It is estimated that Americans lost nearly $117 billion gambling (both legally and illegally) in 2016. While many of those gambling losses were to high rollers with lots of money to burn, there are people who lost money they might not have been able to lose quite as easily. What do you do when you are the one who lost big? How do you cope with a significant loss in gambling? There are steps you can take to minimize your losses moving forward.
Take a Break from Gambling
If your losses are beginning to pile up, then seeking to solve your gambling losses by more gambling is not the answer. While you might shudder at the notion of stopping gambling forever and completely, it is wise to take a break from gambling if you have suffered a large loss. Of course, you can’t just sit around the house if you are “on a break,” you need to get out and get active.
Join an amateur sports team, go to the gym or start a walking or hiking club. You need something to replace the excitement you get from gambling, and physical activity may be just the thing you need to do that. If you are not sure physical activity is the way to go, you can always do something else that would give you excitement: games of strategy, or a hobby, such as building something or gardening. These activities may not give you the thrill gambling does, but it will help you keep your mind off gambling and your losses. Even taking a break for a few months may help your game to improve as time passes.
Figure Out Your Budget
Perhaps part of the reason you lost at gambling and now you feel so horrible about it is that you overspent. It is easy to overspend during the excitement of play. But, if you know how much you can spend ahead of time when your brain is not in the game, this may help you to stay on track.
In order to do this, you will need to prepare a budget and figure out how much money you might be able to spend each month on gambling. Be realistic—don’t spend money on gambling that you don’t have and then get mad at yourself when you can’t pay the cable bill. A bankroll means that you will be able to save small amounts of money you can then use to gamble without taking money from your other expenses.
To make a budget, you will need to know how much money you spend each month on expenses, and how much money you have in revenue. Then, you can decide how much of the money you have left can be spent on gambling. If you know how much you can spend going in, and you are able to stick with it, you will feel better about gambling.
Rethinking Your Gambling Habits
Once you have a budget in mind, you will need to figure out how to get the most bang for your buck with regard to gambling – which means you need to start all over. Go back and study each form of gaming you have tried. Which ones did you have the most success at? Which ones did you lose the most money at? Where were your best performances?
It may be that you need to learn a new game. If you are considering a new game, you need to spend a considerable amount of time perfecting a new strategy. Study the game you want to play, learn it backward and forward, and practice until you are sure you can play well. Once you study and practice, try playing the game with friends for a while. With practice and strategy, you may find that this game is better suited for you than the games you played previously.
Establish Goals for Winning and Losing
If you have decided to go back into the casino, and you have decided to play a different game, the next step is to establish mini-goals for yourself. In other words; what is your limit for games where you are winning? How much do you want to win before you quit for the day? How much can you lose each day before you walk away? You will need to have these goals firmly in your mind before you walk back into a casino. In addition, you may want to spend your time off gambling getting a bankroll together to stake yourself when you decide to start playing again.
In this new frame of mind about gambling, you also need to establish a bank account that is different from your other bank accounts and that is used only for your gambling. If you have separate bank accounts, you won’t be tempted to use money from your other accounts to pay for your gambling. If you stick to using only what’s in your gambling account, then you lose only what you can afford to lose.
Along with this same process, you need to become honest with yourself about the amount of money you have won or lost. Keep a record book of the games you win or lose. There are also computer programs and apps to keep track for you if you don’t want to keep track on paper. If you chart your wins and losses over time, it helps you to figure out if there are any patterns to your wins and losses, and if you play multiple games, which games you are better at.
Learn to Accept Your Losses
One of the marks of a gambler is to learn to live with your losses. Many gamblers take losses personally and can’t shake the fact they are somehow personally responsible for a loss. However, there are always going to be games or hands that don’t go your way, no matter how good of a gambler you are. Accepting your losses and planning for them means when they do occur, you can handle them with clarity and calm. Believe it or not, if you can accept your losses, you’ll make a better gambler, and you will be able to handle both wins and losses more easily.
If You Think You Have a Severe Gambling Problem
If you try to follow these steps and you continue to lose, or you spend a great deal of money chasing your wins or losses, you may have a gambling problem, and you may need to do something other than set goals and make budgets. You may need to get help for a gambling problem.
Lots of agencies can give you help and advice for creating a plan to stop gambling, getting clear of any debt you may have incurred, and creating a plan to remain free from gambling. Some people can quit gambling on their own, but others need help to address their gambling issues. It may be that there are groups in your area you can go to for help to decide if you have a gambling problem. Family members can also receive help and support. While an addiction to gambling is a serious issue, it can be overcome with work and support.
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