Emotional Control & Discipline

Control Emotions

As a simplified way of looking at it, sports bettors and gamblers fall into one of two types of people.

The first is the person who looks at betting as a fun and social activity. He or she exercises control, and like , has a loss threshold and typically won't risk any more than that.

The second is the one whose prime motivation is to take a risk to win. This type of bettor is driven and has one end game.

Regardless of which category someone falls into, emotions can override intent and the outcome. Even a casual bettor who is just being social can get caught up in the competition of it or let a disappointment trigger unplanned action.

Emotions are always with us, but we need to know when to keep them in check, and that can be challenging. You may have had one of the worst mornings of your life, but it would be unwise to go into your office and throw things around or fiercely yell at your co-workers. There's validity to the way you feel, but you have to be strong enough not to let your behavior follow suit.

If you're in the second category and you have the focused intent to come out ahead whenever you stake a bet, it's even more vital to pay attention to your reactions and actions. If you're out there operating without some limits, your mindset can be extremely detrimental to you.

The Four Basic Human Emotions

You could sit there and write lists that go on and on with all types of feelings you may have or have had at some point in your life. But most psychologists and behaviorists agree that all of the different twists and turns our emotions take fall into one of four categories.

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The scale formerly included a total of six, but "surprise" now falls into fear, and "disgust" is part of anger.

When you're betting, your emotions can benefit you if you're aware of them and make use of them appropriately. Or they can be extremely harmful, not only to your immediate outcome, but they can have long-lasting implications on your regular day to day life.


  • Insecurity
  • Hesitance
  • Cautiousness
  • Distrust
  • Panic
  • Worry

Fear, like anger and sadness, may seem like an obvious one to avoid. And, yes, that's true if it's overwhelming in your life. With particular regard to finances, it can be the kiss of death to gamblers. Money worries are a big reason why even the occasional bettor can make matters worse.

If you're in dire straits and look at your bet as your last hope, the result will usually not end up as you would have liked.

Maybe you did place a wager that turned out to be successful, and it gave you a little bit of relief, but it still doesn't solve your problem. When you're in the midst of real panic, you could just turn around and "let it ride," hoping that the next result is successful and makes things that much better. People who are in the depths of financial despair want their lives to turn around completely, so they'll keep going and trying to accumulate as much money as possible.

What happens then? Many times they push it just one step too far and end up back where they started or worse yet.

The emotion of fear can take many shapes, though. Fear can make you suspicious or distrustful. Maybe you think that the bookmaker is dishonest or unfair with its odds, so you place some bets to prove that and try to one-up the operation.

On the other hand, there are times when fear can benefit you, not only in gambling but in all areas of life. It can make you cautious and keep you away from areas that don't appear to be safe. It will prompt you to keep your doors locked and take other precautions, just in case.

Being timid in gambling may inspire you to stake very conservative bets that don't affect your livelihood regardless of the outcome. There's a big difference in betting your last $100 and betting a hundred that's just pocket money to you.


  • Frustrated
  • Impatient
  • Offended
  • Resentful
  • Aggressive
  • Vindictive

Anger can present itself in so many ways. It can be pure and simple rage manifesting itself physically, vocally, or internally. It can also present as resentment, impatience, frustration, aggressiveness, vindictiveness, or even as boredom.

Being afraid can also turn to anger, just as acting on your rage can end up making you fearful in the end. While everyone feels these emotions, they are something you want to deal with independently. You don't want to allow them to creep into your decision-making process.

The emotion of anger is one that can be exhibited in two different directions, and both have an impact on betting. Your feelings can be projected outward, or the can turn inward and really do some personal damage to your psyche.

An outward expression could mean placing additional bets or increasing your stakes much higher than you had ever expected. Maybe you just lost a "sure thing," and you are frustrated.

Your first inclination might be to get that money back and redeem yourself. You're mad at the team, an individual player, or even the sportsbook. They wronged you, and it's their fault, but you're going to get even with them and get everything back and even more.

There are all kinds of emotions swirling around at the time. You're frustrated in your unexpected outcome. You feel alienated because you perceive this as a wrongdoing, and you're now going to take aggressive action.

Anger is really like a poison to anyone in the betting world. It clouds your judgment, and you end up taking action that you probably wouldn't have in a different state of mind.

Impatience is another form of anger and one that really needs to be avoided when it comes to any kind of gambling. If you need to win quickly or things just aren't happening fast enough for you, it'll lead to even more possibly harmful emotions, like aggressiveness or frustration.

The ideal situation is to place a bet for the fun of it and wait it out to see if you've won. The winning is exciting, but if it's a loss, it's a small one that doesn't have any severe impact on your life financially or mentally.

