As a simplified way of looking at it, sports bettors and gamblers fall into
one of two types of people.
The first is the person who looks at betting as a fun and social activity. He
or she exercises control, and like
92% of gamblers, has a loss threshold and typically won’t risk any more than
The second is the one whose prime motivation is to take a risk to win. This
type of bettor is driven and has one end game.
Regardless of which category someone falls into, emotions can override intent
and the outcome. Even a casual bettor who is just being social can get caught up
in the competition of it or let a disappointment trigger unplanned action.
Emotions are always with us, but we need to know when to keep them in check,
and that can be challenging. You may have had one of the worst mornings of your
life, but it would be unwise to go into your office and throw things around or
fiercely yell at your co-workers. There’s validity to the way you feel, but you
have to be strong enough not to let your behavior follow suit.
If you’re in the second category and you have the focused intent to come out
ahead whenever you stake a bet, it’s even more vital to pay attention to your
reactions and actions. If you’re out there operating without some limits, your
mindset can be extremely detrimental to you.
The Four Basic Human Emotions
You could sit there and write lists that go on and on with all types of
feelings you may have or have had at some point in your life. But most
psychologists and behaviorists agree that all of the different twists and turns
our emotions take fall into one of four categories.
The scale formerly included a total of six, but “surprise” now falls into
fear, and “disgust” is part of anger.
When you’re betting, your emotions can benefit you if you’re aware of them
and make use of them appropriately. Or they can be extremely harmful, not only
to your immediate outcome, but they can have long-lasting implications on your
regular day to day life.
Fear, like anger and sadness, may seem like an obvious one to avoid. And,
yes, that’s true if it’s overwhelming in your life. With particular regard to
finances, it can be the kiss of death to gamblers. Money worries are a big
reason why even the occasional bettor can make matters worse.
If you’re in dire straits and look at your bet as your last hope, the result
will usually not end up as you would have liked.
Maybe you did place a wager that turned out to be successful, and it gave you
a little bit of relief, but it still doesn’t solve your problem. When you’re in
the midst of real panic, you could just turn around and “let it ride,” hoping
that the next result is successful and makes things that much better. People who
are in the depths of financial despair want their lives to turn around
completely, so they’ll keep going and trying to accumulate as much money as
What happens then? Many times they push it just one step too far and end up
back where they started or worse yet.
The emotion of fear can take many shapes, though. Fear can make you
suspicious or distrustful. Maybe you think that the bookmaker is dishonest or
unfair with its odds, so you place some bets to prove that and try to one-up the
On the other hand, there are times when fear can benefit you, not only in
gambling but in all areas of life. It can make you cautious and keep you away
from areas that don’t appear to be safe. It will prompt you to keep your doors
locked and take other precautions, just in case.
Being timid in gambling may inspire you to stake very conservative bets that
don’t affect your livelihood regardless of the outcome. There’s a big difference
in betting your last $100 and betting a hundred that’s just pocket money to you.
Anger can present itself in so many ways. It can be pure and simple rage
manifesting itself physically, vocally, or internally. It can also present as
resentment, impatience, frustration, aggressiveness, vindictiveness, or even as
Being afraid can also turn to anger, just as acting on your rage can end up
making you fearful in the end. While everyone feels these emotions, they are
something you want to deal with independently. You don’t want to allow them to
creep into your decision-making process.
The emotion of anger is one that can be exhibited in two different
directions, and both have an impact on betting. Your feelings can be projected
outward, or the can turn inward and really do some personal damage to your
An outward expression could mean placing additional bets or increasing your
stakes much higher than you had ever expected. Maybe you just lost a “sure
thing,” and you are frustrated.
Your first inclination might be to get that money back and redeem yourself.
You’re mad at the team, an individual player, or even the sportsbook. They
wronged you, and it’s their fault, but you’re going to get even with them and
get everything back and even more.
