Gambling in a Las Vegas casino inherently involves losing over the long run, thanks to carefully tailored probabilities and payout odds designed to provide the house with a statistical edge.
Making a visit to Las Vegas and dropping a few bucks taking on the house is simply the price we gamblers pay for entertainment and enjoyment. It might not always return a profit, but the time we spend grinding is worthwhile for several reasons.
Some gamblers enjoy the mental challenges and competitive nature that skill games provide. Others are just looking to let loose in hopes that lightning strikes. And for millions of gamblers who visit Las Vegas each and every year, spending time in Sin City is their only opportunity to experience a proper casino resort.
Whatever reasons you have for gambling, however, losing at an inordinate rate can leave even the best of us feeling frustrated. The house will always have its precious edge, but in most cases, that edge should still allow players a few wins.
With that in mind, I’ve put together the following list to highlight five effective ways to cool off and reset when you’re having a long run of bad luck gambling in Las Vegas. But first, you’ll learn why this occurs and how tilting can affect your skill.
Suffering a Bad Beat
Let’s take the classic card game of blackjack as the perfect example. Despite the house holding an edge of between 0.5% and 1.5%, depending on the house rules and a player’s strategic knowledge, you can expect to win on 42.22% of deals and push on 8.48% of hands.
That’s right, when you play blackjack in Las Vegas, you’ll only lose 49.10% of the hands you see.
Remember though, these figures represent statistical probabilities over an infinite sample size of millions upon millions of random hands. For the average gambler’s purposes though, what most of us refer to as good and bad luck can wreak havoc on what should, for all intents and purposes, be a coin flip style 50/50 affair.
And when you wind up losing five straight hands to blow through $100 within minutes, or continually watch well-timed double downs go down in flames courtesy of a hot dealer, it can be all too easy for frustration to set in.
Poker players have a term for this emotional turmoil that perfectly encapsulates the feeling—tilt. When a gambler goes on tilt, all of their logical considerations regarding fiscal discipline, strategic thinking, and even behavioral decorum get tossed out the window.
What Going on Tilt Really Looks Like
We’ve all seen a tilted gambler a time or two before. Their face grows red with fury as they watch their chip stacks slowly melt away to reveal green felt. They might be muttering under their breath about devious dealers delivering bad beats, or “rigged” machines that seem to be programmed specifically to provide personalized punishment.
And in cases that aren’t as rare as you might imagine, tilted players have been known to completely lose their cool:
Derating the dealer
Jumping on the table
Or even slapping themselves silly.
If watching these sorry souls made you cringe, you’re not alone. It’s easy for even the most well-mannered gamblers to be consumed by tilt. Maybe they don’t go so far as to attack the dealer with chips, but many players succumb to tilt in less noticeable ways.
Maybe they bet bigger than they can afford in hopes of recouping losses with one Hail Mary hand. Or perhaps, they abandon reasonable games and wagers for extreme longshots that they’d never ordinarily wager on.
Whatever ways tilt might affect you, the goal for every gambler should be to get a firm grip on their emotions to avoid falling into this dreaded trap.
1 – Walk a Few Laps Around the Casino Floor
At the first signs that tilt might be setting in, the first step every savvy gambler should take is, quite literally, the first step.
Just cash in your chips, excuse yourself from the table or machine, and walk away. There’s no shame in retreating from the field of battle and living to fight another day, so don’t think twice about leaving the game to walk a few laps around the casino floor.
While you’re walking, you can try to enter any head space that helps you calm down. If you’re a skill game player, try analyzing the prior plays that haven’t worked out to see if you’re doing anything wrong.
If you prefer pure games of chance, keep a lookout for different slots that you’ve never tried before. And if you just want to take your mind off gambling for a moment, harken back to positive memories and experiences that always seem to put a smile on your face.
Before you know it, this exercise (again, in the literal sense) will leave you feeling refreshed and ready to give gambling another go.
2 – Call Your Significant Other or Friend for a Pep Talk
You can incorporate this tip into your walk, or find a quiet corner somewhere to talk, but reaching out to your closest confidant is a surefire way to ward off tilt.
Your loved one likely doesn’t give a damn whether you win or lose (in moderation of course), they just want you to have a blast soaking in the Sin City experience. That means you can start the conversation off with a little venting before the chat turns toward topics of shared interest.
Tell them about that room service meal that blew you away (for better or worse), ask how things are going back home, or let them serve as a cure-all salve that magically seems to heal your gambling-inflicted wounds.
We all know someone who always manages to make the worst of times somehow feel better, so get in touch with whomever that happens to be when tilt threatens to derail your trip.
3 – Grab a Bite to Eat at the Buffet or a Beer at the Bar
My personal favorite method for keeping tilt at bay involves a copious amount of quality food and beverage.
When things just aren’t on track gambling-wise, there’s no better pick-me-up than treating yourself to a bountiful meal at the casino buffet. Generous helpings of your favorite meals can provide nourishment in more ways than one, refueling both your body and mind before you jump back into the fray.
I always like to fill up at the buffet before finishing things off with a nice pint at the sports bar. Prime rib and crab legs are especially delicious when I’m feeling defeated as a gambler.
With a cold draft beer in hand, and the night’s big game on TV overhead, an hour or so can easily elapse before I even remember what I was so angry about in the first place.
One word of warning, however, concerns just how many brews you imbibe. One strong cocktail or beer is the perfect antidote for tilt, but drinking alcohol in excess can have the opposite effect by exacerbating the emotional upheaval you’re trying to resolve.
A burger and a beer should do the trick. So, when tilt is lurking around the next corner, grab a bite and an adult beverage before heading back to battle the house.
4 – Head Up to the Room for a Power Nap and Steam Shower
One of the most effective ways to forget about gambling losses is to get off the casino floor entirely.
You’ve paid good money for high-quality Las Vegas resort lodging, so why not take full advantage of the resource by using your hotel room as a headquarters for tilt avoidance?
If you can’t seem to make it happen while playing, call it quits for now and head upstairs. From there, you can set an alarm and lie down for a quick siesta, fire up the laptop to clean up your email inbox, or even jump in a hot shower for an impromptu sauna.
In my case, I usually skip the nap for an extended steam room experience, turning the fan off and closing the door while I let the warm water wash away any last traces of anger and resentment.
5 – Call It Quits for the Day and Explore the Resort’s Non-Gambling Amenities
Lastly, but certainly not least, the easiest way to prevent tilt from punishing your bankroll is to stop playing altogether.
Trust me, I know how hard it can be to avoid gambling when you visited Las Vegas to do exactly that. But, in certain cases, the best course of action is to banish yourself from the casino and use the self-imposed exile as an opportunity for reflection.
Modern casino resorts offer hundreds of ways to have fun that have nothing to do with wagering. Check out as many as you can. I like hitting the lanes at the Gold Coast’s bowling alley or watching a flick at the Palms’ in-house movie theatre. Try to spend your hard-earned money in a more productive fashion.
When you eventually forget all about the losses that had you on tilt, you’ll be much better prepared to approach your next gambling session with a sound mind and a stable emotional state.
Casinos are a cutthroat locale for gamblers who can’t control themselves, and Las Vegas was built on the backs of losers who let tilt derail their best laid plans. If you don’t want to be one of those sad sacks sullenly chasing losses with larger bets, take every measure to tackle tilt before it rears its ugly head.
Michael Stevens has been researching and writing topics involving the gambling industry for well over a decade now and is considered an expert on all things casino and sports betting. Michael has been writing for GamblingSites.org since early 2016. ...
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