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How to control your emotions while gambling

Emotions. We’ve all got them.

 

But how do you keep them under control?

Some people seem to have astounding control over theirs, or at least keep them hidden beneath a well-maintained façade. Then there are the rest of us, the ones who boil over and burn ourselves and those around us when emotions get fired up. We’re the “sensitive” ones, the “emotional” people, the “short fuses,” the “criers.” I don’t know about you but for once, I would love to watch a popular Christmas ad without dissolving into a puddle of my own tears.

Don’t get me wrong, emotions are crucial to living life – there would be no art without emotion, no music or dance or those soul-crushing ASPCA commercials with Sarah McLachlan singing “In the Arms of the Angels” while heart-breaking images of sad and lonely puppies and kittens scroll by. Damn you, tear ducts, DAMN YOU.

And, some people even argue that if you cry easily, it’s a sign that you’re mentally strong. Exactly what I’m going to tell the next person who looks at me weird as I’m bawling my eyes out during Brave. Hey, don’t judge – my mom and I are really close.

But, despite all the good that comes with having emotions, there is an ugly side. When the emotions rage unchecked, it’s hard to control reactions. The emotional people know what it’s like to let those emotions take control of your actions and cause you to do something you later really regret. That’s especially true when gambling. From the proverbial poker face to the need to control your emotions when on a winning or losing streak to keep things from getting out of control, managing your emotions and your bankroll are mission critical to stay at the top of your game.

Establish what you’re feeling

Don't let sadness get you down The first step to controlling your emotions is recognizing that they’re there. When you feel a certain emotion, identify it and acknowledge that it’s real and that you’re experiencing it. You can’t attempt to improve your emotional control unless you first know how you’re feeling.

Are you frustrated? Annoyed? Jealous? Anxious? Bitter? Hyper? Over the moon? Feeling angry? Whatever you’re feeling, identify it and recognize that you are feeling it before attempting to understand what’s causing it.

Be aware of and modify the situation

So, you feel frustrated, enough that it might turn to a fiery burning rage at any moment. What are you doing? Where are you? What’s happening in this moment to make you feel this way? If you’re in a scenario that you can change, attempt to do so.

For example, if you keep losing piles of money playing online blackjack and you’re feeling like you could chuck your very expensive desktop out the nearest window, I ask you to refrain. Don’t choose defenestration – modify your situation! Play poker, slots, or baccarat; play free blackjack at CoolCat; or try lowering your bets while you get more comfortable with the game. You’ll thank me later when you’re eventually winning money instead of dropping it on a shiny new desktop at your local Best Buy as you sob hysterically. No worries though, the cashier would understand. Emotions, man.

Realize that you are responsible for your emotions

Anexiety needs to be kept in checkWhether you like it or not, you are the only one who dictates your own emotions and your response to them. It’s true that people and happenings around you can affect you, but you ultimately take full responsibility for how you let those factors make you feel and how you react. Technically, no one can make you feel anything – that’s completely up to you. Which, I’m not really sorry to say, gives everyone fewer excuses to act like a jerk and get away with it.

Your brain may be a billion firing neurons congealing into something we know as thoughts and, at least so they say, your emotions stem from your thoughts, and your thoughts come from your perception of truth. This is influenced by your culture, how you were raised, your experiences, your beliefs, the lights and sounds that surround you and a number of other factors. So, something that makes you feel and react a certain way makes someone else feel and react differently, at least most of the time. For example, being late is always considered rude for some people, while others think it’s never a big deal, and still others think it depends on the situation. So before you act like a dick to your friend who was thirty minutes late meeting up for lunch, remember that though you might consider it rude, he might think it’s no biggie. And if he does think it’s rude, he’ll probably apologize and maybe even offer to buy your lunch if you react positively. So, win-win.

Find another point of focus and move on

jealousy is a dangerous emotionIf you realize you’re feeling a certain emotion in a situation and are still struggling with controlling it, you can always shift your focus. When you go to the casino, you constantly find yourself focused on the guys or gals at your table laying down hand after hand with unnerving skill and raking in chips way more often than you are. This focus automatically makes you feel like a mega-loser, which in turn makes the entire experience at the casino a negative one. You don’t want to go back to the casino again.

Instead of focusing on an aspect of a situation that brings up negative thoughts, shift your focus onto aspects that bring up positive emotions, or at least neutral ones. Instead of focusing on the card sharks, try focusing on yourself and the progress that you’re making. Not only will this help combat negative emotions you associated with the casino, it will help promote positive emotions in their place. Also, it’ll probably help you get better and start making more money quicker than if you stayed focused on other people. So stop gawking at that guy’s chips and focus on your cards and your own pile, and you might make it grow.

Better yet play online at CoolCat, try your hand at roulette or craps to get a handle on your pressure points. Feeling down after a losing streak? Or too anxious? Take a break, have a drink, walk around the room before continuing on. I mean, there’s no one there to see you and learning when you get too wound up in the comfort of your own home can help you get the edge when you play at a real casino. Set yourself a firm budget and stick to it, no matter how strong your emotions. This degree of self-control can take you a long way in life, and will certainly enhance the fun you have while playing.

Express your emotions positively

anger management is super importantOne helpful way to work through emotions is to put them into another form of existence. Writing in a journal, making a video blog, or expressing emotion through art forms like music, painting, or dance are all ways to positively express emotions that you can’t understand or control. The important thing for you to do during this exercise is to ask yourself what’s causing the emotions and dig beneath surface-level thoughts.

For example, in terms of anger management activities, you might ask yourself, “Why do I feel so angry?” You’ve identified the emotion and established that you’re feeling it, so now you’re free to look at what’s going on and pay special attention to the thoughts that led you to that point. Once you identify the thoughts that are causing the emotion, you can identify whether they stem from actual truth or your perception of truth.

Here’s what I mean – if you consistently make bank while gambling and get angry because of one off day, you might think, I suck at blackjack. Nonsense! Look at all the other times you’ve beat the dealer – your thoughts aren’t stemming from actual truth, but your perception of the truth due to the situation. At this point, you can either change your thoughts – I just had a bad day, that’s all! – or dismiss them as false by reminding yourself that, uh, you normally kick ass at blackjack, and therefore you obviously don’t suck.

Change how you react

Happy is good but don't get carried away If all else fails and your emotions are a tangled, undecipherable mess, your last resort is to change your response. While it’s healthier for you to understand what you’re feeling and determine an appropriate reaction based on an analysis of those emotions, sometimes there’s no time to work it out.

Controlled physical response is a great way to channel emotions into a manageable form. Try taking deep breaths and closing your eyes for a few moments if you’re nervous or angry, or go for a walk if you can’t get your emotions under control with something that simple.

Or, if literally everything fails and you don’t care what anyone thinks, go balls to the wall and fight someone or weep openly. Just don’t punch the dealer or get tears on the felt – either way, you won’t be getting a 21. Trust me. Or better yet, spend some time playing online for free at CoolCat Casino in the privacy of your own home. Take a deep breath, figure out where you stand, what you feel and why and lighten up and have some fun!

Kate Church

Kate Church is an avid reader, professional writer and lover of games. After taking her Bachelor of Arts degree in English writing and a minor in journalism at the University of Nevada, Reno, Kate has traveled the world, seeking out adventure, knowledge and games of skill and chance.