Gambling has a been a favorite activity of people all over the world for hundreds and hundreds of years. The reason for that is simple: gambling is fun. Gambling takes the joy of playing a game and adds stakes, making the whole experience more thrilling and potentially lucrative.
At its best, gambling is good clean fun. There’s nothing inherently wrong with gambling, despite the efforts of some zealots to attack it legally over the years. As society grows more modern, more and more places are legalizing gambling, recognizing it as the perfectly innocent fun that it is.
Of course, like many other fun activities, gambling is not without its dangers. It’s possible to become addicted to gambling, and it’s possible to gamble too much and lose more than you can afford. You’re unlikely to end up with one of these problems, but it never hurts to take precautions. Here’s how to have a healthy mindset while gambling and keep the games fun and safe.
Treat gambling as entertainment
The first thing you can do to protect yourself is to treat gambling like entertainment. This might seem obvious. Gambling is a ton of fun! It’s something you do on vacation! It’s a recreational activity! Why wouldn’t you consider it entertainment?
If you feel this way, good! Remember this if you happen to lose a few games in a row. You’re at the casino (or are gambling online) to have fun, not necessarily to make money.
After all, almost any kind of entertainment – from a baseball game to an opera – will cost you money. You pay for tickets, or for cable TV, or for the equipment you use hiking.
You don’t always pay for gambling, because sometimes you win – and that’s part of what makes gambling so great. But when you do lose a bit, don’t think of that money as purely lost. Instead, think of it as the payment you made in exchange for your entertainment. An attitude like this will leave you more content and help you enjoy gambling more – and it will keep you from throwing good money after bad trying desperately to win back your money. You shouldn’t need to win it back to leave satisfied.
Know your limits
Of course, it’s a lot easier to lose $100 and think “I just paid a fair price for a fun night at the casino” than it is to lose $10,000 and think the same thing. The way to prevent this is to decide how much you can handle losing before you start gambling. Set a budget, and promise yourself that you’ll walk away if you reach your limit. You may end up making money and deciding to walk away with the cash. You may lose money, but at least you won’t lose more than you planned to. Heck, you may even win money and just keep playing until you lose, using your winnings to enjoy even more time at the casino rather than pulling them out and stashing them in the bank. There’s nothing wrong with playing fast and loose with your chips, so feel free to bet big with any that you win that night – the danger comes when you head back to the ATM and pull more from your bank account to keep playing.
Play the odds
Treating gambling like entertainment and planning to lose doesn’t mean that you can’t try to win. Keep in mind that casino games have different odds. Some are sucker’s bets, but others are surprisingly fair. Truly talented players can even become professional gamblers and make a living off of their bets. That’s not a healthy plan for you as a recreational gambler, but you can still take note of the way the pros play and use it in your amateur game. Professional gamblers tend to play cards against other players – you won’t find them on the slots. Look for bets with better odds, and know your best way to win. This will extend the amount of time you can keeping gambling within your budget, helping to remove the temptation to go grab more money because you lost it all too quickly.
It’s important to gamble in a healthy way, but don’t worry. Just as with other reactional activities, the fun outweighs the dangers. Most rock climbers don’t suffer deadly falls and most people drinking beers on their beach vacations don’t become alcoholics – and in the same way, most gamblers have nothing but fun and never face the dangers of gambling addiction. So go out there with the right mindset, and have fun!