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The Psychology Of Casino Games

Jack Harris
by Jack Harris
Psychology and Casino Games

Did you ever wonder what happens in gamblers' minds that makes them want to keep playing even when they are on a losing streak? Or what drives them to plan entire trips with the sole purpose of playing poker or roulette? Most would argue it's the pure desire to earn money in a fun and simple way. Others would suggest it is a mysterious, mesmerising, almost hypnotising mix of risk and adrenaline rush. But more recent psychology studies seem to have found a different answer: it's all in the brain. Apparently, there are specific chemical and psychological processes that are triggered in the brain of a casino player who is about to wager on casino games and win.


What Happens To Our Brain When We Gamble?

When we place good, winning bets, our brain enables the reward system that consists of a series of circuits. These circuits will also connect with other different parts of the brain and make us feel pleased and motivated to keep playing. This is what usually happens when we win a jackpot or receive a compliment. The brain sends out a signal with the help of neurotransmitter chemicals, and it mostly focuses on the opioid system that is responsible for making us feel pleasure. Among these chemicals, dopamine plays a significant role, as it is responsible for making us want to keep playing over and over again. We feel motivated to win new rewards and figure out which events could lead us to these rewards.

Risk VS Fear: Types Of Gamblers And Their Motivation

The risk associated with a game of poker and the potential reward of a game of pokies for real money is two of the basic elements that define a bet. We anticipate a win, but at the same time, we may also want to make up for any money that we've lost in the past. So winning the bet will focus less on these thrills and more on the money matter. According to Alison Harris from the Department of Psychology at Claremont McKenna College, gamblers who are more "loss-averse” react at a deeper emotional level to the thought of losing a game than to the thrill of a win.

In other words, a player who chooses to play blackjack online and wager AU$10 could be more afraid of the thought of losing their wager than they are excited at the thought they could win a $20 bet. Nobel Memorial winner and psychologist Daniel Kahneman, famous for his exquisite work on decision-making and the psychology of judgment has completed a few pieces of research on the topic and come up with some intriguing conclusions. Among them, the fact that losses seem to hurt us more than wins make us feel good. It would also appear that the majority of gamblers do not actually place their bets unless they can win double more than the money they would lose.

Moreover, it also possible to switch our views on gambling with the help of regular mental exercises that can change our emotional responses to the idea of losing a bet or a game.

The Odds Of Winning Are So Small – So Why Do We Keep Playing?

All gamblers know that the casino has the greatest house edge – and that the probability of beating these odds is small. No matter if we play roulette online or watch a live dealer spin the wheel in front of our eyes, wager on craps and baccarat games, or opt for a game of bingo, one thing we all know is that the odds are always against us and most favourable for the casino. Despite this all-so-clear “tip”, we keep playing. How come? According to a study completed by Dr. Luke Clark at the University of British Columbia, players like to apply the so-called illusion of control that makes them think there is a way they can create the desired outcome. Even though they know most casino games are games of chance, gamblers feel compelled to win.

Near misses and personal choice are also powerful factors that influence the wagering habits of players. They stick a while longer at the poker table, and they keep placing bet after bet in an attempt to recover the money they've lost. As humans, we feel the need to be in control, or at least feel like we are in control. The actual unpredictable character of a casino game is what makes us think we can gain control over it one way or another. We choose our favourite seats at the poker or roulette table, we blow on our dice before throwing them, or we carry a rabbit's foot with us whenever we gamble. We believe we are always just one more hit or spin away from a big win.

What Do Pros Do?

Professional casino players or sports bettors spend a lot of time assessing risks and probabilities tied to the games they play most often. They focus on constantly improving their skills, especially when it comes to games like poker, blackjack, or craps, which require more strategy. In fact, it would appear that these games alone can help players win in the long run. The more time we spend studying statistics and learning the tricks and strategies used by professional gamblers, the more often we can win.

The more new online casinos we discover, test, and join, the more our skills will improve. You can read specialised casino reviews online and focus on the freshest releases in the industry. New casinos have a few clear advantages over their more established counterparts:

  • mind-blowing welcome packages meant to allure gamblers to a brand-new venue they know nothing about;

  • new games to play – especially true for slots games and different versions of poker or roulette games;

  • top customer support, since they want to be able to connect with new members and convince them to stay;

  • mobile and live dealer games, which are not always available in all venues.

By gaining a deeper understanding of what happens in the brain when we bet, and the way we can control our gameplay, we can benefit from greater advantages.

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