Gambling is a fun hobby.
It gives you a chance to escape. You can forget about work and other obligations you might not be so excited about. It’s sort of like watching TV, or playing video games, but with the possibility of winning money.
Sounds great, yeah? It is – but only if you do it right.
Do it wrong and gambling will consume your life. Think Gollum, but with a slot machine instead of a ring.
Now, I’m no Moses, but I’d like to think the rules I’ve come up with below will not only allow you to have a great time gambling online or off, but will increase your chances of coming out the other side in one piece.
Does that sound good to you? Then repeat after me:
Simple stuff here. Think about it like this –
You’re not supposed to drive while high or drunk because drugs and alcohol impair your ability to think and react. You become a danger to yourself and those around you when you’re under the influence.
If that’s the case, why the heck would you gamble while intoxicated? If you can’t think or react, chances are you’re going to do something stupid – like blow your rent betting it all on red.
Okay, what you do might not be ‘put your house up for collateral’ stupid, but you might forget the rules of the game you’re playing or tell everyone the cards you’re holding. Not life altering mistakes, by far, but still pretty stupid nonetheless.
Now, I’m not saying you can’t have a drink or two while playing cards. By all means, loosen up and have a good time, but the point is you want to ride or stay behind the line separating buzz, having a good time… and sloppy and stupid drunk.
Let’s use another driving analogy.
What do you think would happen if someone didn’t know the rules of the road? What if they didn’t know that ‘red’ means stop and ‘green’ means go?
Now, while not nearly as serious or severe as an accident, a similar thing will happen if you don’t know the rules of the game you’re playing.
Chances are you’ll lose money because you did something wrong that led the dealer to folding/taking your hand. Or, maybe something bad enough that got you kicked out – like counting cards playing blackjack online.
The point – you want to know the rules – which includes the rules of the casino and the rules of the games you’re playing. And you should know them before you whip out the plastic.
For example, a few things you want to know include:
And so on. Otherwise you’re bound to needlessly lose money, possibly even your account.
In other words, don’t gamble with money you’re supposed to use for something else – such as paying your mortgage, auto loan or school lunches.
Gambling is a game most people lose playing. So, knowing that, why would you risk money that’s supposed to put a roof over your head, food on the table or get you from point A to B?
Sheer stupidity, that’s why.
Another way to look at it – gambling is a form of entertainment, like going to the movies. Would you risk your rent money on popcorn and a movie?
Most people would scoff and say “no way, that’s dumb.” So why would you think it’s okay to do it with gambling?
Gambling to recover losses is silly. Every house game is setup so players lose in the long run. There’s a reason you lost your money in the first place.
But, for some reason, people get it in their head that the next time will be different. Or, that they only have to get lucky once. Or, that they have this new fool-proof strategy.
Hate to burst your bubble, but nope – that’s not true at all.
For that reason, you should view every dollar you spend as money lost. If you win some money, great – seriously – but never lose sight of the fact that every dollar wagered is as good as gone.
For that reason, you should never try to recoup your losses. Because chances are you’re only going to lose more money in the process.
Which is how it works out for most people who try.
I view gambling sort of like how I view food – it’s good in moderation.
But when you do something out of boredom, it usually leads to unwanted side effects. If you eat whenever you’re bored, you’ll get fat. If you gamble when you’re bored, the best-case scenario is you’ll lose money.
The worst-case scenario? You’ll gamble to relieve boredom, which strips away all the fun. This also sounds like someone heading down the dark and twisted path that leads to addiction.
Do you have to lie to people about whether or not you gamble? Then you have a problem – either a gambling addiction, relationship problems, or both. You shouldn’t have to lie if neither of those are a concern.
Only you will know which is which. But if you’re concerned that addiction might be the problem, here are some other signs to look for:
If this sounds like you, we encourage you to read our article on problem gambling, which includes information on how to get help.
Most casino games’ odds are stacked against you. So why not take every opportunity you can to reduce the houses’ edge?
Like learning basic strategy.
Basic strategy is an optimal way of playing a particular game. You learn what hands to play, when to play them, and often when and how to size your bets.
Blackjack is a great example of a game that has a basic strategy. It’s not enough to eliminate the house edge, nor will it reduce it as much as learning to count cards will. But basic strategy is FAR easier to learn than counting cards.
Many casinos even give you cards with basic strategy printed on it – which they let you use while playing.
You can also find basic strategy for most games online (some you’ll find on this site). Either way you go, the fact is you hate money if you don’t learn and use basic strategy whenever the casinos let you.
It may only shave a few percentage points of the house edge, but every point adds up. Especially over the long run if you’re someone who bets hundreds or thousands of dollars per round.
It’s one thing if you join an online casino not knowing they’re going to take advantage of you. That’s not your fault.
