Most people don’t need a reason to gamble. They either gamble, or they don’t.
Some people, usually based on religious beliefs, believe that gambling is wrong or evil in some way.
But others simply aren’t interested in games of chance.
On the other end of the spectrum are the people who gamble too much or lose too much money at the casino. The good news is that the majority of gamblers don’t have a gambling problem.
If you don’t gamble but are interested in reasons why you might start, the 7 reasons to gamble in the first section below gives you several good reasons to try your luck from time to time.
If you already gamble, the final section gives you 3 reasons to stop.
Good Reasons to Gamble
Many people believe that the only reason to gamble is to try to win money. While this is a good reason to play, most of these same people don’t actually do everything they can to win.
I cover more about this in one of the sections below.
Gambling offers other good reasons to play as well, and these are all covered in this section.
1 – Entertainment
Gambling can be entertaining, just like a trip to the movies, show, play, restaurant, or ball game. Almost every form of entertainment costs money.
And in most cases you don’t have any chance to end the outing with more money than you started with.
But when you gamble you have a chance to win.
While it isn’t a large amount to gamble with, let’s say you spend $100 enjoying another form of entertainment. You could use the $100 to play at the casino, place a few bets on a ball game, or play poker. Depending on your skill, luck, and the bet sizes, you could enjoy hours of fun gambling and win sometimes.
If you play online, you can find casinos with bets as low as $1 on table games. Most land based casinos have minimum bets of $5 or higher on table games.
But even at $5 a bet, you can play blackjack, craps, baccarat, or roulette for a long time unless you hit a particularly bad streak.
Video poker and slot machines offer good options for gamblers on a budget. You can often find machines that have a minimum bet of a quarter if you look around.
Just make sure you don’t play too fast on gaming machines, because it’s possible to play 500 spins per hour or more.
If you enjoy sporting events, you can place four or five bets of $20 on different games instead of going out. You can watch the games and root for the teams you bet on.
Playing poker instead of going out to a movie or out to eat might be a little more challenging on the same budget.
But many poker rooms have a low buy in game available, or you can put on your own poker night with a low buy in for family and friends.
Consider planning a trip to your local casino in place of your regular entertainment to see if you like it. While casinos are set up to win more than they lose over time, you can win more than you lose sometimes.
2 – To Win
Every gambler wants to win, but casinos wouldn’t exist if they didn’t make money. In the long run, the casino makes money. This means that most gamblers lose in the long run.
But some gamblers are able to beat the odds and actually make money.
These people are usually called advantage gamblers.
The biggest problem with succeeding as an advantage gambler is it requires quite a bit of work. If you think work will interfere with your entertainment, it’s ok, but then you have to accept the fact that you’re going to lose in the long run.
On the other hand, if you’re willing to put in some extra effort, you can learn how to play certain games with a real chance to win.
Even if you can’t get to the point where you can win consistently, you can play at close to break even. If you can gamble at a break even level you can still come out ahead by earning comps. I discuss comps in a section later, but even without them, if you can enjoy gambling for as long as you want and not lose money, it’s a solid entertainment value.
The gambling activities you want to focus on if you want to play break even or better are:
- Sports betting
- Video poker
Poker is one of the few gambling games where you don’t play against the house. You compete against the other players, and the poker room takes a rake from each pot. The rake is a real cost, but if you learn how to be a better player than your opponents, you can win enough to beat the rake and hopefully turn a profit.
Sports betting is usually done against a sportsbook, which makes money by charging a small amount, called vig, to place bets. This shows up as betting 110 to win 100. When you win you get back the 110 and the win or 100, but when you lose you lose 110. If you can pick winners 52.38% of the time with a 10% vig, you can break even. If you can pick winners at a higher percentage, you make money in the long run.
Blackjack games have a wide range of rules that can differ from table to table. Some of these rules are better than others, and if you know what to look for, you can play games that offer a house edge of less than a half percent. You have to use basic strategy to keep the edge low, but it’s not hard to learn.
