If you enjoy gambling at brick-and-mortar casinos, you will love doing it online. You do not need to dress up, drive all the way to the casino, and deal with the pressure of playing at roped-off tables with the high rollers.
Okay … so a lot of people do enjoy that. But many others love the low-pressure, laid-back fun of gambling online, which you can do in your pajamas.
But it is easy to lose control when you are gambling online—even more so than it is offline. You can literally gamble anytime you want, and thanks to mobile apps, you can also gamble anywhere you have an internet connection.
The temptation is always there.
It takes next to no effort to open up a web browser, log into your account, pick a game, and start playing.
There is also the issue of playing with money online instead of with cold, hard cash. Research studies have shown that consumers are more likely to spend money on a credit card than they are to spend cash, because on some level, we tend to perceive of money as “not real” when we cannot physically hold it and see it.
So that is yet another way in which online gambling can tempt us to lose control.
People talk a lot about “gambling addiction,” but interestingly enough, researchers right now believe that gambling is not a true addiction. Symptoms of tolerance and withdrawal are rarely noticed in gamblers, and as research Dr. Fadi Anjoul points out, “We are dealing with habitual and poorly informed choices rather than biological processes that are beyond individual control.”
This is good news, because however “addicted” you may sometimes feel you are to gambling, you can maintain control. And even if you have “fallen off the wagon” and gone on tilt before, you can recover and get back to gambling responsibly. Most professional gamblers can point toward some time when they had trouble, so you still might have the potential to become a profitable gambler even if you do have tilt issues.
So how can you stay in control while gambling online? Here are 10 recommendations!
1. See your gambling for what it is.
For some people, gambling is a way to make money. For most, it is a mode of entertainment.
It is not overly important where you fall on that spectrum. Gambling is a great way to make money if you know what you are doing, or are willing to learn. But it is also a fabulous way to entertain yourself—and maybe make a little money back now and again.
What is important is to see your gambling clearly, and think of it accordingly. If you are dedicated to making a living as a pro gambler, you need to see and treat gambling as a business.
But if you are not supremely dedicated to that purpose, you need to accept you will lose more money gambling than you will make over time—even if you are pretty good. Accept that gambling is a form of entertainment—and an entertainment expense.
This will give you the context to make smart decisions about how you spend your money.
2. Budget out of entertainment until you are making steady income from your gambling.
Even if someday you hope to make a living gambling, you should budget for it out of your entertainment funds in the beginning.
Why? Because right now, even with all your best intentions, you still are not an expert, and you are still going to be losing more money than you are making.
For that reason, you cannot put essential funds toward gambling. You need to continue using that money to pay your bills and setting aside enough for emergency expenses and savings.
If you do not do this, you may be tempted to look at the money you are losing learning how to gamble as a necessary sacrifice. And maybe it is, but your financial security is not. And if you compromise that, you will compromise any future you might have as a pro gambler too.
3. Set a limit for how much you will transfer into your account each week.
After you calculate your entertainment budget, come up with an actual concrete number for what you can afford to transfer into your online gambling account each week.
Move that money into your account, and no more. Make it a system that you follow religiously, without discretion or decision-making. If you make a commitment to stick with this amount, you will remove some of the temptation to transfer money you cannot afford.
If you run through all those funds, stop gambling until the next week when you can transfer more funds.
What can you do during that time? Many online casinos offer free versions of their games. This is a great way to polish up your skills and maybe even figure out why you are losing money. Who knows—you might even figure out exactly what you need to do to win next week! Isn’t that better than draining your bank account?
4. Set a cap on the amount you will gamble each day and how much you will risk on each spin/hand/etc. Make it consistent.
Just as you should limit how much money you gamble with each week, you also should set daily caps, as well as caps per hand or spin.
Why? You do not want to lose control and gamble all your money in just one day or hour, do you? Then you have that long wait until you can transfer more funds—which may tempt you to cheat and move money you cannot afford into your account.
So set a daily cap on your losses. That ensures you will have money to play with each day of the week.
Setting caps on your spins and hands is wise for a couple of reasons. First of all, it prevents you from blowing through your bankroll on just one spin or round of cards. But it also teaches you valuable money management skills and helps you to stay in the game as long as possible. This may actually increase your overall chances of winning!
5. Consider setting a time limit as well.
For some people who struggle with gambling and self-discipline, the problem is not just that gambling drains money; it is also that it drains time.
This is especially true with online gambling. Even though it is a danger with brick-and-mortar gambling, eventually you will leave the casino and head home. But with online gambling, in a way you are always at the casino.
