Are you avoiding a potentially entertaining hobby because you worry too much?
In this post, I look at the main reasons would-be gamblers worry and what they should do about it.
If you want to start gambling, that’s okay, but you need to make good decisions. In this post, I explain how making good decisions can help you stop worrying and start a carefree gambling hobby.
You Might Worry About Having Enough Money to Gamble
I don’t want to be the guy to tell you how big your income needs to be before you can launch into a gambling hobby. I have friends who gamble even though they qualify for food stamps. They spend $2 a week playing the lottery, and that’s it for them.
This doesn’t mean that gambling when you’re in poverty is a good idea.
In fact, if you’re not making $75,000 a year or more, it’s probably a good idea to forego the gambling hobby until you’ve figured out how to increase your income. This might require asking for a raise, getting a better education, and/or finding another career.
$75,000, though, seems to be the break-even point when it comes to balancing income and happiness. Every dollar you earn over $75,000 creates a much smaller net effect on your overall happiness level than every dollar up to that point.
How you get to a point where you’re earning $75,000 a year is beyond the scope of this article.
But I can tell you this:
If you’ve arranged your life in a way that all your bills are paid, you have all the appropriate levels of insurance, and you’re saving a specific percentage of your income every payday, you might be able to afford to set aside 1% of your income for your gambling hobby.
I don’t think, under any circumstances, you should be willing to gamble more than 1% of your income. That’s how people go broke.
You Might Worry That Gambling Is a Sin
I’m not an expert on any specific religion, and I know that opinions vary from one faith to another about whether gambling constitutes sinning.
I have my own opinion, though, and here it is:
If your morality insists that you should be doing sometime more worthwhile with your money than gambling, so be it. Carry on.
But I’m going to suggest that gambling responsibly is a legitimate form of entertainment comparable to going to the movies or watching television. So long as you’re not cheating anyone out of money that should be theirs, I don’t think you’re going anything wrong.
You Might Worry That You Don’t Know How to Play
I don’t recommend going into a casino without a basic understanding of how to play the casino games, but here’s the good news:
Most casino games can be learned in less than five minutes.
You can find tutorials for how to play every casino game you can imagine right here on this site, but you can also play free demo versions on your computer by visiting any of the real money online casinos we recommend here.
You don’t even have to risk your own money.
With most casino games, the house has a mathematical edge that you can do nothing about. Other games, like blackjack and video poker, require some knowledge on the part of the player.
But this knowledge is easy to get and understand. Just spend some time surfing the web, reading, and then playing some games for free on your computer.
You Might Worry That the Casinos Cheat
My dad was always convinced that the casinos cheated. They sort of cheat, but not in the way he thought. They just pay out bets at odds that are lower than the odds of winning. In the long run, statistics and math make it impossible for the casino to lose and impossible for the player to win.
But you’re not interesting in the long run, anyway.
This would almost have to be the case, in fact, or no one with any sense at all would continue to gamble in casinos.
But casinos don’t control the outcomes of specific games. The dice are random, the roulette wheel offers you a 1/38 probability of hitting a specific number, and slot machines are entirely random, too. The blackjack dealer isn’t a card mechanic, either.
The casino doesn’t have to cheat to win. The math behind the games ensures that they’ll win.
You Might Worry That It’s Impossible to Win
As I mentioned in my last point, it is impossible to win in the long run at almost every casino game there is. The casino pays out less in winnings than the odds of winning warrant, so they’re going to win money in the long run no matter what. If you play a negative expectation game long enough, you’ll certainly go broke.
This doesn’t mean you can’t have winning sessions at the casino or even entire winning trips to the casino. In the short run, people win all the time. That’s what keeps them returning to the casino to gamble again.
You can even win money sports betting if you get savvy enough.
So don’t avoid gambling just because you think it’s impossible to win. That’s simply not true. It’s entirely possible to win.
You Might Worry About Impulse Control
I know a lot of recovering alcoholics and drug addicts. I’ve been to the casino with some of them. Many of them shouldn’t be gambling because they just don’t have the impulse control that other people have been blessed with.
Alcoholics and drug addicts have this in common:
They’ve changed their brain chemistry by abusing substances for so long that they’re more eager to change their dopamine levels than the average person.
And if there’s one thing we know about gambling, it’s this:
It has a distinct, measurable affect on brain chemistry – especially as it relates to dopamine.
I respect that decision. I’ve seen friends of mine blow entire paychecks at the casino and been unable to pay their rent afterward.
You don’t want to be that guy, for sure.
Also, I don’t know of any programs that teach people how to gamble moderately. I’ve seen programs for people who want to learn how to drink moderately, but I have no personal experience with how well they work.
If you want to start a support group for people who want to learn how to gamble moderately, you have my blessing.
But I still think absolute abstinence might be your best option if you think your impulse control problems might interfere with your ability to gamble responsible.
You Might Worry About Unhealthy Behaviors
One thing about casinos to remember:
They’re not there to encourage you to be healthy.
In fact, almost everything about casinos encourages you to engage in unhealthy behaviors. I don’t drink anymore, but I can see how spending time at a casino might encourage that behavior. After all, the drinks are free if you’re gambling.
I like to think that having been sober for 6+ years might help me avoid that drink, but that could be wishful thinking.
But even if I avoid the drinks, I’m a sucker for a good buffet.
Basically, casino destinations like Vegas encourage you to revel in “sinning” behaviors. I don’t judge these behaviors from a moral perspective, but I encourage you to consider the health consequences of such behaviors.
How do you stop worrying and start gambling?
The first step is to make sure you can afford to gamble. The next step is to educate yourself about the gambling options you have available to you.
You should also engage in various forms of risk analysis to decide if gambling is something you should be doing at all. For many people, it’s best abstained from altogether.