The positive aspects of loss in gambling

girl thinking loss
photo by Natalie Schmid

Every voyage starts with a single step, so let’s start from a premise that virtually any gambler accepts as self-evident. Nobody plays to lose, except maybe for those who are in cahoots with the bookie or local casino, running an elaborated money laundering scheme. The purpose of gambling is to win and the only difference is that some people hope to make a living off it, while others relegate it to a secondary income.

The difference is significant, but the line can be blurred at times and many make the transition from one category to the other. Statistically, more people end up betting larger amounts as addiction insinuates, but there are also players who fear that they’ve had enough and shift into a less aggressive gear. Having said this, losing is a part of the game and the thing we debate in this article is whether there is any upside to it.

Still, gambling can get out of hand and gambling losses can destruct the life of obsessive players. If you fear you have a gambling problem read our responsible gambling guide with useful tips, helplines and resources.

Read also: How I Lost a Fortune and Found Myself at the Casino

Early losses can prevent future disasters

“If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again”. That is how the saying goes, but wouldn’t it be wiser to think twice about what went wrong and reconsider your position? We live in a society that praises perseverant people and serves them as examples for those who are less successful, as an incentive to keep trying. This or course, applies only to those who have fulfilled their goals, while those whose unbridled enthusiasm or perseverance led them to ruin, receive no such praise.

A professional poker player for example is a remarkable person, who overcame a lot of adversity to eventually become the star that he is today. By comparison, someone who tries equally hard but ends up selling his house and all his possessions to pay his debts is a degenerate. It makes no difference for the outside observer that both employed the same strategies and did their very best to succeed. All it matters is the outcome and discriminating between those who succeed and those who fail happens every day.

By losing your initial bankroll and failing to recover after depositing more money, only looks like the worst-case scenario. For many this is a wake-up call and some are smart enough to tag this as a dead end, while seeking a different way of making money. Lady luck is blind, but if it smiles benevolently upon people in their early stages of a gambling career, it can blind them too. Knowing that at an early point they’ve tasted success and exacerbating that feeling can lead people to addiction far quicker than failure.

Not everyone is suited for gambling and whether they lack the discipline, patience or money to keep playing, the outcome is the same. In this line of work where success is quantified by the money you make, it really doesn’t matter what brought you to your knees. Bad luck, the inability to play, or any outside factors won’t keep you warm, fed and happy if your gambling experience is a string of endless losses.

Losses keep gamblers grounded

As stated above, loss can bring an untimely end to a seemingly promising career of aspiring gamblers and it is definitely not the worst that can happen. Those who survived the initial stage and keep playing, can also benefit from occasional losses, even though very few realize it. When people are happy they doubt nothing, but when they are sad or hurt, they start doubting everything and doubt leads to awareness.

When you win, you are less likely to review your performance and try to determine whether luck or skill was behind your success. We take fortune for granted while blaming bad luck for everything and that is why losses are necessary every now and then. Obviously, nobody enjoys an endless winning streak but scattered losses don’t have the same impact as a downswing. The fear of losing their entire bankroll and the idea that at some point in the future gambling could backfire, provides a much-needed reality check.

Tracking performance and trying to find an explanation before searching for a way to fix the problem is a winning strategy on the long run. There is no surer trigger than a loss and the biggest ones are more likely to wake gamblers out of their success induced slumber. With proper bankroll management failures can go unnoticed or at least have a minimal impact, so the educational value of the loss outweighs the downsides.

“Expect loss, think of it, respect it, learn from it and use it in your strategy. You can’t become a great player if you have not understood loss deep down your heart. Do not fear failure. Be always ready to receive it.” Kavouras

Losses make you feel alive

Only a big tragedy can make people realize how insignificant their petty frustrations actually are, and make them appreciate what they’ve got. The beauty of losses in gambling is that even the biggest ones are not usually catastrophic, but they are greatly exaggerated when they occur. I’ve had my fair share of poker, roulette and other casino games losses, but I strongly believe that sports betting failures have the biggest impact on the psyche.
The more games you have on the betting slip, the greater the pressure and bigger stakes also tend to amplify the stress. In those seemingly fortune cases when you are just one match away from a big win, the heart starts pumping blood like crazy and the final minutes are truly insane. Anyone who spent enough time betting on sports has dozens of personal tales and hundreds of stories heard from fellow punters, about how everything went down the drain before the final whistle.

They say your entire life flashes before your eyes in the final moments. I have no clue whether this is true or false, but what I know for sure is that minutes before the end of the game, all sorts of bad memories are brought back by our scumbag brains. In most cases nothing happens and these memories get dim, only to come back to haunt us the next time we find ourselves in a similar situation.

Then again, there are those occasions when what seems impossible does occur and the opposing team levels the score or wins in the final seconds. It is during times like these that your heart skips a beat and you almost feel how all the blood is drained from your body. Contrary to popular belief, the first feeling is not of frustration and the outrage comes next, although it seems to be a visceral, instant reaction.

For one second or less, gamblers plunge into an abyss of despair and the thoughts that frequently run through their minds are truly unique. I can only speak for myself, but back in the day when sports betting used to be the biggest thing in my life, those seconds were far more intense than any victories. Interesting enough, I can still recall that crushing sensation of hopelessness and looking back, I realize that it had little, if any to do with the money itself.
I have to admit that this sort of losses made me feel alive even though the feeling came at a price. It used to look like a big price to pay, but I know now that I was wrong. The best proof is that I still remember and almost feel the burning sensation, without having any idea how much money I actually lost.

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