There are all kinds of emotions swirling around at the time. You’re
frustrated in your unexpected outcome. You feel alienated because you perceive
this as a wrongdoing, and you’re now going to take aggressive action.
Anger is really like a poison to anyone in the betting world. It clouds your
judgment, and you end up taking action that you probably wouldn’t have in a
different state of mind.
Impatience is another form of anger and one that really needs to be avoided
when it comes to any kind of gambling. If you need to win quickly or things just
aren’t happening fast enough for you, it’ll lead to even more possibly harmful
emotions, like aggressiveness or frustration.
The ideal situation is to place a bet for the fun of it and wait it out to
see if you’ve won. The winning is exciting, but if it’s a loss, it’s a small one
that doesn’t have any severe impact on your life financially or mentally.
When you turn anger inward, it can be just as detrimental. Let’s say you did
stake some money that you really shouldn’t have, or you went against your gut
feeling and opted for the other team because the odds were more in your favor.
What happens then?
You may not act out and make matters worse, but you can cause yourself a lot
of pain by beating yourself up mentally. This projected reaction is something
that should be considered before you ever submit a bet slip or do any gambling
for real money. How will you feel if you lose?
Although you didn’t make a bet with any frustration or resentment, it’s
important to think it all through first. If you know losing will cause you to
feel mad at yourself, then take a minute and reevaluate the situation. How about
lowering the stakes? Just put something small on there for fun. If that’s even
too much, then just make a friendly wager for non-monetary stakes with someone
you know. The loser cleans the house, makes dinner, or has to wear a silly hat
It’s never wise to take a chance if you know that you have the possibility of
a backlash that will be harmful to you. Just take your time and look at all of
Sadness is closer to fear when it comes to your emotions in conjunction with
sports betting or any other form of gambling. You’re more apt to make some bad
choices right out of the gate. You don’t even need to wait for the results of
your bet, as you’re already in an altered state.
Being sad can also take many shapes, such as discouragement, disappointment,
hopelessness, despair, disconnection, and regret.
Obviously, they’re all stages of sadness. You can be disappointed and get
over it quickly. For example, maybe you were counting on your team to pull off a
big upset, and it didn’t happen. Yes, you’re complaining and probably not in the
happiest of moods, but the mild sadness will likely not affect your life all
If your discouragement is more chronic, though, or has a more significant
impact on your physical well-being, then there’s cause for concern.
Discouragement can feed into worry or panic and prompt you to make some poor
decisions moving forward.
Just as sadness relates to fear-based feelings, it also can prompt reactions
like anger can. If you’re hopeless or in real despair, you may continue making
bets or increasing your stakes until you get an outcome that you think will make
you feel better and take away your sadness. That’s not usually the case, though.
Ongoing depression or chronic feelings of anguish or hopelessness aren’t
going to be cured by one winning bet slip. There’s more to it than that.
Now, if you enjoy sports betting as a hobby and are a fan of individual
teams, there’s a different way of looking at things. It may bring you joy to
follow the games, and putting a little money down enhances that. So, gambling
will most likely not be a contributor to your sadness. It can actually be a mood
booster for you.
It’s difficult to make wise choices when your emotions are clouded, but if
you can look at both sides of the picture with objectivity, you can tell when
you should be moving forward with an activity like betting. It can be a fun
distraction for some people at certain times. So to say that everyone who is
experiencing sadness should steer clear of it would be unfair as well. But the
problem gamblers who are easily manipulated by their emotions are an entirely
Joy or Happiness
It’s interesting because the first three categories of emotions can be
categorized as cautionary tales when it comes to gambling. When discussing joy
or happiness, though, you may immediately be thinking that they equate to a
green light – “go for it.”
That’s not necessarily the case. Yes, it’s better to make a bet or do any
gambling with a good outlook on life than a bad one. You want to be in a content
state of mind without worries or fears affecting your judgment. Feeling good can
help you to make much better decisions, or it can encourage you to be a bit more
Think about it-if you’re feeling overly optimistic or inspired, losing some
money may be a catalyst to prompt you to keep going. You “know” you’re destined
to win because you feel good and confident.
