At its heart gambling is a very simple concept: you take a chance on Lay Luck and hope she favours your play. Whether you’re in a land-based casino, playing online, betting on the result of a sports match or wagering on who will get to land on Mars first, there are all sorts of factors at play which could see you running you around shouting like a loon because you won or see you running around shouting like a loon because “that stupid striker couldn’t pour water out of a boot with the instructions written on the heel”.
Whatever your flavour of gambling, wherever you find yourself sitting to enjoy some well-earned wagering time, whoever you might be – novice, hobbyist, or professional gambler – it’s always good to take a step back and remind yourself about why we do what we do and what to avoid so we can continue to enjoy our favourite pastime.
The CasinoPlay crew spend hours – days! – at a time checking out online casinos and casino games and we often see or hear stories from gamblers lamenting choices that they’ve made, casinos that have “ripped them off” or games that are just elaborate cons. And many times, with just a little digging, we find that these players have forgotten the basics of responsible gambling, have fallen into the complacency trap, and stopped paying attention to those things which are easily avoidable.
So, as a reminder to ourselves and to other passionate players out there, we recommend you remind yourself about these 5 things every gambler should avoid.
Sometimes you want to try something new. Sometimes the bonus offers just look too good. Sometimes you forget that there are people out there who would rather cheat others out of their money instead of doing an honest day’s work.
It’s the most fundamental rule in gambling: make sure you’re playing with a legitimate partner.
While this looks like a rule that should only apply to online or mobile casinos, there are a lot of brick-and-mortar ‘casinos’ and bookies that are as dodgy as a 3am boerie roll from a cooler box outside a nightclub in downtown Jozi.
But this is especially important in the online and mobile casino world. The Internet is a vast and largely unpoliced place, filled with schemers who want to scam you out of your cash. It’s why we always urge players to make sure they check and verify that the casino they choose is licensed with a recognised and established authority.
If the casino is not up front about their licensing, rather find somewhere else to play.
Big risk for big rewards, right? No. Sure, betting big could mean a big win, but it could also mean your gambling time is very short if you lose.
Gambling is a fun activity, not a retirement plan. For those people who visit a casino on very rare occasions it may seem fun to go and hit the high stakes games and play like there’s no tomorrow – because, for them, there is no tomorrow. They are tourists, out to throw cash and have fun. They will probably not visit a casino again for weeks or months.
For regular players, passionate gamblers, the need to manage your play is paramount. Planning, budgeting, watching your bankroll, these are skills every happy gambler has in spades. And knowing how to bet, when to play low stakes and when to go a little larger, is integral to enjoying the gambling experience and making each session last as long as possible.
And speaking of gambling sessions: managing your time is just as important as managing your money.
Land-based casinos are designed to fool players into spending as much time on the gambling floor as possible. That’s why the vast majority of casinos have no windows, have no clocks on display, use subdued lighting. It creates a false sense of being suspended in time making you play for longer and spend more money.
Online casinos are slightly different. Here the risk is not in being fooled about the time, it is in being engrossed for so long you forget about the world around you.
Time is a weird thing. When you’re sitting in a meeting, an hour can feel like a day. But when you’re online playing your favourite games, hours can feel like minutes.
Always keep an eye on how long you’re playing for. Sitting staring at a screen for hours at a time is not only mentally and physically unhealthy, it can also be expensive. When you’re tired, you make mistakes. And mistakes while you’re gambling lead to monetary losses.
Stand up. Take a walk. Shut the games down for a few hours or even days. It will always be waiting there for when you want to play again.
Alcohol is a big part of the gambling world. Whether you’re socialising with friends over an at-home game of poker, at a live sports event or at a real-world casino, having a drink while gambling is a part of the atmosphere.
It really shouldn’t be.
If you’re serious about your casino playing, avoid alcohol at all costs. Why do you think land-based casinos are happy to comp players a free drink or three? Because it makes you sloppy. It affects your decision making – and rarely if ever for the better.
Booze is the biggest contributor to bad gambling. It leads to mistakes and reckless behaviour, stupid decisions, and lots of lost money.
If you ever get the chance to visit a high stakes card room while the high rollers are playing, have a look at what they’re drinking. Guaranteed it’s not a Long Island Iced Tea. In fact, even those big-name players who we see at the World Series of Poker with a glass of bourbon at their elbow very rarely take a sip from their glass. It’s all for show. When you have millions at stake, you don’t cloud your judgement with a drink.
Avoid the drink and focus on your game.
Every serious gambler knows about the Gambler’s Fallacy: that certainty that something will happen based on a perceived pattern that precedes it. For example, betting on heads in a coin toss because the last ten flips were all tails.
Humans are designed to look for patterns. It’s what kept us alive on the savannahs as we hunter/gathered back in the day. And we put a lot of meaning into what we perceive as patterns.
But gambling is based on one thing, and one thing only: chance. We call her Lady Luck, and we carry symbols and amulets to court her. We perform little rituals to keep her attention. But we never know when she will look away.
There are no patterns in fair casino games. Everything is random. One of the other names for the Gambler’s Fallacy is the Monte Carlo Fallacy, named after an event at the Monte Carlo Casino where the roulette ball landed on black 26 times in a row. Yes, it is extremely uncommon – but then, so is luck.
Go into every game, every spin and hand, with the thinking that this is a completely new event, and you will find you enjoy your games much more. Trying to predict an outcome and then watching as your prediction is wrong time and time again will only lead to sadness and anger. Treating every game as unique and new will keep you playing like it’s your first time – with all the excitement and anticipation that brings.