Before you start playing, decide how many hours a day you are going to spend gambling. Ideally, you should set an unswerving cap each day (maybe you could give yourself some extra time on weekends, but make it consistent).
When you hit your time limit for the day, log out and do not log on until tomorrow.
You might also want to consider setting a cap on how late you gamble—at least if you are susceptible to fatigue influencing your judgments. If you know you will make stupid mistakes gambling while tired, decide on an hour past which you will not gamble any more—even if you still have not hit your time cap.
6. Recognize triggers for going on tilt.
Going on “tilt” is a phrase which refers to losing emotional control while gambling. Gamblers on tilt have shattered their discipline and do not know how to stop what they are doing. When you are on tilt, you can count on one thing, and that is losing money hand over first.
There are common triggers for going on tilt, but your specific triggers may be different from someone else’s. If you can identify your triggers, this can help you to know when it might be time to back off of your gambling for a bit—or at least be very cautious proceeding.
Some common triggers for tilting include:
- Losing a lot of money all at once.
- Dealing with an extended losing streak.
- Winning (yes, a big win can also result in a loss of emotional stability).
- Breaking one of your own rules (a lapse in discipline may set you on a path for additional lapses).
- Being in a bad emotional state for reasons unrelated to gambling.
- Any negative event in your life.
Once you identify your triggers, you can be alert for situations where you might lose control.
7. Learn to recognize signs you are losing emotional control.
Sometimes, though, going on tilt sneaks up on you. Maybe you missed the initial trigger, or perhaps something unexpected or unusual triggered the tilting. Either way, it helps to know your own signs for losing control.
Here are some things you might notice yourself doing which should alert you to a problem:
- You are breaking the rules of any strategies you use for gambling.
- You just exceeded one of the time or money caps you set, and still have not quit.
- You are ignoring other people, responsibilities or activities.
- You feel hyper-focused, screening out everything in your environment.
- You feel stressed out, anxious, flat-out scared, or angry.
If you spot yourself behaving in a way you ordinarily would not while in a level state of mind, you may be on the verge of losing emotional control. Take a break.
8. Avoid gambling when you are upset.
If you woke up this morning on the wrong side of the bed, feeling like the world is against you and nothing is going to go your way, the last thing you should probably be doing is logging onto your online casino account.
Maybe your boss fired you, or your wife cheated on you, or your kid shoplifted. Or it could be something less dramatic: perhaps you just woke up feeling distinctly depressed.
This is the exact state of mind where judgment is likely to lapse. You will want to look for a way to get revenge on the world and prove to yourself that you can come out on top. But this is precisely when you make mistakes, and exactly the kind of time you are liable to go on tilt.
Wait to gamble until you have calmed down and no longer feel like you have something to prove.
9. Do not drink or use drugs while gambling.
This one should go without saying, but it bears a reminder. If you have gambled at brick-and-mortar casinos, you know that there are often discounts on drinks, and quite often, alcoholic beverages are free so long as you play. This is in the casino’s best interest, as it sets you up to make poor calls and lose money.
Drugs and alcohol can be an even bigger temptation at home than they are at land-based casinos considering that your liquor cabinet is right there waiting for you!
So avoid drinking or using drugs while you are gambling. They can impair your judgment, and anytime your judgment is compromised, you are no longer in full control.
10. Take regular breaks.
Finally, one more tip for maintaining control when you are gambling is to take frequent, regularly-scheduled breaks throughout the day. If you plan to gamble for several hours, take a break every 30 minutes (or some other time period that works for you). Get up, walk away from your computer, get some fresh air, and do something else for a few minutes.
Why is this helpful? When you sit and gamble continuously, you can get hyper-focused. When that happens, you can lose track of time. Sometimes that also leads to losing track of money spent, not to mention perspective.
With gambling, you want to be in the zone, not zoned out. Taking regular breaks will ensure that you stay sharp.
Conclusion: Online Gambling Can Be Fun and Profitable So Long As You Stay In Control
Gambling really does not deserve the bad rap that it gets; again, gambling addiction is quite likely not even a real thing. Players engage in seemingly addictive behaviors because they make bad decisions and allow their emotions to sway them. Online in particular, it is easy to lose track of time and expenses, and hard to pull away from the monitor. But if you follow the 10 tips above, you should be able to avoid losing control. When you are in control, your bankroll goes further. You have more fun, and hey—you might even win big!
Keep On Reading More Great Casino Articles