Redundancies, pay cuts and bankruptcies. Hardly the environment to make a fast buck in. But there are a few opportunities, other than equities, bonds, and hedge funds, to get rich and if these fail it may be time for a bit of soul searching at the nearest soup kitchen. Being laid off does not have to be the end of the world. You could spend all that free time discovering your hidden talents by writing a book. Children's literature is a good bet. Some of the all-time bestsellers are children's books and having your book made into a film will guarantee even more success. Timeless classics that have never gone out of print are Eric Carle's The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Beatrix Potter's the Tale of Peter Rabbit, Roald Dahl's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Antoine de Saint-Exupery's Le Petit Prince. The most famous rags-to-riches tale is that of J.K. Rowling. Thanks to her Harry Potter series, Rowling went from living on welfare to becoming Britain's 12th richest woman, according to last year's Sunday Times Rich List, with an estimated fortune of GBP560 million (HK$6.21 billion). She was named the highest paid author in the world by Forbes, making US$300 million in 2007 from book sales alone, along with James Patterson (US$50 million), Stephen King (US$45 million) and Tom Clancy (US$35 million). If your writing skills have been blighted by constant texting and messaging, then try your luck at games such as poker, blackjack and mahjong to boost your bank account. The Hong Kong Jockey Club warns against 'problem gambling' and recommends setting a budget, and only betting what you can afford to lose. However, as long as you remember it is just a form of entertainment and don't bet your house on your lucky number, then gambling can be fun and lucrative. Top professional poker players have accumulated more than US$5 million in prize money individually. If you have developed a healthy aversion to risk since the economic downturn, then pinning your last hopes on the roll of a dice may not be for you. However, you could consider starting an online gaming website. Research from ABN Amro released last month notes that online gaming is recession-proof and the Dutch bank expects it to continue to deliver high growth and high returns. China's online gaming market generated US$2.7 billion in revenue last year, accounting for 25 per cent of global online gaming revenue of US$11 billion, according to ABN Amro. The bank believes online gaming in China has further untapped potential and 36 per cent increase in revenue in the sector is predicted this year. Top names are all listed on Nasdaq and include Perfect World, which produces 3D fantasy games and is expanding, NetEase.com and 2D game developer Shanda, which has been actively acquiring gaming talent and game studios on the mainland and overseas, and top mainland 2D game operator Giant Interactive Group. Setting up an online gaming website or creating a new game that can sell millions may be difficult, however. It's not a bad idea to look into the upside of growth in the online gaming industry on the mainland. If sitting in smoky, dimly lit gambling dens or hunched over a computer is not your glass of single malt, and you still feel the stirrings of athletic prowess, then the lucrative world of sport may be for you. Your enforced downtime may be the perfect opportunity to get back into shape and win some prize money. The most obvious game for those who have lost the sporting physiques of their youth from long hours in the office is golf. Almost every executive has played the game and, although you may not be the next Tiger Woods who earned US$5,775,000 on the US PGA Tour last year despite being out for most of 2008 with a knee injury, you could still make a living on the minor tours or as a coach. In the United States a college-team coach can earn up to US$160,000 per year. If none of the above is appealing, then a HK$20 investment in the Mark Six may be your only option.