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Keeping Emotions in Check While Gambling

Posted on December 1, 2020 | 12:36 pm

The rush of gaming can be an incredible feeling. No matter how much experience a player may have, the overpowering thrill of a come-from-behind victory or the crushing blow of a big loss never go away.

For serious players, however, this can be a real problem.

An advantage player knows what he or she is supposed to do in any gaming situation. Whether it’s knowing which pairs to split in Blackjack or understanding pre-flop betting in poker, there are no mysteries in terms of what should be done.

The challenge is this: sticking to the plan, no matter what!

And what’s more, when luck turns against you (as it sometimes will – that’s the nature of gambling), the bigger challenge appears: how to remain calm and stick to your winning strategy. Many excellent players have seen their bankrolls dwindle when one bad turn leads to worse choices.

So what is a player meant to do? How does a gambler keep their cool in the face of a massive emotional rush?

Believe it or not, there are concrete steps that can be taken to improve this element of your play. We’ve divided them into two sections: winning habits and routines that advantage players can adopt in their everyday lives, and techniques to be used in the moment, when that emotional rush hits.

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What To Do in Advance

  • Exercise every day. This might seem counterintuitive – what does going for a run, or lifting weights, or doing yoga on a regular basis have to do with advantage play?

what-to-do-in-advance-image2Don’t be fooled, though! Did you know that most martial arts, including karate, Tae Kwan Do, and Tai Chi were developed by monks?

That’s right! These physical disciplines were designed to raise the bar on what could be achieved through non-physical activities: meditation, prayer, and scholarship.

The skilled gambler’s predicament is no different. Physical discipline aids in mental discipline, whether it’s a monster, Dwayne Johnson-inspired gym workout or a simple walk. Believe it or not, regular exercise will improve your game.

  • Set Precise Win Goals and Loss Limits for Every Session.

Experienced punters know that setting clear win goals and loss limits are an essential part of good bankroll management.

This is never more important than when emotions get hot.

When a big win hits, the thrill of the moment makes it very easy to feel that luck is on a player’s side, and that the stage is being set for even bigger payouts.

But an advantage player knows that when their win limit has been met or exceeded, it’s time to leave. The house always wins over time…

… the key is to leave before that time comes!

  • Set an Alcohol Limit As Well.

Gamblers who have been drinking make poorer decisions, have much less stamina, and are far more prone to the gambler’s fallacy than those who haven’t.

  • Eat and Sleep Well.

A skilled player in a healthy, rested body is the casino’s worst nightmare.

Despite the legends of master punters playing for days at a time, it’s far better to begin playing with lots of energy in reserve than to already be at the end of your rope before the first hour is up!

  • Meditate.

Not to get too new-age-y about it, but the benefits of meditation have been increasingly proven true by scientific research.

Meditation has the power to quiet the mind, which sharpens the edges on a skilled gambler’s weapons. It may not be for everyone, but don’t knock it until you try it!

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What To Do in the Moment

  • Recognize what you’re feeling.

what-to-do-in-the-moment-image3Gamblers are human beings, and it would be insane if a huge win or loss didn’t bring about a big emotional response! But knowing that you’re elated or blinded with frustrating rage is the first step in managing those feelings.

  • Walk away. There’s not a player alive who can keep their feelings under control at all times. When you feel that control slipping away, just get up from the table and go for a walk. Moving the body will refresh the mind and get you back into the zone for future wins.
  • Try to Control Your Reaction. No one can control what happens to them entirely. The most risk-averse person in the world may never enter a casino, play the lottery, or even invest in the stock market…

…but even he or she must still contend with overall changes to the economy! Their home value or rent will rise or fall based on factors outside of their control, as will their professional prospects.

The point is that risk, winning, and losing are all part of life. No one can really be alive without experiencing all three, and to try and control them is folly.

What every person can do is control their reactions to wins and losses, whether at the gaming tables or beyond them.

For example, when a dealer wins a hand against you that they should have lost, try to smile and congratulate them!

This may run counter to every competitive instinct, but it can lighten the emotional burden of a big loss, or put a big win in perspective.

  • Change up. Suppose you’re playing poker, and you’ve successfully convinced the table’s biggest bettor (and biggest talker) to call an all-in bet pre-flop against your aces. This is a golden situation…

…until he flops a flush.

Every experienced gambler knows this sinking feeling. Sometimes the cards turn against you, even if you’ve done everything by the book. There are some nights when it seems to happen over and over!

At times like this, a change of game can be very useful. Move moving from poker to blackjack, for example, can help dissolve frustration and provide a fresh start.

One important caveat: stick to what you know: avoid those terrible side games like the plague! (Think Spanish 21 and the like.) Casinos offer these to fleece beginners who don’t know any better, and usually carry a massive house edge.

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