With all things in the world there are people that go to extremes, it is unfortunate that gambling is one of them. Online gaming should be fun. Most people play for the fun of the game and with some self discipline and hard and fast rules everyone can enjoy online gaming while limiting the threat of problem gambling. The key is to set out limits and stick to them before even sitting down at a virtual table or even a real table.
The Basics of Battling Problem Gambling
1. Remember to have fun!
a. Poker is supposed to be fun. First and foremost if you're not having fun then you probably shouldn't be playing. Poker is a game and should still be treated as such online
2. Have a plan
a. Layout a budget and time limit for playing, this will help set an exact amount of money that you are willing to play with that is separate from your rent and car payment money - it goes without saying, never play with rent money, Doyle Brunson never did it, neither should you
3. Don't increase your stake levels after a downswing in profits
a. Bankroll management 101: don't increase your stake level to recoup losses on lower stakes - downswings happen you just have to roll with them instead of reacting and going on tilt
4. Never play Drunk, Angry, or Depressed
a. If you're either drunk, angry or depressed this means your judgment is being altered and can hurt your chances of sticking to your plan
b. One pro, Ilari "Ziigmund" Sahamies, has admitted that he would be much richer if he had stopped playing high stakes poker online while drunk, when sober he is one of the best in the world, while drunk he bleeds money
Use the Poker Room's Tools
All of the largest online poker rooms have their own player management programs that allow players to opt out of certain games such as Blackjack in their own Self Exclusion programs. More importantly rooms like Full Tilt Poker and PokerStars allow their Self Exclusion programs set amounts of time that players can block themselves from coming online and playing. This can be for as little as 12 hours or even 180 days and this is something the poker rooms offer willingly.
The tools are offered because the poker rooms want you to enjoy your time there. The more you enjoy your time playing online the more you'll come back and keep having fun. You can't do that if you go bust. They want to help.
Importance of Bankroll Management
The easiest way for any player to maintain a proper frame of mind when playing is to observe correct bankroll management. Pros across all experience levels, age, nationality, and variation teach bankroll management first and foremost. This goes hand in hand with Step #2 of the Basic listed above: Have a plan.
Bankroll Management seems simple because it really is. Maintain a distinct separation between "poker" funds and "life" funds. Always make sure that poker funds never take away from money for life. Paying bills and rent are very important, obviously, but think about it, you can't play online if you don't have a home or your electricity bill paid off.
For tips on how to follow basic bankroll management and understanding stake levels Pokerspace has provided a number of great bankroll management courses in their school. Check out this lesson on the Introduction to Money Management.
Beyond setting up a plan and utilizing the poker room's range of helpful exclusion tools you can be well on your way to preventing problem gaming, especially when utilizing proper bankroll management. But remember that if you ever feel that you truly have a problem and need help Gamblers Anonymous, Responsible Gambling Council, and the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Commission have some spectacular resources to help you.
Remember to have fun!
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