No matter how calculating we may feel in our betting, as human beings, all of us are susceptible to emotions. The best professional gamblers are able to keep their mental state under control to a large degree, but even they will fall prey to their emotions from time to time. To find out more about how excitement or displeasure can affect your betting, we’ve put together this guide on the psychology of betting.
It is natural to find yourself becoming emotionally invested in sports. Whether your favourite team is losing or winning, the buzz of success or the disappointment of losing is part of watching sport. Caring about the outcome means that the average sports fan experiences an emotional rollercoaster.
Dealing with the Different Outcomes of a Bet
Betting on sport is just the same. In fact, the emotions are intensified because, with a sports bet, we stand to benefit personally from the outcome, while defeat will result in a personal loss. This can produce a powerful emotional effect, which is usually negative because the key to successful betting is the use of sound logic and reason in an objective way.
The dangers of being influenced by emotion when you bet may be obvious, but it is worth dwelling on them for a moment. Betting is a high-risk activity, in which the margins between success and failure can be small. It is also likely that many of your bets will fail, even if you are a successful gambler. Allowing yourself to become too emotionally involved in the fate of anyone bet can lead to a host of mistakes, such as overconfidence, chasing losses or giving up betting entirely.
How to Reduce the Effect of Emotion
Professional gamblers are no less human than you or me, but they have mastered the trick of controlling their emotions. This is hard work and requires discipline and diligence, but it can be done. Emotional resilience is made up of three components: financial, psychological and physical.
- Staying in control of your budget
Of the three pillars of emotional resilience, this is the easiest to create. Essentially, financial resilience is about reducing your attachment to the fate of individual bets. If you are betting with money you cannot afford to lose, then it is very hard not to become emotional about a bet. This can be avoided by ensuring that you are only betting with money that ultimately you can afford to lose. By setting aside a bankroll specifically for betting, not using that money for anything else, and staking consistently so that you don’t risk wiping out your whole bankroll on one or two bets, you will have a degree of financial stability that will help to reduce the emotion associated with each bet.
- Becoming psychologically resilient
The realm of psychological resilience is a more uncertain terrain. Essentially, this boils down to strength of character, and some people will be better placed to deal with the emotional highs and lows of betting than others. But there are things you can do to improve your psychological resilience. The key is to carry out regular self-analysis. In fact, this should be as essential a part of your betting schedule as recording your bets and reviewing your selections. To build up psychological resilience, try to think about times when you have experienced strong emotions. Reflect on what you were feeling, why you were feeling that way, and how those feelings affected your behaviour. This will not only help to take the edge off those emotions, it will also give you valuable insight into your own psychology. Don’t be afraid to take a break from betting either if you are finding the emotional side of it is getting to you. Step away, refresh and take the time to think through your psychological responses. It can make you a better gambler and a stronger person.
- Taking care of yourself
The physical side of betting is often overlooked, but it is important. If things are not going well, it can take a toll on your physical wellbeing just as much as your mind. Building physical resilience, by getting plenty of sleep, eating well and taking regular exercise can put you in a better state to cope with the emotional ups and downs that are an inevitable part of betting.
Changing Your Mindset
Positive thinking is often written off as unscientific or gimmicky self-help nonsense. That’s a big mistake. How we think about the world will often frame how we approach every situation, every conversation and every bet. It will affect how we react to bad luck and how we respond to difficulties. Positive thoughts can improve our lives for the better, while negativity can consume us.
Positive thinking can become a habit, and it can generate positive emotions. This in itself doesn’t make you a better gambler, but it does ensure that you aren’t consumed by negativity every time you have a losing bet, and it puts you in a better frame of mind to make rational decisions, which is the essential ability that all professional gamblers have in common.
How to Cope with Success
This may sound counter-intuitive, even foolish. Surely everyone can cope with success? Well, it isn’t as straightforward as you’d think. Learning to take losing bets in your stride, not to become emotionally over-invested in a bet, and taking time out to clear your mind after a losing run are all good strategies to control your negative emotions. But how do you respond to winning?
Like losing, winning is a temporary phenomenon in betting on sports like football or poker. Ultimately, if you win more than you lose, you will be ahead in the long term. But in the short term, a winning run can be just as dangerous emotionally as a losing streak. Winning can encourage laziness, complacency, and a feeling that you are unbeatable and that you will soon be a millionaire, which in turn can set you up for an emotional crash when you have your next losing run. You may become a millionaire, but there will be ups and downs along the way and learning to reign in your confidence is just as important as learning to bounce back and be resilient in the face of disappointment.
Controlling Emotions Is a Skill That Needs Honing
You can’t take the emotion out of betting, without taking the human out of betting. But betting that is fuelled by emotion is likely to be unsuccessful. Learning to control your emotions is a skill as essential to the aspiring professional gambler as understanding how to price up a market or managing your bankroll, and if you can master it, you will be laying one of the foundations of betting success.