Smarter Gambling

5 Ways to Manage the Emotional Side of Gambling

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Written by Joshua

Gambling engages people emotionally quite often. Real money is on the line, and the highs of winning a big payout and lows of getting absolutely crushed can make players do things that are not advisable, such as chasing losses or trying to make even more money when they’re already way ahead.

The emotional side of gambling can be one of the most challenging aspect of things, which can lead to ATM trips, pulling more money out of the wallet or taking riskier actions. So with that in mind, here are five suggestions on how to manage the emotional side of gambling.

1. Set Stop Limits on a Game

Playing a game that’s not going your way, especially one where we want to believe the bonus is due to hit or the pot is going to close, even when we know that it’s not really guaranteed, can drive players to reach for more money when things aren’t happening. But that can easily be putting good money after bad.

It’s healthy and recommended to set a loss limit on a given game, casino trip, period of time, etc. If you use all the money you allocated for yourself for a game, moving on can ensure you don’t get sucked in to bigger and bigger losses which make you push for more and more play to try to claw your way back.

2. Take Breaks

Some players like to bounce around games. The act of bouncing around gets you off the machine, walking, moving, shaking off a bad run. Others will anchor down at a machine and play it for hours. For the latter, it’s still healthy to take breaks other than to visit the bathroom, especially if things aren’t going well.

Building breaks into your gambling routine can be healthy for a variety of reasons, but one is allowing opportunities for a clearer head to prevail and to mentally reset after a run, whether good or bad, to decide what to do next.

If you’re on a bad run, use that as a sign to get up and walk around a bit, shake it off – and break the pattern of losing for a bit to give yourself a chance to calm down and shake off the frustration.

3. Set Time Limits

Knowing when you’re going to be moving on can discourage taking risky actions because of an emotional reaction to what’s going on. But knowing you’re spending a set amount of time playing that day, or visiting that casino, may help avoid an ATM trip or a visit to the safe for more money.

Time limits and other gaming limits can not only improve your chances of going home with money, but reduce the risk of an emotional reaction that yields to negative outcomes vs. an open-ended session.

4. Getting Ahead? Do the Same

While I’ve focused on the losing side of gambling, many players forget to do the same thing when they’re winning. The same players who will up the bets when losing to try to make up losses may up the bets when they’re winning because they’re ahead and have more money.

While riding the momentum is a thing in gambling, it can be just as easy to blow through your bankroll and winnings if you’re not paying attention and don’t set similar limits. Some players leverage Players Banks and such to try to offset that, and if you know you’re one of those people, it can be a helpful device.

If you get ahead at the casino, recalibrate your plan, and consider one that has you taking home money regardless of how the day goes from there. Anytime you leave the house expecting to spend all the money you are bringing, and come home with some of it, that’s a win in itself. And if you can come away ahead for the session, even better!

5. Don’t Look for a Boogeyman

The most frequent scenario I see from emotional gambling is the instinct to blame the casino for tightening slots, or that they used their players card, casinos are hacking slots to play less than designed or so on because they had a worse than average casino trip.

Some players can’t wrap their head around the fact that a single session could be 2-3x worse than an expected average without payouts being lowered, but we never question when we leave the casino ahead, basically the flip side of that outcome.

Both outcomes are well within the mathematical possibility when playing a game where the outcome is achieved over thousands of machines, hundreds of tables and millions and millions of spins/hands/dice rolls/wheel spins/etc. across a casino floor.

The reality is slots have among the biggest advantages for the house on the casino floor – they don’t need to do anything but turn them on and let them do their work to make the casino money.

If you can’t shake it off, or avoid looking for scapegoats, it may be a sign you shouldn’t be gambling, as the emotional aspect has probably overtaken any enjoyment you can get out of it.

About the author


My name is Joshua, and I’m a slot enthusiast who works in tech as a marketer by day, and dabbles in casinos periodically during off-times. Know Your Slots will reflect my interests in understanding the various ways you can play slots, travel, casino promotions and how you can get the most out of your casino visits.

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