as having gambling problems at the time of interview, or at some stage in their lives but had since recovered. The findings revealed that pre-existing beliefs and experiences, and various cultural schemas were closely linked to the participants' decision making processes. The findings also showed that the participants' sense of self-worth and self-respect became compromised as a result of their problematic gambling. The participants assigned to themselves extremely negative self-images, for example, 'unfilial', 'unworthy', 'worthless', 'prisoner', 'a burden', 'hopeless' and so on, that dominated their whole sense of self.