But some players want to gamble so badly, or want this or that huge bonus so badly, that they’ll sign up regardless of the site’s reputation.
I mean, think about it. If a site has a reputation for fixing their games or not paying their customers, what makes you think they’ll treat you fairly? What makes you think they won’t take your deposit and run?
The truth is, they won’t. And there’s no shortage of horror stories online proving this point.
Honestly, if you break this rule, you’re beyond help …and you should get your head checked at your earliest convenience.
It’s one thing if you’re only visiting a casino. You’re only planning to gamble once or twice, or for whatever reason you won’t ever be back to a particular casino.
If that’s you, feel free to ignore the following.
For everyone else, if you’re a casino regular, you’re leaving EASY money on the table by not taking them up on their VIP or cash back programs.
The simpler programs give you points for every $1 or $10 you spend. After you earn a few points, you can turn them in for cash back. For something you were going to do already.
Other casinos will also offer you perks for those points. Save up your points and you can get free and faster cash outs, free trips, larger bonuses, better points to cash back ratios, and more.
Again, for something you were going to do regardless.
So, if you know you’re going to play regularly, you might as well get something extra for it. Which, by the way, can offset your losses. It makes your gambling cheaper and/or prolongs how long you can play.
This also means that, if the room or casino you’re playing at doesn’t have a VIP program, that you stop playing there and find a casino or site that does ASAP.
Bonuses are great. It’s (almost) free money you can gamble and (potentially) win lots of money with. And, it’s one of the things that make online gambling better than offline gambling.
But bonuses come with terms. You need to fulfill these terms or else there will be consequences. Usually you won’t be able to cash out and/or your winnings will be voided.
The point – if you’re going to accept a bonus or promotion, you’ll want to follow the casino’s rules. And that’s only feasible if their terms are reasonable.
This is harder to figure out if you haven’t done a lot of gambling online. It’s much easier and much faster to read our reviews instead – where we’ll tell you which casinos, sportsbooks and poker rooms have good bonuses (and terms), and which you should avoid at all costs.
Because, if you’re not careful, you’ll get anchored down to a bonus where you’ll have to wager tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars BEFORE you can cash any money out.
If you have an unlimited source of funds, you’re mega rich or the founder of some new tech startup – you can ignore this rule.
But most people don’t …and aren’t …so pay attention.
And even if you have a large budget it’s not a bad idea to set limits for yourself. A max amount of money you allow yourself to gamble per session, day, trip or whatever works for you.
The reason why you want a stop loss is because, if anything, it’s easy to get caught up in the moment and overspend. You might spend money you don’t have. Or, you might find yourself saying ‘it’s only $xx more dollars’ as you try to chase your losses.
Having a stop loss – having a plan – makes it easy to spend only what you can afford to lose gambling. Because you should plan to lose every dollar you set aside.
The bottom line – having a stop loss keeps you honest.
Gambling too long without taking a break is akin to gambling while intoxicated – your brain gets too tired to think properly. So, you put yourself at risk of doing things you might not otherwise, like chase losses, gamble with money you don’t really have or making (bad) plays that go against basic strategy.
Everyone’s different, but I recommend getting up and stretching every 30 or 60 minutes. Take a walk, get some water, use the bathroom, etc. And, if you’re gambling live and don’t want to lose your machine, sometimes you can ask an employee to hold the machine for you (for a few minutes) until you come back.
It’s okay to walk away with money in your pocket. Seriously.
I know, I know – you’re on a hot-streak.
But nothing beats the feeling of walking away with money in your pocket. Walking away knowing the casino didn’t get your every last dollar.
And if you walk away ahead – if you walk away with more money than you sat down with? Then you did something few people do:
You beat the casino. At least for now
I’ve said this a few times already, but let me say it again:
I want to make that very clear. Because at some point you’re probably going to come across an advertisement that promises to show you how you can beat the house. And for a low, low price of only $19.95.
Forget the absurdity of selling casino-beating-secrets for $19.95. If they were truly good and profitable secrets, you’d be paying an arm and a leg for them.
The point I want to take away is that there’s nothing – absolutely NOTHING – you can do or use to beat the house at most of their games. They’re designed to favor the house. Otherwise, the house wouldn’t offer them.
There are exceptions, of course. You can learn how to cheat. You can also learn how to count cards.
Other than that, though, there’s nothing you can buy to improve your odds gambling. So don’t waste your money on products that say otherwise.
Use that money for gambling instead.
This is the simplest rule on this list to follow.
If you ever get to a point where you’re no longer having fun, you should stop gambling immediately. It should be something you enjoy doing, like a hobby.
Because – as I’ve said over and over again – you’re going to lose money gambling. So you might as well enjoy yourself in the process.
And if you follow rules 1-14 above, that won’t be all that hard to do.