Online Gambling

An expert responded that land-based or online casino gambling should be a “manageable thrill” for the casual player. Expert claimed that a normal casino blackjack player playing for matchsticks or pennies would get bored very easily, as no hand actually meant that much to him. There was no sting to losing; there was no jolt to winning. But if he bets $500 a hand, he could find himself sweating profusely as he saw a prolonged series of losses in his rent money or food money going out the window. He may drop dead from fear, very literally. The feelings will range from fear at losing to satisfaction at not losing in the case of the $500 bettor. Where is the fun?

The Expert’s theory of a “manageable thrill” came down to a simple formula: the bets you make must be large enough to make it worth winning, but small enough not to make you think of all the things you might buy with that money. That was your “thrill zone”: the betting range that was important, winning or losing but wasn’t really detrimental to your emotional or economic well-being.

Most players bet a certain amount when they start a game first, then raise their bets slowly before they reach the “thrill zone,” as the Expert calls it. The sweat zone is where the bet is difficult to contemplate. Most craps players hit the sweat zone many times after they pushed their bets. Sometimes a patient gambler with a good roll will start thinking more about the money at risk than about rolling the dice in a calm and controlled way. It makes firing the dice no longer an exercise of anticipation but pain.

No doubt the average casino player is a thrill-seeker. Going up against Lady Luck is a roller coaster ride where you race up and down, up and down your money and emotions. Going on roller coasters is a delight to many people-but not if you have had a big meal and get sick to your stomach. Too much betting at a casino game is the equivalent of going on a full belly roller coaster. For you and others watching you it could become a sickening experience.

Interestingly, among some card counters I’ve noticed similar phenomenon, people who play with an advantage over the casinos. They might start their betting at $25, but when it’s called for by the count, they will push the bet up, sometimes a lot. At some point, even with their advantage over the casino, these card counters will begin to sweat their action— their hearts are beginning to pound, and what once was a fun pastime becomes truly intestinal.

I once entered the sweat zone in the early 1990s when I found myself betting on two hands of several thousand dollars that I had split, breathed and then doubled on. The blood actually spilled out of me; one drop went straight down my nose and fell on my cards as the dealer flipped over a 16, struck it with a 5 and swept me off the wall. Plop, fell and I was drained spiritually and monetarily.

No amount of rationalization can really stop a person from entering the sweat zone, because in the unconscious mind the dimensions of the region are deeply rooted. Many of us don’t have knowledge of where the sweat zone ends. I knew a professional blackjack player, worth millions in his career, who simply couldn’t handle a $50 bet. He used to talk about the fact that he should be able to bet ten times that amount, especially when he was favored by the count, but for some reason, his emotional limit was $50. And he got overcome with anxiety over this.


Gaming writers love to talk about tactics, house edges, and bankroll criteria, but we rarely talk about the emotional bankroll an individual must bet at a certain point. A red-chip player might want to be able to play at the green level-and maybe be able to afford to-but they just can’t bring themselves to do it. His hands begin shaking as he pushes the chips out. If that happens to you at a certain point of betting, do not make the bet! When you know for yourself, please bet inside your thrill zone and don’t try to push the envelope. It’s not worth the consternation that such behavior will bring you, second-guessing, and self-flagellation.

Over years of experience the Expert has learned that some bets are just not worth making-even bets where you may have an edge-if the fear of loss becomes so daunting that the act of making the bet causes agony.

Some thinkers have proposed that the human being is made up of three parts: mind, body and mind. Any three of those elements should be used to enjoy casino gambling. Your mind will tell you which bets are best to make; your spirit will enjoy the contest; and when you go overboard, your body will let you know. You will know that when the sweat starts pouring, you’ve reached that level.