But you can also learn how to count cards to swing the edge in your favor. Even a simple counting system can overcome the small house edge.
And most people can learn how to count cards, because you don’t have to remember each card. You just add or subtract one from a count and raise or lower your bet based on the count.
A small number of video poker games offer an edge to the player–if they play with perfect strategy. These machines are rare, but a few exist. More video poker machines are available with a house edge of less than a half percent, and playing one of these machines using perfect strategy while earning comps can get them close to break even. A Deuces Wild or Jacks or Better machine with a good pay table is a good place to start.
You can also play a few other games that offer a low house edge where comps can help make them close to a break even game. You’re still going to lose in the long run, but you can keep your losses relatively small and earn some nice comps while playing.
These games include:
If you play baccarat stick with the banker bet. And at the craps table, only play the don’t pass line and the odds bet.
3 – Social Interaction
The internet has created many ways to increase social interaction, but most of them still aren’t the same as spending time face to face or in a close area with others. In a land based casino you can find people of all types.
Walk through a casino and see all of the people playing slots while chatting with the player on the machine beside them and see how the players at a busy craps table are cheering for each other.
If you want to meet new people and spend a few hours interacting with real people take a trip to the casino. Even if there aren’t many other players, the dealers are usually nice and will visit with you while you play.
4 – Build Math Skills
Though most people don’t think about gambling in terms of math, the truth is that every gambling game is based on mathematics. From adding your total in blackjack to determining how many outs you have at the poker table, math is an important skill while gambling.
Math is also an important skill in everyday life. We carry around phones that have calculators on them, but you should be able to figure out if you’re getting the correct change back at the checkout and determine how much your meal is going to cost before you order.
If you want to help someone learn basic math skills and make it look like a game instead of studying, look at gambling games that can help. Blackjack is a great tool to help someone learn how to do simple addition. For more advanced math, learn more about the probabilities in poker based on the 52 card deck.
5 – Make Games More Interesting
Professional and college sporting events run year round. The NFL, NCAA football, NBA, NCAA basketball, NHL, and MLB run together, offering thousands of games every year. If you’re a sports fan you probably watch games every week.
One way to make games more interesting and entertaining is to place bets on them. Whether you bet on your favorite teams or try to determine which team has the best chance to cover the spread, gambling on sporting events adds an extra layer on any game you plan to watch.
You can place bets on games with a traditional sportsbook, or you can make them with friends, co-workers, or family. You don’t have to make large best to make a game interesting. Betting $5 or $10 can add to the entertainment value of a game.
6 – Get Comps
Gambling just to earn comps can be dangerous, but if you’re going to gamble you should always become a member of the player’s club. You can sign up before you start playing and earn free things like meals and merchandise every time you gamble.
When you combine a good comps program with a game you can win or break even at, the comps are a nice bonus. Even when you play games with a low house edge that you can’t beat, if you get enough value in comps, it can make up for most of your losses.
I mentioned that gambling just to earn comps can be dangerous. The reason is that if you’re trying to reach a certain comps level, it can make you gamble more than you intended. View comps as a nice extra, not as the main goal, and you won’t fall into this trap.
7 – The Rush
I’ll be honest. I enjoy gambling. The thought of beating the casino, sportsbook, or other players at the poker table gives me a rush. Using my brain to win money is better than work any day of the week.
The reason I listed the rush last in the reasons to gamble section, right before the section about why you should stop gambling, is because there’s a fine line between keeping control of your gambling and going over the edge because of the rush.
Studies have been done about how the brain reacts when gambling and some of them are scary.
Here are a couple links to more information about that:
Before you start to panic, most people can gamble, even if they love the rush, and stop when they need to.
But it’s important to understand the rush, why you get it, and how to keep it under control.
I find the best way to enjoy the rush without it creating a problem is to focus on mastering games where I have a realistic chance to win in the long run. Because of this I play a great deal of poker. I also bet on sports and play a little blackjack. These are all games that have strategy that can be used to break even or win in the long run.
