Managing the Emotional Side of Gambling

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Here in the Smarter Gambling section of Flip The Switch we often talk about tips to get the most out of our gambling sessions, but one area we don’t talk about as often is the emotional side of gambling.

When real money is at stake, it can play with our emotions. Some of us go into casinos with unreasonable expectations (“I’m going to win money today”) vs. ones that are more realistic (“I’m going to have a fun afternoon out”).

When we’re winning, we can feel invincible, and want to play harder. When we lose, we can feel beaten down… and want to play harder.

So today, let’s look at how to keep our emotions in check, by making good decisions when things are going well, as well as when things are going not so well.

When We’re Winning

It can feel like running on a high when we’re winning, but many times we’ll push our bets and when the winning stops, we find ourselves having handed over those winnings – that can be emotionally punishing. So here’s a few ways we can avoid that disappointment.

Set Stop Amounts

If we get up a certain amount, it’s smart to set a point where we’ll cash out, to lock in some of those winnings. By cashing out of a machine, it encourages a pause to consider where things are, a bit of movement to get up and walk around, and hopefully better lock in those profits.

Break Up Big Tickets

Putting a big ticket in the machine can make it tempting to play beyond the amount we wanted to play, or to lose track of what we’re doing and find the money has all disappeared. By breaking a big ticket into smaller bills, it requires us to make decisions on when to keep going and when to stop.

Use a Winner’s Bank

Another way to ensure you go home with money is to lock it away with the key inaccessible while at the casino. A Winners Bank can be a great tool for this, as it encourages you to put some profits away and take it home, regardless of how the rest of the day goes.

When We’re Losing

On the other hand, the emotional torment that can sometimes go with a losing streak is real. The trick is to take steps to manage those emotions and calm down from frustrating parts of a trip.

Set Stop Amounts

One of the best tools for locking in profits can also be one of the best tools for minimizing losses. Set a limit where you cash out if nothing happens. Hold yourself to it instead of chasing losses – it helps slow down your play.

Save Your Free Play

One of our favorite tricks is to not convert free play right away. If we get off to a rough start, we shift to free play for a bit, just so we know we’re not spending our own money for a moment. It can help recalibrate when things get off to a rocky start.

Take Breaks

Get up, walk around, grab a snack, use the bathroom. Removing yourself from the slots for a bit can be a helpful mental clearing moment when things are proving to be challenging. Most importantly, it stops the losses since you’re not gambling for the moment.


When real money’s at stake, the entertainment side of gambling can get lost in the emotional roller coaster of playing. So it helps to give yourself some moments to digest what’s happened and avoid going overboard.

How do you best manage the emotional side of gambling? Share in the comments!

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