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How to Handle a Losing Streak

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bigstock Cartoon_Success_4287274If you go to the casino on a regular basis, you have undoubtedly had your share of winning and losing sessions. The excitement of gambling comes from the anticipation that the next spin of the slot machine or hand of cards may be a winner. When we visit the casino, we hope that we will get lucky and hit a winning streak that will allow us to take home a little extra money. Of course, it is just as likely that we may experience the opposite results.

I think everyone knows that the casino has the edge on most games, and will win in the long run. However, in the short term, luck will be a big factor in determining whether you win or lose. This is true of games that have positive expectations as well as games with a high house edge. When we visit the casino, we are at the mercy of the fickle goddess Lady Luck. Over the course of decades of casino visits, I have noticed that luck rarely alternates between winning and losing sessions, but rather runs in streaks of several wins followed by several losing sessions. Some of these streaks can be quite long, which is fantastic when you are winning, but it can be quite disheartening when you have a prolonged losing streak.

I remember a line I read many years ago, “Winning is easy; but losing brings out the true character in a person. How you handle adversity is a true test of you inner strength.”

I think that everybody who has experienced a prolonged losing streak can relate to this quote. Another quote I often hear regarding gambling is that you don’t know you were on a streak until it ends. This is usually associated with the strategy that you should bet more when you are winning, and less when you are losing. Personally, I believe that you do know when you are on a streak, especially a losing streak. When you have lost numerous sessions in a row, you can usually conclude that you are on a losing streak. Once you determine that you are having a bad run, you then have to decide how to deal with it to save your bankroll — and sometimes, your emotional wellbeing. The last thing you want to do is go on “tilt”.

Going on tilt is the expression used when poker players become upset and lose control of their emotions. Consequently, they start making poor decisions, and play badly and irrationally. Going on tilt is not confined just to poker players. Anyone who gambles on any casino game can find themselves on tilt. Once you start losing money, you are a prime candidate. You may have lost and are trying to make your money back quickly by raising the size of your bets, or playing a higher denomination slot machine. This will usually just lead to more losses.

Several months ago, I wrote about one of my most profitable casino trips. Well, as things seem to have a way of balancing out, last month I had one of my worst. It reminded me of a trip I had several years ago when I lost every single session I played for several days straight. Having gone through it before, I knew what to do after several losing sessions, and I’ll share some of my tips for handling losses.


I was playing blackjack when my streak of bad luck started. I would be dealt a good hand, but the dealer kept getting better hands. This type of situation can get you a little angry, as well as stressed. First and foremost, you have to remember that the dealer is only doing his/her job, so it is not their fault that you are losing. Don’t take it out on the dealer. Try to relax. Take a deep breath. Breathing gets more oxygen to the brain, and will help clear your thinking. This is the first thing you are taught if you have ever tried any form of meditation or deep relaxation exercises. It’s very simple, and can be done right at the table or machine. Take a deep breath through your nose. Count to four as you are doing this, filling your lower diaphragm. Hold your breath while counting to four again. Then, slowly exhale through your mouth. Repeat this four times.

Take a Break

If deep breathing does not help sooth you, get up and leave the table or machine. Take a walk around the casino, or go to the rest room to get away for a few minutes. If the walk does not calm you down, try washing your face and hands. If you are still feeling upset then you should take a longer break. Go get something to eat. Sitting down away from the games to have a cup of coffee or soft drink can help you relax.

Change Games

After taking a break, if you want to continue playing, it might be helpful to change games. Starting off fresh with a different game may help to change your luck. If you find that you are still losing but want to keep playing, then try lowering the denomination of the game you are playing. This way you won’t be losing as much. If losing is still upsetting you, then it is time to quit and do something else.

How you handle your losing sessions will also be determined by the length of your casino stay. If you are on a day trip, you have the option of just going home and putting an end to your losing day. Of course, if you have flown to spend several days at the casino, you can’t just pack up and go home. However, there is nothing forcing you to stay in the casino gambling. You can take time off to do some non-gambling activities. This is another reason why you should always plan some other activities as part of your gambling vacation.

Gambling should be fun. We all expect to have ups and downs, but keep in mind that a long losing streak does not have to spoil your entire vacation if you take the time to plan in advance what to do if you find yourself in a losing situation.

Until next time, remember: “Luck comes and goes…Knowledge Stays Forever.”

Bill Burton is the author of 1000 Best Casino Gambling Secrets and Get the Edge at Low Limit Texas Hold’em available online at billburton.com. Burton is also an instructor for Golden Touch Craps: thecrapsclub.com.

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