Admittedly, that does often happen. When you’re in a happy mindset, you tend
to attract better situations and outcomes, but not always. Your good state of
mind may be independent of gambling, and it’s just not your day to win money.
Now, for punters who look at betting as a fun and social hobby and stay
within their budget, bring on that good mood! It’s only going to make for an
even better experience. Place some bets, watch the game with friends, and
hopefully cash in on a winning ticket (or not). It all feels good to you.
But if you take your good feelings and turn them into a state of
invincibility, then you could set yourself up for a fall. Be hopeful,
optimistic, and excited, but be realistic about how much you can afford to
stake. And you’ll want to examine both sides of the coin. What happens if you do
lose your bet(s)? Does your good mood fall by the wayside? If so, reevaluate
your actions. Happiness is precious. You want to maintain it for as long as
Jealousy or Shame
These weren’t explicitly called out in any of the four categories, but do fit
into the anger and sadness realm. They are emotions that come up quite often
regarding unsuccessful gambling ventures, so they bear individual focus.
Although we don’t like to admit it, we do compare ourselves to others. Not
just in the way we look or our stature, but with the individual events that
happen to us on a daily basis. Jealousy can creep into the betting world every
time you stake a prediction.
First of all, you’re seeing odds that are based on favorites and underdogs.
You know that, within the entire betting pool, someone is going to be
successful, even if it’s not you. Although you’re doing your best to make the
most educated and logical prediction, sometimes you win, and sometimes you lose.
It’s the nature of gambling.
Even if you’re not seeing someone physically turn in a winning bet slip when
you’re walking away defeated, you know it’s happening, and that can cause that
enviousness to appear and sometimes prompt some unexpected action.
If he (or she) did it, why can’t I?
So you make another bet. No, you didn’t plan to invest any more in your
gambling activity, at least not for a while. But, hey, they won, and you want to
as well. You can see what could happen when you start playing the comparison
Here’s another emotion that doesn’t do anyone any good. It can cause outward
harm or internal torment.
Why is it so prevalent in gambling? Because we don’t like being wrong; it’s
as simple as that. Whether anyone else knows it or not, we see it, and it can be
frustrating or even worse.
It can appear in mild ways. For example, you bragged about your “sure thing”
to friends or family. Maybe you’ve spent those winnings before you had them,
just to find out that you made a bad bet and now had to eat crow. That’s not too
bad, though, right? I mean, who doesn’t make mistakes on a daily basis?
People that have bet too much or chased after the elusive win only to find
themselves in a terrible spot can experience shame. They might have been so sure
that they’d eventually cash out something that they kept chasing the money, only
to be left out in the cold. The personal humiliation they feel, the beating
themselves up and wishing they could do it all over again, is not a fun way to
get through the day.
Maybe you’re hiding the money you lost from a significant other or lying
about how much time you’re spending in a sportsbook or casino. Any time anyone
feels the need to cover up their actions, they are feeling shame.
Awareness of Your Emotional Outlook
While several emotions should be kept out of the picture, casual betting can
be a social activity and can result in some good feelings. You can feel the
connection to others with similar interests. Even debating aspects or your
favorite team and why you’ve chosen to put money on them does form a bond with
While excessive and compulsive gambling should certainly be avoided at all costs,
there are more recreational bettors out there who just enjoy the fun of it. If
you’re in that category, it typically doesn’t result in any financial hardship
or emotional adversity.
It’s just always wise to consider your mindset before you head to your
favorite sportsbook. Think things all the way through by walking through both
outcomes-winning or losing. Be open and honest about how you’d feel if you
weren’t successful. Would you keep going? Would you feel slightly disappointed,
or would you be aggressive and act accordingly?
By just getting some clarity regarding your reactions and anticipated
actions, you’ll have a much better time, and could end up with more cash in your
pocket in the long run.
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