Does thinking like a winner actually help you win?
In the gambling industry, few traits can be more detrimental to your bankroll than false positivity. As evidence, let’s consider the curious case of Aunt C, the retired school teacher who became a slot machine aficionado. Believe it or not, regular slots players like Aunt C are among casinos’ favorite group of players. By regularly playing and coming close to winning, they maintain positivity, leading to additional play in the future, and, in many cases, more cash in the casino’s stockpile. So, why is this the case?
According to recent scientific studies, slim losses, or near-misses, are among the most dangerous possible results for gamblers. This is a result of what scientists refer to as ‘the dopamine effect’. The release of this feel-good hormone is known to trigger a feeling following a near-miss that’s remarkably similar to that of a small win. The resulting theta-band activity in the frontal cortex of the brain is enough to inspire gamblers to come back for another round, even if they aren’t winning.
So, what’s the deal with these theta waves? Well, if you’ve ever zoned out during a business meeting, you’ll understand the feeling they can create. Near-misses can cause similar effects. Put simply, theta oscillations make people more likely to act in a way that gains rewards and avoids punishment in order to achieve goals. When you’re in this mindset, you become more likely to fall prey to the non-stop action on offer at the casino instead of making safe, rational choices.
Gamblers high on theta activity are bad news for everyone. These players are statistically less likely to adapt their behavior to maximize earnings in a game of chance. At the blackjack table, for example, this could translate into higher stakes and, as a result, bigger losses in the short-term.
If you’re still not convinced, consider your last trip to the slot machines. If the reels stopped one rotation shy of a winning combination, did that change your opinion as compared to a loss that was nowhere near securing a return? If so, this is likely a result of heightened theta activity. Unlike statistically even bets, such as the flip of a coin, casino games don’t provide 50 percent odds of success. When you’re down and pushing to meet the breakeven point, your positive thinking is actually putting you at risk of losing more cash along the way.
Despite what you might hear from psychologists, thinking like a winner when you’re losing in the casino is a great way to turn a small loss into a big one. The best way to avoid transforming from a near-miss into a cash cow for your local gambling hall is to keep a firm grasp on reality, especially as it relates to your odds in the casino. If you find yourself chasing the opportunity to break even, it may be beneficial to put your winning attitude on hold in order to realistically evaluate the situation. Sometimes, a slim loss is the best case scenario at the casino.