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How to Gamble Responsibly

The 10 Commandments of Disciplined Gambling

My family members are big gamblers. Every Summer, they fly out to Las Vegas for five days, and they have a blast hopping from casino to casino (when I turn 21, you bet I'll be going with them!). The best part about it is the fact that when they lose, they never lose too much — after years of playing on slot machines and joining card tables, they're experts on placing bets responsibly. If you're a fan of gaming for cash, too, take heed: here are the 10 commandments of disciplined gambling (shout-out to my clan for these tips!).

1. Thou shalt set a loss limit and stick to it.

"Never go beyond that amount," my dad warned over text (I can just hear his tone in my head). And he's right — it's of the utmost importance to set a loss limit and stand firm. Keep in mind that whatever you bring, you must be willing to lose.

2. Thou shalt never gamble more than what is affordable.

That last one segued nicely into this. Never, ever gamble more than you can afford. In short, know what an appropriate loss limit is based on your income and savings designated for recreation. Don't set it any higher than what's reasonable for you (and you know what's reasonable!).

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3. If thou wins, thou shalt set the money aside.

My aunt shared this little gem with me. Take your winnings and set them aside. Don't just stick those dollars in more machines, because what's the purpose? You already won. "Only use the money you brought with you," Aunt Carol texted. If I could insert a thumbs-up emoji here, I would.

4. Thou shalt never bring an ATM card.

Which brings me to my next point. Before you hit the casino, take out the cash you're willing to lose and bring only that amount. "Leave your credit and debit cards at home!" Aunt Debbie messaged with an exclamation mark for emphasis. It's true — if you take them with you, you could be tempted to spend more than you should.

5. Thou shalt not become intoxicated whilst gambling.

Those free drinks in casinos can be tempting, but think about it — you're guaranteed to lose your focus (and your money) if you get wasted during blackjack, plus it's a great way to really screw over the other people at your table. A tiny bit tipsy is fine, but drunk off your butt is definitely, definitely not.

6. Thou shalt never play an unfamiliar game.

My dad told me that placing your bets in a game where you don't know the odds or the correct way to play is an all-around awful idea. "You will lose," he said simply. Seems pretty logical.

7. Thou shalt divide up thy loss limit on a vacation.

Do not waste all your money on the first day of your trip — my family has seen it happen, and it's not pretty. In fact, losing all your money right away makes for a downright lousy vacation, so always make sure to divide up your loss limit based on the days you're there.

8. Thou shalt move from place to place.

There may not be specific scientific evidence that says you win more when you play different machines, but it's common sense to try your hand at something else if one game just isn't working out for you. "I lose a lot because I don't move, thinking it will pay out, and it doesn't," Aunt Carol said. Don't be afraid to give up your place in favor of another one in a new location.

9. Thou shalt enjoy thyself.

"Gambling should be fun, win or lose," my dad texted. "Like going to a ball game. If not, you're probably betting too much, taking it too seriously, or counting on winning. Enjoy yourself, or what's the point?" Well said, Marty.

10. Thou shalt walk away.

Don't count on winning, but know when to walk away if you are. "Don't give it back; it's your money now," my dad said. And if you're losing? Also a good time to exit the premises. After all, you may have better luck next time.

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