One of the biggest obstacles to staying stopped, chasing losses is seen by some as a classic indicator of problem gambling.
Indeed, some of the literature and websites aimed at marketing "professional" gambling, state that the biggest difference between someone who gambles to make money and someone who is a "hobby" gambler, is that the former gambles with a fixed stake and does NOT chase losses.
My problem was that when gambling I usually had a fixed stake of time, not money. I went out expecting to enjoy it for several hours and problems arose when the money ran out before the time did. In that sense I know I was a "hobby" gambler. I never expected to win and although it was a bonus, the pleasure of gambling did notdepend on my winning.
Another thing I am aware of is that when I first started to gamble - I couldn't have told you what I would do with a big win - other than to continue gambling.
I was doing well materially. I was a householder, (with a mortgage) at 20 and had a company car at 21. All that soon went and I was living in lodgings and on public transport by 25, but even then with a big win I don't think I would have thought further than to have enough to pay my debts off - which were accruing at a rate that only a compulsive gambler's can.
When I first sought help for my problem in my early 30s, it was the size of my debts and the increase in the repayments that made me seek help. I knew that it was only a matter of time before I would be unable to function as a normal human being with a job, somewhere to live and food in my belly, unless I found a way of stopping the leeching of money to the machines and began to make amends. But then there was still this idea in me that the "Big Win" would make it all okay.
So, hard as it was, I had to give this dream up in order to stay stopped. I was not going to put right the damage caused by gambling by doing more gambling.
In order to achieve this I realised these 10 things.
1) The odds are impossible.
Let's face it - if I am playing regularly on a machine that has a maximum payout of say 200 - and my debts are 40,000 - how many times would I have to win?
That's if a) I ever did walk away winning and b) I could ever wrench myself away from the thing. That was my logical mind working for a change!
2) The cost of gambling was the price I had to pay to realise that I was a compulsive gambler.
I know this might be a hard one to swallow - but I have learnt a lot about myself because of my gambling. I would have had to pay out thousands to counsellors, therapists and other professionals for this wisdom. Perhaps not as much as I have lost over the years but it is a way of writing some of the losses down in my mind.
I was stubborn. If I could have realised I had an addictive personality much earlier then I would have saved myself a lot of money and grief.
3) Other people, (non-gamblers) can lose thousands, why can't I?
There are plenty of stories out there of people who have lost money through business's going bust, scams, fires, floods and other disasters. They have pulled themselves out of it - so what is to stop me? I know one thing is that I felt bad about it because it was self-inflicted, but that is no reason not to draw a line under things and start again.
4) Thoughts about chasing losses come from my emotions.
It is my emotional mind that thinks about the losses - NOT my logical mind, (see above.) I know it's that petulant child that thinks - "it's not fair - I deserve to win."
Maybe I do, but it is not going to happen for the logical reasons already stated. Wishing it was different is not going to make it happen.
5) If I did win, I would just keep the cycle going.
If I didn't win the full amount I needed I would keep playing to win more. If I won more than I needed, I would think I could afford to gamble with the excess.
Soon I would be back to square one or worse.
6) I need to learn that there is more to life than having money.
Again - another hard one for me, but not having money has allowed me to discover I can have a good life without it. My favourite pastime, walking is free and I enjoy going to libraries etc. where they still exist. I have also learnt the value of money - how to make savings and of alternatives such as LETS.
7) If I win big, then other people lose.
Yes other poor gamblers like me or you - and if I really want the gambling industry to stop making big profits, I need to stop feeding it. The dream of the big win is what keeps the betting shops, casinos and on-line gambling sites going. A dream is all it is.
8) Dreaming of the big win gets in the way of reality.
It is not the big win which will get me out of debt. I need to really look at what the debt is and how much is needed to bring it down. Reading Robert Kelsey's book, "What's Stopping You," helped me see that my fear of failure stopped me from trying new ways to make money and thus go back to things that would never work, gambling.
I needed to concentrate on the possible.
9) It will be small steps that will make a difference.
A few extra hours at work here - finding small ways to boost my income. It may take time, but then I will save time by not gambling, not having to seek money to gamble with and not having to deal with the consequences of my gambling.
10) The Einstein rule.
Albert Einstein said that the definition of insanity is "doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." Now, I know this is true for gambling as a whole - but far more so for chasing losses. If I have chased losses before and it hasn't worked, what on earth makes me think it will work the next time?
Be like Einstein - don't chase losses!
So there you have my 10 reasons for not chasing losses - there may be others that I have forgotten or you may know of others. If so I would appreciate your ideas in the comments below. Have a good gambling free life.