Many people believe that gambling is nothing more than a waste of time and money, but the truth is that wagering in a casino or online can be a cheap source of quality entertainment. However, much like with any other adult pass-time, gambling can become a source of serious problems if practiced in an irresponsible manner.
If you find gambling interesting and you’d like to try playing at one of the numerous sites available all over the web, you should learn the basic rules first. Furthermore, you have to make sure that you know how to avoid the dangers of gambling and minimize your losses, which will allow you to enjoy the games to a larger extent and maybe even earn some money on the side.
Believe it or not, but there are thousands of absolutely ordinary people who enjoy gambling. In fact, the vast majority of the customers of both online casinos and land-based gambling establishments are no different from the people you’d be passing on the street.
This shouldn’t be surprising once you realize that gambling is very similar to going to a cinema or some kind of an amusement park – you pay in exchange for entertainment. The only real difference is the fact that gambling allows you to win money, which is a huge draw for many people. After all, who doesn’t want to be rich?
However, one of the keys to enjoying yourself at a casino is expecting to lose – if you end up parting with some cash, you definitely shouldn’t feel surprised or cheated. If most players were winners, the casinos simply wouldn’t be able to sustain their business.
There’s no denying the fact that being too focused on winning may lead to many complications, which include developing undesirable behavior patterns or even a gambling addiction. If you want to keep your gambling healthy, think of your losses as a way of thanking the casino for allowing you to have a good time.
Why do people gamble?
If players should expect to lose, then why gamble at all?
For starters, gambling can be ridiculously cheap, especially if you stick to playing the lowest stakes in the games that have the lowest house edge. Following the right betting strategy in a typical table game and betting $1 each round will usually cost you less than $2 every hour, which means that it will be significantly cheaper than going to the cinema or visiting a club.
Even betting $5 every round usually won’t cost you more than $10 an hour, but keep in mind that an extremely lucky or unlucky streak is always a possibility, which means that you should never bet more than you can afford.
Another reason why people enjoy gambling is the fact that many games require a fair bit of strategizing, which means that actually mastering them might be a very challenging and rewarding experience in itself. Anyone can play Video Poker or Blackjack, but following the proper strategies requires complete focus and a lot of practice. You’ll be able to see your results gradually improve, which means that once you become proficient you will start turning a profit from time to time.
Quite obviously, getting the adrenaline rush that comes with taking risks or enjoying the social side of the games can also be a huge factor. Furthermore, numerous psychological studies indicate that the activities that come with inconsistent rewards are significantly more appealing than the ones that have predictable results – and as we all know, gambling is all about taking chances and putting yourself in uncertain situations without letting the risk spiral out of control.
What are the risks of gambling?
Unfortunately, the rush that people experience when gambling can be quite addictive, which means that many players are joining the games because of a compulsive need instead of a conscious decision to have some fun. Quite obviously, this kind of behavior can be very harmful, especially since many problem gamblers might persist in gambling even after repeated losses.
Even worse, problem gamblers are the kind of people that are least likely to follow proper strategy, erroneously believing that the strings of defeats they suffered in the past will lead them to a string of wins and a massive payout that will allow them to stop. It’s also interesting to point out that the reasons for this kind of behavior may have nothing to do with actual predispositions or the casino environment – in fact, many prescription drugs are known to encourage gambling behavior, particularly some of the ones used to treat Parkinson’s Disease or Clinical Depression.
Thankfully, even the individuals that developed a particularly nasty gambling habit can fight their addiction, especially with the help of proper treatment. In most cases, problem gamblers are advised to seek counseling, enroll in step-based or peer-support programs, use self-help techniques or apply a combination of these.
What are the different ways that I can gamble?
There are an almost infinite amount of ways to gamble and the casinos alone offer numerous gambling games such as Slot Machines, Roulette, Craps, Baccarat, Blackjack and Video Poker. Each of the popular casino games has numerous variations, which means that virtually every major online casino is more than likely to provide you with plenty of quality entertainment regardless of your personal preferences.
Obviously, online gambling isn’t limited to casino games, as gambling enthusiasts have plenty of great poker rooms, bingo sites, and skill game sites to choose from. If you’re interested in sports, you will undoubtedly find that placing an actual bet on your favorite team makes watching the game all the more exciting and immersive, especially since many sports betting sites allow you to place your wagers both before the event and while the match is in progress.
The same holds true for horse racing. In fact, some people would even consider investing a form of gambling – but it’s always important to remember that with traditional gambling you should almost always expect to lose, while with investing you should definitely expect to turn a profit.
Am I really guaranteed to lose? What are my odds of winning and losing?
As mentioned above, the house has the edge in all casino games, which means that the probability of you winning is always lower than 50%. The more you play, the more likely you are to approach the “return-to-player rate” specific to the game you played (typically 92-98% of total money wagered).
However, that doesn’t mean that you’re guaranteed to lose – in fact, if the house edge is 5%, than you have a 45% chance of winning each time you place a bet. If you care about getting the biggest bang for your buck, you should definitely stick to games with the lowest house edge.
For example, European Roulette has a house edge of 2%, because whether you bet on red or black you’ll always lose if the ball lands on 0. Slots on the other hand can have a house edge of up to 15% depending on the machine in question, which means that playing this kind of games can get ridiculously expensive, especially since they’re quite fast paced when compared with the traditional table games.
However, it’s important to remember that not every game has a negative expected value – in fact, numerous poker variants like Texas Hold’em or Omaha can be played for profit, because the outcome of each hand is determined by skill. In this case, the house wins by collecting rake, but whether the pot will go to you or someone else is determined more by your performance than luck.
In fact, the same principle applies to certain casino games that require you to follow proper strategy – obviously, you won’t negate the house edge, but the better you play, the closer to the lowest possible house edge you’ll get.
Do betting systems work?
Betting systems are often advertised to tilt the odds in your favor, but in most cases the people making such statements will want your money in return for a plan to defeat the casino. Unfortunately, all those offers are nothing more than blatant scam attempts – while a betting plan might seem to work in the short term, your long term results aren’t going to overcome the house edge.
In fact, progressive systems that require you to increase your bet after a loss are very dangerous, as they increase your chance of ruin. For example, the well-known Martingale Betting System would have you double your bet after each loss, so that the next time you win, you recover your money. The problem is that the fact that you lost the previous bet doesn’t mean that you’ll win the next one – and if you lose a number of wagers in a row, you’ll simply run out of the money necessary to place the next one.
Using a betting system might be fun for a while, but never lose sight of the bigger picture – if you start feeling annoyed and playing in an aggressive manner, simply walk away from the game or take a break and start anew, preferably at a slower pace.
How much should I bet?
The basic principle of proper money management is to decide how much money you’re willing to lose before you start playing the games. You shouldn’t assume that you’ll have any of that money left, because you basically can’t prevent a string of nasty losses. Once you’re done setting your budget, you should decide whether you’re planning to enjoy yourself, have a long gambling session and place small bets, or go for the high-risk, high-reward approach.
Quite obviously, in both cases you’d be dealing with the same house edge and consequently the same expected loss, but the latter method gives you a chance to actually turn some profit thanks to variance. Basically, the more bets you place, the more likely your results are to reflect the edge the casino has. However, if you place a single, massive bet, your odds of turning short term profit actually improve as long as you set a realistic winning goal and stop playing as soon as you reach it.
How do taxes on gambling winnings work?
Depending on your local gambling laws, playing at an online casino may actually carry significant tax consequences if you manage to win. If you’re living in the European Union you have no reason to worry about that, as your winnings will most probably be tax-free – but if your government decided to tax casino winnings, you should properly report them in order to avoid the possible penalties.