The most important section on this page is the first one below. It can be dangerous to use gambling as an escape, and many players end up making things worse when they do. Make sure you read the dangers of using gambling as an escape section before you read the rest of the page.
I understand. Sometimes the world throws things at you that can be demoralizing, and sometimes it feels like you’re being crushed. If you’re like me and like to gamble, it’s tempting to lose yourself in a gambling activity to forget about everything else in the world for a little bit.
Of course, if you take this too far or do it too often it can lead to more problems. On the other hand, if you can use gambling as an escape in a smart way, it can work exactly the way you want it to. The key to being able to gamble as an escape is to always be in control.
The best way to start being in control is to make a plan. The next step is to stick to the plan no matter what. When you don’t have a plan, or don’t stick to the plan you have, gambling as an escape can be dangerous. If you’re not using a plan, or can’t stick to your plan, it’s time to seek some outside help.
Read the dangers of escape gambling in the next section first. In the sections after the dangers section, I give you 5 ways to use gambling as an escape in a smart way. One of the sections even shows you how you might be able to use gambling as an escape more often, by learning how to play the right games using the right strategies.
Dangers of Using Gambling As an Escape
I’m not a medical professional and I’m not a psychologist. If you gamble as a way to escape from something, you need to figure out why. Some people can gamble and stay within their limits and budget and enjoy many mindless hours. But some people can’t, and when this happens it can destroy lives.
If you find yourself gambling to escape, find a qualified professional that can help you figure out why you do it, and can help you determine if it’s safe. This page isn’t designed for people that need help. If you need help, go get it right now. If you want to find out how to spot a problem and get help, this page is a good place to start.
This page is for people who can control gambling and use it as a way to forget about other things without it hurting any other area of their life. The sections below give you a road map of how to use gambling as an escape in a smart way. They are in no way a replacement or substitute for professional help. I’m not offering clinical or medical advice in any way.
1 – Set a Time Limit
One of the best ways to reduce the risk of gambling too much when you’re looking for an escape is to set a time limit. Casinos are designed in a way that tries to make gamblers forget about time. Casinos usually don’t have any windows because they don’t want you to think about how long you gamble.
If you’re like most people, you carry around a smart phone. Smart phones have clocks, and most of them have a way to set an alarm. When you sit down to start gambling set an alarm on your phone. When the alarm goes off stop gambling immediately and leave the casino.
When you combine a time limit with a budget, which I cover in the next section, you’re taking control of your gambling. The way to gamble safely is to get control and keep it.
2 – Set a Budget
If you set a gambling budget and follow it you take control of how much you can lose. You should never gamble with money you can’t afford to lose, including the mortgage payment, rent, electric bill money, money for food, and money for other basic needs. But when you have entertainment money or extra money you can use it to gamble if you want.
Figure out how much money you have that you can afford to lose every week or month and then divide it by the number of days you’re going to gamble. If you have $100 a week you can gamble with and want to gamble two times, you set a budget of $50 each time you gamble.
If you get lucky and win, you can add the win to your gambling budget, but you never lose more than the budget. It’s easy to be tempted to go over your budget, especially when you’re having a good time. But there’s no reason to have a budget if you don’t follow it. I go over this more in the rules section below, and even give you a system to help you stay in budget every time you gamble.
You only need a budget if you lose. In the next section you can learn how to play games that make your budget last longer, and a couple ways you might be able to gamble for as long as you want without destroying your budget.
3 – Play Smart
The ultimate answer to using gambling as an escape in a safe way is to figure out how to win. I’m not talking about getting lucky and winning sometimes. I’m talking about figuring out which games you can beat on a consistent basis and doing everything you can to beat them.
If you learn how to play poker at a high level and can make $20 an hour at the tables on average, you can probably afford to escape by playing poker as much as you want. A few gambling games can be beat in the long run, and a few others give you the opportunity to play close to a break even game. Even if you have to play a game with a long term edge against you, if you play the right games for low stakes it doesn’t cost you too much money.
One of the best games in the casino for players looking for an escape who don’t want to use any strategy or think about what they’re doing is baccarat. You make table minimum bets and always bet on the banker hand and you never have to think about anything. The dealer takes care of everything in the game and you’re playing with a house edge of just a hair over 1%. This is a cheap form of entertainment, and sometimes you’re going to hit a lucky streak and win. This is a much better option than slot machines for several reasons.
Baccarat has a house edge of half, or less, than slot machines. You also play far fewer hands per hour at the baccarat table than you take spins on the slots.
Another good option is the pass line bet on the craps table. The house edge is less than 2% and it often takes several rolls for the bet to be settled. This reduces the amount you risk every hour, which reduces your long term losses.
If you want to have a realistic chance to win on a consistent basis you need to focus on poker or blackjack. You can learn how to win at a few more gambling activities, like horse racing, dog racing, sports betting, daily fantasy sports betting and esports betting, but they don’t have as clear of a path towards profits or breakeven play as poker and blackjack.
