Gambler’s Conceit 

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Gambler’s conceit. Gambling is one of the recreational activities that naturally comes with a lot of risks. However, not every gambler plays the game with the same risk levels. Some are more inclined to take risks than others. Some stop when risky behavior isn’t yielding rewards. Others, however, think that the only way to stop risky behavior is to continue indulging. We intend to address this last set of people in this article. Such behavior is classified as Gambler’s Conceit. 

Gambler’s Conceit describes a situation where a person tries to stop risky behavior by actively doing it. The gambler believes taking unnecessary risks until they win is the only way to break free from this habit.

Gambler's Conceit

Understanding the Risk

Gambler’s conceit is a problem but players don’t know that they have a gambling problem until it is too late. Some players continue to gamble even when they win. This is because they convince themselves that they need to stay ahead to accommodate possible future losses. The famous behavioral economist David J. Ewing coined this phrase.

While this behavior is observed during different forms of gambling, it is often seen during casino games that depend significantly on chance. A typical example is a roulette game. Getting the winning color on the roulette wheel is based completely on chance and not luck. Even if the player is on a losing streak, they keep playing and convince themselves they’ll stop when they win. 

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A Type of Fallacy

Gambler’s conceit is a type of Gambler’s fallacy. With Gambler’s fallacy, the player believes that chances, either good or bad, mature during a game. So, if a player is on a losing streak, it will eventually end and a winning streak will follow.

On the other hand, every winning streak will eventually end and it will be followed by a losing streak. Just like gambler’s conceit, gambler’s fallacy is illogical. It is based on the idea that past events in gambling tend to influence future events. If a gambler gets black on a roulette wheel frequently, it’ll eventually stop and the gambler starts getting red.

Also known as the Monte Carlo fallacy, the gambler’s fallacy doesn’t put the concept of chance into play. Most casino games are historically independent. So, being on a losing streak doesn’t guarantee that you will eventually enter a winning streak and vice versa.

A Flawed Feeling of Self-control

The player convinces themselves that they have the self-control required to quit when they’re ahead of their winnings. This method is flawed because a player who is ahead of his winnings is not likely to stop. A player who is winning has an incentive to keep playing and wagering higher amounts of money. This increases the risk rather than reducing it.

Gamblers who are ahead of their winnings might eventually feel a confidence boost that will propel them to keep playing. They might even convince themselves that their winnings are based on their skills rather than chance making it unwise to stop. So, the players will end up playing when they are on a winning streak and playing while they are on a winning streak. There is no actual risk reduction.

Another term you’ll most likely come across as a frequent gambler is gambler’s ruin. This theory states that a gambler with finite resources will eventually go broke if they keep playing against someone with unlimited resources in a fair game or a game of negative-expectation.

So, if you have infinite resources, you will eventually win if you keep playing. However, if the player has limited resources and only focuses on placing a fixed bet when they win but doesn’t reduce the amount when they lose, they will get broke eventually. Since no player has infinite resources, the second option is more likely than the first.

The House Always Wins

No matter how you decide to look at it or which theory you choose to follow, the house always wins at the end of the day. Casinos set out to make a profit. The house edge always makes the casino more likely to keep the player’s money than payout winners. This is how the phrase “the house always wins” was coined. This is why casinos like to keep visitors playing whether they are losing or winning. If a player is losing steadily, the casino will keep the money.

When the player is winning, the casino will want the player to keep going with hopes that they will eventually lose and the money will return to the casino. The only way to beat the house is to quit while you’re ahead. As soon as you’ve won, stop the game and leave the casino no matter how tempted you are to keep playing. 

If the house always wins, why do gamblers who aren’t ahead of their winnings keep playing? Some people lose their savings, their homes, and even their families because of gambling but they still keep playing. According to a psychologist at Nottingham Trent University, Mark Griffiths, most people don’t gamble just to win money.

The money they win during the game is a bonus. Some frequent gamblers are addicts. When you can’t stop yourself from gambling even when you’re losing money and you’re spending your savings, you might have a gambling problem.

Gambler’s Conceit and Hormones

Each time a person gamblers, they feel a rush of endorphins and adrenaline. These hormones are released whether they are winning or losing.  A person addicted to this feeling doesn’t care what is at stake. A research conducted by the University of Stanford in California showed that 92% of gamblers have a loss threshold. So, when they lost money to a particular level or lost a particular amount of money for a day, they would leave the casino. However, losing money, no matter how significant, didn’t spoil the overall experience. However, they enjoy the experience more when they win. So, these gamblers would winningly come back to the casino over and over again to satisfy that urge.

Losing in a casino from time to time also influences a player’s positive response to winning. So, a player who has lost money a few times is most likely going to feel more satisfied with winning than a player who has never lost. Players who had less expectations to win have elevated feelings of reward compared to those with high expectations. This isn’t just limited to what players said, brain scans also confirmed that there was a difference between both cases. These brain scans showed that dopamine neurons were more active in the brain when the expectation of winning was less.

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A Note of Caution

Gambler’s Conceit is just one of the many fallacies that have been coined to describe the irrational behavior of some frequent gamblers. Taking more risk as an excuse to stop taking risks will only make things more difficult and leave you broke. If you want to stop gambling because you’re losing, all you have to do is stop gambling. Staying ahead of your winnings requires a high level of self-control and nor every gambler can exhibit this sort of self-control. If you notice that you can’t stop playing even when you’re staying ahead of your winnings, then gambler’s conceit doesn’t work for you. 

Bottom line

No matter what you’re playing or how much you have to spend, try as much as possible to always gamble responsibly. Gambling even when you’re losing money might make you feel high thanks to the rush of hormones. However, as soon as the hormones stabilize, reality will hit and you’ll feel terrible for wasting money that you don’t have. If you can’t seem to curb your bad gambling habits, you should seek professional help before you lose everything you have including your loved ones.

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