Few feelings are better than gambling and winning.
But some games are impossible to beat in the long run. If you gamble for the rush, I suggest concentrating on games where you can use strategy to give yourself a chance to break even or win.
Slot machines are often designed to give players many small wins to help them feel the rush while slowly taking your money. When you run out of money, you want to put more in the machine so you can feel the rush again.
Many players feel the rush even when they’re losing. This can be ok, but never let the rush control how much you gamble. Or at the minimum, find a way to get the same rush without risking much money. Some people can get a rush spending a few dollars on lottery tickets, instead of risking thousands at the tables.
The gambling rush can be good and bad. Do everything you can to stay on the good side of the rush.
When You Should Stop Gambling
Gambling is a great form of entertainment, and gives you a chance to win money sometimes.
But a few people have a gambling problem and need to stop.
Here are three things to watch for to see if you should consider stopping:
1 – You Lose Too Much Money
Any time you lose money, it’s painful.
But if you simply replace the expense of another form of entertainment with what you use to gamble, it can be a good trade.
If you start losing too much money, you need to consider finding something else to do.
Here’s the good news:
There’s a simple solution to losing too much. Set aside an amount equal to another form of entertainment to gamble with and then stop gambling if you lose it. Don’t go to the ATM or dip into your other money to gamble for any reason.
2 – You Can’t Stop
The first sign that you need to stop gambling is when you realize that you can’t stop. If you find that you can’t watch a game unless you have money on it, or if you don’t feel alive unless you’re gambling on something, it’s time to get help.
I’m not an expert about gambling problems, but I’ve seen it destroy people’s lives. I’ve also seen many people who don’t gamble recklessly and enjoy it their entire lives. I can’t tell you which group you belong in.
But I can give you a few rules I have for myself that have helped me over the years. They might be able to help you as well.
- Never gamble with money you can’t afford to lose.
- Make sure all of your basic needs are paid for every month before gambling. These include rent or mortgage payment, utility bills, and food.
- Learn to enjoy sporting events without betting on them. I’m not saying you should stop betting on sports; just don’t bet on every game you watch.
- Take a long break from gambling to see what happens.
- Never chase losses.
- Use specific loss limits and never make an exception.
If you ever find that you can’t stop gambling, you need to seek help. You can find many different kinds of support for gambling issues. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
3 – It’s Not Fun
Gambling can be fun. Many people argue that it’s supposed to be fun. And the casino industry does everything they can to make it fun. But the truth is that gambling isn’t always fun.
I rarely play games where I can’t create an edge in some way, or at least break even. This means that I can’t stand playing a slot machine, even if I like the theme or would otherwise enjoy the game. In fact, I don’t get much enjoyment out of any gambling activity, other than the rush of trying to beat the house.
Many people can have an evening at the casino and have a good time, even if they don’t win. Just like you learned in the first section about entertainment, these people are able to enjoy their casino trip as much or more as going to a movie or out to eat.
But not everyone can have fun.
When you find that you’re more likely to be angry or unhappy when you gamble instead of happy, it might be time to find a different hobby. The good news is that you might be able to get back to enjoying casino games without risking any money.
The main reason I see people get angry when gambling is when they lose. A small percentage of gamblers are unhappy when they make a poor decision, but the root of most gambling unhappiness is losing money. This isn’t exactly the same as the previous section on losing too much money. You can play within your financial means and still be unhappy.
Try playing at one of the online casinos listed on this site, but only play the free games. Online casinos let players try most of their games for free in hopes that the players will eventually play for real money.
But you don’t have to play for real money; you can play for free as long as you want.
For some players, playing their favorite games for free is enough to make it fun again. Other players can’t seem to get the same feeling from free play. You won’t know if free play is fun if you don’t try.
You can find many reasons to gamble, and a few reasons not to. Now you know the reasoning behind the most popular ones. At the end of the day, only you can decide if you should start or stop. Use the information on this page to help you make an educated decision.