Raising the Stakes – The Psychology of Gambling
November 29, 2018
Gambling is a historical practice that has stood the test of time. But in this era where “the house always wins,” why is it that people are still so willing to jump through the flaming hoops in the hopes of being one of the few who sees their investment pay off? Let’s take a look at the mind of a gambler and what casinos do to maximize your desire to keep playing.
Against All Odds
We should all know that the odds aren’t in your favor when you enter a gambling institution. That’s the nature of the beast. But at the same time, there’s the thought that someone in this building has to eventually win a jackpot. What’s stopping it from being you? It’s true that nothing is stopping you from being that person. At the same time, out of the millions of games played in a single day, how many do you play? It’s important to understand that as equal as your odds are compared to your peers, you have a lot of peers.
Missed It by That Much
When you see a huge win just almost in your grasps but it’s whisked away at the last moment, there are a lot of emotions at play here. There’s the usual disappointment from having lost. There’s some adrenaline pulsing through your body as you fantasize the world where you went home with the jackpot. But, there’s also the false impression that because you were close in the previous roll of the dice, that you are somehow owed a victory in the coming games. Always remember that casinos have no escalating odds.
Although incorrectly, it is popularly stated that the definition of insanity is doing something over and over and expecting a different result. With that said, it is quite insane to lose money to random chance and then hope for random chance to give you that money back. And yet, there’s something about that feeling of a big win lurking around the corner that just entices you to play further.
Although gambler’s fallacy is very real, there is at least the slightest amount of logic to believing in it. But, the idea that winning a small amount now is a precursor to a larger win down the road is a purely emotional response with absolutely nothing to back it up. Casinos make even the smallest wins look and sound like you’ve just changed your life. But in reality, losing $20 and winning $5 is still a loss at the end of the day.
A Gambler’s Image
Even beyond the slot machines and tables, there are still factors that bring people out for a night at the casino. Spending time at a casino can be seen as a power move in a way. The unstated implication of going to a casino is that you have money you are willing to lose in exchange for some fun. It functions similarly to how having nice brand-name clothes also implies that you have a large amount of disposable income. Although, dressing well is also a part of casino culture, so it all ties back together.
With all this said, it should be stressed that casinos are not crooked institutions. Casinos are offering you an experience and entertainment in return for your money. You will have nothing tangible to show for your experience at the theater or a water park. Gambling should be seen in a similar fashion. You may have the opportunity to make money through gambling, but you should absolutely not rely on it. Gambling can be a magical time if done responsibly.