We all know gambling can be extremely fun, and even euphoric at times, but it’s also important to recognize that these games can have serious consequences. Follow these tips to keep yourself from going on tilt—on and off the tables.
For many, the allure of gambling is seen as a way to make quick and easy cash, and given this mindset, the compulsion to do it is, at times, almost too much to resist. Unfortunately, behind the games, the chips, and the euphoric rush, there is the possibility, however small, that a person may develop an addiction to the game that no amount of hands or winnings can quench. When this happens, it can be a very debilitating thing, both for the person who is within the grips of the addiction and those around him or her.
Look, we love poker and gambling and we know how fun—and yes, lucrative—these activities can be, but it’s also worth noting that even though these are just games, there’s money on the line. Money, as we know, can drive people to do some pretty crazy things. Including problem gambling.
Problem gambling is defined as “an urge to gamble continuously despite harmful negative consequences or a desire to stop.” In other words, it’s defined as problem gambling, or a gambling addiction, when you’ve pushed well past the mere enjoyment of a game, and cannot stop doing it.
If you’re going to gamble, you should be aware of how to minimize the risk of problem gambling. That’s why we’ve compiled a list of tips for you to consider before you head over to the cashier.
Don’t try to double up after losses.
You had an incredibly stellar hand and the odds were in your favor up until the river card was revealed, and you ended up losing on a fluke. So, the next hand comes around, and while you aren’t sitting as pretty as you had been, you figure karma must be on your side this time around, right?
Well, maybe. It can be extremely tempting after a particularly bad loss to try to put twice as much money on the next “sure thing” to make up for it. While in theory this might seem like a smart play, you can just as likely end up on the losing end of the deal, as these plays can be made hastily and can result in you being down more than twice as much as you were before.
When it comes to poker—or virtually any other gambling game, for that matter—what happened on the previous hand or play doesn’t affect the outcome of the next one. Even on the roulette table, if black has hit ten times in a row, there’s just as good a chance as red that it’ll hit on the eleventh, too. There’s an old theory called the Martingale System wherein it’s suggested a bettor simply double his bet each time to win his money back, but it’s foolish: the house always has the edge, and an unlucky streak may leave you bankrupt before you can ever double up.
The only surefire way to double your money is to fold it in half and slide it back in your pocket.
Although, we must admit it isn’t the most fun method.
Don’t look at gambling as a way to pay the bills.
I know, you’re thinking this must be pretty ironic coming from a publication written and maintained by people who play poker professionally for a living. But that’s just it: we’re professionals. And yes, while we pride ourselves on it, we have spent years of our lives studying the strategies, odds, and nuances of the game in an effort to get to the level we’re now at.
This is absolutely not to say that you have to be a professional to enjoy gambling, either. If practiced in moderation and if looked at as a way to perhaps make money, but to more importantly add a little bit of excitement to your life, then it can be a wonderful activity.
Whether you prefer bouncing between multiple online Hold ‘Em tables simultaneously, sitting down to a friendly winner-take-all kitchen table game with a few friends, or betting the money lines of the teams you’re predicting to be successful on Sunday, if you keep it in perspective—namely, that your job has allowed you to be able to gamble, and that the gambling itself isn’t your job—then you’ll be able to truly enjoy it, and sleep easy at night.
Don’t gamble if you’re struggling with depression.
Further, a person might also be faced with a chicken-or-egg scenario: you may not be depressed when you begin gambling, but if you begin to lose a considerable amount of money over an extended period of time and find that you simply can’t stop playing, you may become depressed at your seemingly never-ending destructive behavior.
According to the National Council on Problem Gambling, there are significant links between gambling addiction and depression, and as many as one in every five chronic gamblers attempts suicide. This is why it’s important to recognize the signs of addictive gambling as soon as you think you may be exhibiting them.
If you find yourself putting your life, your family, or your job on hold for gambling, it’s time to step away.
The allure of money is something that can make even the most principled people second-guess themselves, but never should it take the place of the things you truly value in life, not to mention life’s obligations. In the same thread as Tip #2 (Don’t look at gambling as a way to make a living), you cannot put the duties of your real-life occupation on hold just to place your parlays or to play your last-minute hands.
Past that, it’s really about the toll that gambling can begin to take on your family. Many who are in the grips of gambling addiction go to extremes they would never dream about if they were in their right mind—even, according to Addictions.com, stealing from loved ones, like their spouses, parents, or children. As much as a monetary strain as problem gambling can put on a family, the true pain comes in the form of the distrust that can form, and the rifts that become ever-wider between people who love each other.
No relationship is worth sacrificing, regardless of the size of the pot.
We know how fun gambling can be—it’s why we’ve decided to make poker our livelihoods. But more importantly, while we at Upswing Poker are all about making sure you have the best opportunity to bring home some major wins, we also want to ensure that you do this responsibly. That way, it’s a win-win for everyone involved.
If you think you may be falling into the patterns of a gambling addiction, we encourage you to reach out to the National Council on Problem Gambling (NCPG) Helpline, either by phone or via text, at 1-800-522-4700. Assistance is available 24/7 and it’s 100% confidential.