There’s a lot of psychology behind the motives of casinos, and to the untrained eye, it may seem like a bunch of regular buildings that have a bunch of games that could potentially make you thousands in cash. However, some things are out of the ordinary and one of the main things that you’ll notice over time is that there are no windows or clocks on the casino floor and for good reason. This is to keep casino players in a state of hyperfocus and this is successfully implemented by getting rid of any reference to time or daylight.
However, there are more subliminal elements implemented by casinos after years of research and they’re meant to keep players in a perpetual loop that keeps them coming back. Below you’ll find a variety of psychological factors regarding gambling and winning the jackpot.
There are a variety of reasons why people gamble, some enjoy the rush and the uncertainty of the outcome, while others are simply playing to win. However, it can’t be ignored that the act of placing a bet is quite paradoxical as it’s a widely accepted belief that “the house always wins”, and this is due to the odds being set up in a manner that they always hand an edge to the casino which means that it maintains a steady profit. Even with this information, players across the world are more than willing to try their hand and beat the casino.
A study showed that players often overestimate their odds of winning along with the effects of personal choice bets and near-misses. These gambling features are simply implemented by casinos to give the player the illusion of control which means that the player believes that their skill is enough to overcome the odds, which certainly isn’t true. Research shows that when a player receives a win, there is consistent brain activity in the striatum which acts as the main component of the reward circuit. This region of the brain displays the same activity when exposed to sexual stimuli, drugs (such as cocaine), and food.
This is one of the clear indications that once someone places a successful bet, they’re more than willing to give it another go to maintain a high that they never knew that they had.
There’s a lot of excitement surrounding gambling, and certain games such as roulette, slots, and even blackjack, are incredibly exciting. Unfortunately, many players often ignore the odds attached to these games and take a rather ignorant approach to play. This is the equivalent of trying to find a needle in a haystack, but the haystack is hanging from a worn rope and the only means of finding the needle is with a short stick. Not impossible, but difficult.
When anticipating a win, the brain releases dopamine and the excitement that comes along with it softens the blow of losing as the player is more than likely riding gambling high at this point.
When anticipating a win, there are times where the player would win and this places them in a subconscious crossroads state of mind. The player could either call it a day and leave with what they’ve won, or they could continue, not because they want more money, but because they’re genuinely enjoying themselves. This is where it can be potentially dangerous as there are multiple outcomes in making this choice. The player could believe that they’re on a lucky streak and continue until loss begins to take back what’s been won. They could also enter a competitive state where they’re hell-bent on beating the game. Winning is a lot of fun, but some players don’t necessarily know how to win, and this often leads to unhealthy gambling habits.
The real danger is with electronic games, as they have been updated to give you a brief experience of what it’s like to win a large jackpot. Older slots used to light up and ring when the jackpot was hit, but now, slots often light up for any reason, regardless of how small the “win” is. And the real kicker is that the win is a loss, as you’ll still be behind after betting half of your bankroll only to leave with $20.
Reward prediction errors are another factor that players often overlook. A good example of this would be in a game of blackjack, it’s your first time playing and you’re on a hard 18, and you hit, the dealer then gives you a 3 which gives you 21. You win the game, unexpectedly, and during your next game, you do the same thing again, which also results in a win. A pattern is born and you’re willing to hit on incredibly high values, but this then results in a string of losses. You then reevaluate your approach to the game and try to hit on lower values and stand once you get to a higher total. This proves to work, and again you experience the same unexpected positivity, as you expected failure from this approach.
In actual fact, this is what a reward prediction error is and it’s often responsible for players adopting bad tactics as they may have worked before.
While there are proven strategies that work when it comes to repeating or increasing a bet, there are also bad habits players pick up due to their belief of inevitability. A prime example would be a player that loses 6 straight rounds of roulette and makes the same bet over and over as he believes that there has to be one round that goes his way. The problem with this approach is that he’s not using the Martingale Strategy, it’s just the same bet, and even if he wins, he won’t make up for the loss that he’d taken.
No doubt, playing at a casino is incredibly exciting, but excitement may prove to be a downfall as there’s no way to stop your brain from producing the dopamine that comes with it. The perpetual state of excitement then takes over, and this leads to poor decision making and perhaps even a string of losses. This also goes hand-in-hand with chasing those losses and you’ll end up repeating the same process with every small win you get.
We’ve discussed how betting takes its effect on the mind, along with the process of winning, losing, and everything in between. However, there’s one vital factor that we’re about to cover and that’s risk versus reward. What this means is the chance of losing money is aligned with how much money can be gained. So, if you were playing on a slot machine, and you select the max bet option, the risk is higher than what a low bet would be, but as the risk increases, so does the reward.
This is something players need to consider, as this is a factor that needs to be taken into account when compiling an effective strategy when playing. By sticking to low-risk bets, the losses are minimal and you’re more likely to see success than putting everything on the line with huge bets. This is also irresponsible, and it will ruin your gambling experience in the long run.