Don’t get me wrong; it’s not easy to learn how to be a winning blackjack player or winning poker player. But there are specific steps you can follow, and if you’re willing to do the correct things you can learn how to win.
To be a winning poker player it’s actually quite simple. Find opponents who don’t play as well as you do, and you’re going to win more than you lose. The more you improve your skills, the easier it is to find players who aren’t as good as you.
Blackjack isn’t as simple, and many players that follow the advice I’m getting ready to give you don’t end up winning much in the long run. But if you follow this advice you have a good chance of breaking even at the blackjack tables.
The first step is easy; simply learn about the rules variations and how to find a good game. The next step is to get a strategy card and use it when you play. These two things can help you find games with a house edge of a half percent or less. This makes blackjack one of the best games in the casino.
The final step is to learn card counting works, picking a system, and using it when you play. Even a simple system, when used correctly, can make blackjack a break even game.
One other option for playing low house edge games is video poker. You have to use a strategy card and find machines with good pay tables, but if you do and collect comps for your play you can play for a very low hourly cost. You aren’t going to beat the video poker machines, but if you find good machines, make low bets, and use a strategy card you can play for a few bucks an hour on some machines.
4 – Set Your Rules and Never Break Them
For many years I set goals and tried to reach them. Sometimes I succeeded and sometimes I failed. I was trying to do everything using my willpower, and often I found that this simply didn’t work. I made poor choices that hurt my chances to succeed.
I read a book quite a while back and it had a section about instead of trying to use your willpower, set up a system of rules. As you learn more and your life changes, you add to your rules and adjust the ones that need adjusted. If you’re able to build a good set of rules, it can powerfully transform your life.
This might not make sense, but it made a big difference in how I get things done. And the rules don’t have to be big or complicated.
Here’s an example:
One rule I made was that I only drink water. I’ve tried to avoid drinking pop and other things for years, but I often slipped up. Now the rule is I never drink anything but water, so I just follow the rule. My willpower is sometimes weak, but when I make a rule it’s a 100% commitment. If I can’t follow the rule, I don’t write it down.
This is how you must handle your gambling if you ever gamble for an escape. You have to set your rules and you have to never break them no matter what. In the two sections above about setting a time limit and setting a budget, I suggested that you make these two things a priority.
Now I want you to use these two things to start your own set of rules. Take out a piece of paper and pen or open a new document on your computer or phone and write two rules down. Write one dealing with your time limit and one dealing with your gambling budget.
Rule one: I never gamble more than one hour a day.
Rule two: I never lose more than $50 a day gambling.
Now you have two rules that protect you from gambling too much and losing too much money. All you have to do is commit 100% to your rules and follow them no matter what.
Don’t discount the power in setting rules until you try it. It might seem like the same thing, but you’ve been trained your entire life that breaking rules is bad. Use this programming to help you keep your escape gambling under control.
As you come up with new ways to improve your gambling and your life, add new rules to your list. Take a minute and read your rules every day, and when you’re tempted to do something you know you shouldn’t do, simply follow your rules.
5 – Channel Your Desires
I admit that I’ve gambled as a way to escape from the stress of everyday life in the past. But I’ve been fortunate enough to learn how to channel the desire for escape into other areas. One way I’ve been able to do this is by reading about my favorite gambling games and doing research about them.
Instead of gambling for three or four hours to escape, I can read a book about my favorite game for an hour or two and use it to escape. This has two benefits; it reduces the amount of time I gamble to escape and it helps me play better when I do gamble, which can reduce my losses.
I’m not saying that you should read, because you might not be able to get lost in a good book like I do. But if you can, it’s a great way to learn a new skill while filling your need to escape for a few hours. Of course, you still need to consider the cost of what you replace gambling with.
If I spend $20 on a book it’s still a cost. If you play slots and some other casino games you might lose more than the cost of a book every hour. But if you’re a good poker player of blackjack player, the book might cost more than playing.
Make a list of other things you can do that help you escape. Some people start meditating and find it helps. Others enjoy taking a walk and enjoying nature. I know some people who buy a lottery ticket for a couple dollars and can get hours of escape thinking about what they’re going to do with the money if they win.
Keep building your list and trying new things. You don’t have to stop gambling, but you can find a few things that can help you escape for a few minutes that don’t cost you money.
Escape gambling can be a real problem for some people. Of course, some other means of escape can be just as bad or worse. Some people drink too much to escape, and some people use drugs to escape. Others go to the movies or read a book. Everyone that tries to find a means of escaping something in their life can take it too far.
You might not think going to the movies or reading books can be bad, but if you do them too much it can have negative consequences. What if you start missing work because you decide to stay home and read instead?
Finding a way to escape the everyday stress of life can be a good thing. You need to take a break sometimes to recharge your body and mind. The secret is taking control of whatever method or methods you use to escape.
Use the five smart ways to use gambling as an escape listed above and you’re always going to have a plan, and more importantly, you’re always going to be in control. You might even be able to learn how to gamble in a way that lets you escape more.