7 Mistakes College-Aged Gamblers Must Avoid

By in Casino & Gaming on
7 Minute Read

Early adulthood is a period when many people discover who they are, mostly through a never-ending cycle of trial and error.

Some mistakes are easy to rectify and learn from. Mistakes like backing into your mom’s car on your way to a friend’s house, or maybe even missing curfew by a few minutes.

To err is human. Sometimes it seems that no age group reinforces that idea in a more resounding manner than college-aged young adults.

Something interesting and a bit unfortunate occurs between the ages of 18-22. As people depart their teenage years, the number of mistakes steadily decreases while their severity increases.

You see, college students are often confident and strong-willed due to a new-found sense of freedom. That freedom is often liberating, but it isn’t completely safe from its fair share of problems.


A lack of a support system in the form of parents and guardians to help pick up the pieces when things take a turn. As every young adult will discover, part of being an adult is cleaning up your own mess.

When someone new to gambling happens to be a young adult, a perfect storm of dysfunction and disaster may occur.

As you might already know, rookie mistakes are to be expected when gambling. Some are easy to move past and recover from while others are more severe.

For those of you college-aged rookie gamblers trying to get off to a strong start: here are 7 mistakes you must avoid.

1 ‒ Gambling Away Grocery Money

College is expensive. This likely isn’t news to anyone, but it’s important to talk about the financial side of gambling in college before proceeding.

Students are usually responsible for tuition, textbooks, transportation, rent, and of course, groceries. Some might invest in a meal plan, but you can only consume so many slices of lukewarm pizza and bowls of stale cereal before they lose their appeal.

To make matters more financially uncertain, college students are typically at a stage in their life when money is hard to come by. Jobs are often scarce around campus, and those students who do have one make just enough to squeak by.

In other words: a majority of students don’t have heaps of money lying around.

College isn’t usually the time to flaunt your wealth or diversify your portfolio. It’s a time to learn how to operate in the real world so you can find a job that pays you well.

Penny-pinching and tough times are normal parts of the college experience. It can find many in uncomfortable situations, forcing you to make challenging decisions.

If you’re ever deciding between putting your last $20 on a game of poker or buying enough food to see you through payday: always go with the groceries.

2 ‒ Prioritizing Gambling Over Class

Being a successful college student requires one to make more responsible decisions than irresponsible ones. I say that because it’s unfair to expect a student to make the right call 100% of the time.

Occasionally it’s worth snoozing your alarm and skipping an 8 am class, or going out instead of studying for the 10th night in a row. College is all about balance.

Students have to balance school, work, relationships, entertainment, and sleep. Those of you who choose to gamble during college are simply making the balancing act a bit more demanding.

As I Said Earlier: College Is Rife With Tough Calls

It’s no secret that some classes, especially underclassmen intro courses, are mind-numbing and hardly seem worth your time. Some are so painfully boring that you’ll do anything to avoid paying attention or attending.

Unlike intro to microeconomics or statistics, gambling won’t put you to sleep.

Gambling when you should be focusing on school can lead to many problems. As boring as those courses may be, you need to pass them to graduate.

Online blackjack or sports betting might seem like a great alternative to class, but prioritizing gambling over school is never a smart wager.

3 ‒ Taking Advice From Other College-Aged Gamblers

No one seems to offer more unsolicited advice than the average college-aged gambler.

Whether it’s which team you should bet on, or why Hold’em is the best version of poker, they certainly love to talk about gambling.

The reason for this is easy to explain. Gambling is very easy to obsess over, especially in the early stages of someone’s gambling career.

Combine that with the confidence and boisterous nature of a college student and you get a certified chatterbox.

But, just because someone is sharing their gambling wisdom with you doesn’t mean you have to accept it. Doing the exact opposite will probably serve you better.

4 ‒ Forgetting to Set Parameters

Like college, gambling rewards those who make smart decisions and practice self control.

Responsible college students are rewarded with higher grades than their less disciplined classmates. Similarly, smarter gamblers are typically more profitable.

Setting boundaries when gambling in college is important for several reasons.

  • Keeping track of your gambling budget keep you honest
  • There’s less of a chance your spending will get out of hand
  • Parameters will provide an opportunity to track success over time
  • That discipline will carry over to other aspects of gambling

It’s easy to overlook the benefits of responsible boundary-setting when you first start gambling. The focus is usually placed on the games themselves and the goal of winning money.

If you want to accomplish that goal, set boundaries before you even consider placing your first bet.

These boundaries should address how much money and time you spend gambling, as both are likely going to be hard to come by in college.

Once your allotted time or bankroll has run out, it’s important to step back and address other aspects of your life as a college student.

5 ‒ Jumping in Before Acknowledging Drawbacks

College students tend to have a more positive outlook on life than other demographics. Their whole life is ahead of them and the world is out there for the taking.

While there isn’t anything inherently wrong with expecting the best, it’s always best to prepare for the worst. If you don’t, all hopes and dreams of winning money can vanish in an instant leaving you in a tough situation.

For most people, earning gambling profits isn’t a foregone conclusion. In fact, the opposite is often the case.

As a college student, it’s irresponsible to start gambling if you expect to win money. Your goal should be to have fun and develop your skills.

Acknowledging how difficult gambling can be will help keep expectations and spending habits in check.

6 ‒ Letting Gambling Become a Personality Trait

Gambling represents different things for different people.

For some, it’s a way to make a living, for others it’s merely something fun to do on the weekends. Both of these are perfectly reasonable ways to approach gambling.

Professional gambling is a legitimate form of income for the best gamblers in the world. For everyone else: gambling should be a source of joy and entertainment.

Unfortunately, there are those people who are incapable of winning money and controlling their gambling habits.

These people are otherwise known as gambling addicts.

When you decide to start playing, you must constantly remind yourself of something. You are a college student who gambles, not a gambler who goes to college.

Gambling is something to do, it’s not a personality trait or something that should be obsessed over. A majority of students don’t have the means to support irresponsible gambling habits.

7 ‒ Depriving Yourself of Formative College Experiences

Before I left for college, everyone told me that the next few years would be the best of my life. At the time, it was sort of annoying to hear that from all sides.

In hindsight, there was a lot of truth to that.

I wouldn’t say that the time I spent in college was hands-down the best years of my life. But, they’re certainly in the conversation.

In college, you have the opportunity to meet new people with similar interests, some of who can even become lifelong friends. Your schedule may be chaotic, and you’ll likely come out the other end in desperate need of a nap and a life-long break from Ramen.

But, the experience can be formative and truly remarkable. Choosing to spend those years sitting in your dorm or apartment gambling is simply a waste of a great opportunity.

Gambling will still be there after you graduate. Those precious, potentially life-changing experiences will not.


College is a great time to learn to gamble if it can be done responsibly.

When it comes to gambling during college, there are a few things you must avoid if you want to be a successful student and gambler.

Never gamble with money you’d otherwise spend on necessities like groceries. Gambling is likely more fun than some of your classes, but you need to pass to graduate. Don’t prioritize gambling over school.

Don’t start gambling hoping to double the money your parents gave you for textbooks. Always be responsible and know there’s a chance you’ll walk away empty-handed.

Finally, don’t miss out on all the activities around campus by camping out in your dorm room to gamble. There will be plenty of time to gamble after graduation.

Michael Stevens

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. ...

View all posts by Michael Stevens
Email the author at: [email protected]