When you turn anger inward, it can be just as detrimental. Let's say you did stake some money that you really shouldn't have, or you went against your gut feeling and opted for the other team because the odds were more in your favor. What happens then?

You may not act out and make matters worse, but you can cause yourself a lot of pain by beating yourself up mentally. This projected reaction is something that should be considered before you ever submit a bet slip or do any gambling for real money. How will you feel if you lose?

Although you didn't make a bet with any frustration or resentment, it's important to think it all through first. If you know losing will cause you to feel mad at yourself, then take a minute and reevaluate the situation. How about lowering the stakes? Just put something small on there for fun. If that's even too much, then just make a friendly wager for non-monetary stakes with someone you know. The loser cleans the house, makes dinner, or has to wear a silly hat all day.

It's never wise to take a chance if you know that you have the possibility of a backlash that will be harmful to you. Just take your time and look at all of the angles.


  • Disappointed
  • Depressed
  • Discouraged
  • Disconnected
  • Regretful
  • Despairing
  • Hopeless
  • Anguished

Sadness is closer to fear when it comes to your emotions in conjunction with sports betting or any other form of gambling. You're more apt to make some bad choices right out of the gate. You don't even need to wait for the results of your bet, as you're already in an altered state.

Being sad can also take many shapes, such as discouragement, disappointment, hopelessness, despair, disconnection, and regret.

Obviously, they're all stages of sadness. You can be disappointed and get over it quickly. For example, maybe you were counting on your team to pull off a big upset, and it didn't happen. Yes, you're complaining and probably not in the happiest of moods, but the mild sadness will likely not affect your life all that much.

If your discouragement is more chronic, though, or has a more significant impact on your physical well-being, then there's cause for concern. Discouragement can feed into worry or panic and prompt you to make some poor decisions moving forward.

Just as sadness relates to fear-based feelings, it also can prompt reactions like anger can. If you're hopeless or in real despair, you may continue making bets or increasing your stakes until you get an outcome that you think will make you feel better and take away your sadness. That's not usually the case, though.

Ongoing depression or chronic feelings of anguish or hopelessness aren't going to be cured by one winning bet slip. There's more to it than that.

Now, if you enjoy sports betting as a hobby and are a fan of individual teams, there's a different way of looking at things. It may bring you joy to follow the games, and putting a little money down enhances that. So, gambling will most likely not be a contributor to your sadness. It can actually be a mood booster for you.

It's difficult to make wise choices when your emotions are clouded, but if you can look at both sides of the picture with objectivity, you can tell when you should be moving forward with an activity like betting. It can be a fun distraction for some people at certain times. So to say that everyone who is experiencing sadness should steer clear of it would be unfair as well. But the problem gamblers who are easily manipulated by their emotions are an entirely different story.

Joy or Happiness

  • Hopeful
  • Inspired
  • Encouraged
  • Optimistic
  • Gratified
  • Fulfilled
  • Overconfident
  • Excited

It's interesting because the first three categories of emotions can be categorized as cautionary tales when it comes to gambling. When discussing joy or happiness, though, you may immediately be thinking that they equate to a green light - "go for it."

That's not necessarily the case. Yes, it's better to make a bet or do any gambling with a good outlook on life than a bad one. You want to be in a content state of mind without worries or fears affecting your judgment. Feeling good can help you to make much better decisions, or it can encourage you to be a bit more reckless.

Think about it-if you're feeling overly optimistic or inspired, losing some money may be a catalyst to prompt you to keep going. You "know" you're destined to win because you feel good and confident.

Admittedly, that does often happen. When you're in a happy mindset, you tend to attract better situations and outcomes, but not always. Your good state of mind may be independent of gambling, and it's just not your day to win money.

Now, for punters who look at betting as a fun and social hobby and stay within their budget, bring on that good mood! It's only going to make for an even better experience. Place some bets, watch the game with friends, and hopefully cash in on a winning ticket (or not). It all feels good to you.

But if you take your good feelings and turn them into a state of invincibility, then you could set yourself up for a fall. Be hopeful, optimistic, and excited, but be realistic about how much you can afford to stake. And you'll want to examine both sides of the coin. What happens if you do lose your bet(s)? Does your good mood fall by the wayside? If so, reevaluate your actions. Happiness is precious. You want to maintain it for as long as possible.

Jealousy or Shame

These weren't explicitly called out in any of the four categories, but do fit into the anger and sadness realm. They are emotions that come up quite often regarding unsuccessful gambling ventures, so they bear individual focus.


Although we don't like to admit it, we do compare ourselves to others. Not just in the way we look or our stature, but with the individual events that happen to us on a daily basis. Jealousy can creep into the betting world every time you stake a prediction.

First of all, you're seeing odds that are based on favorites and underdogs. You know that, within the entire betting pool, someone is going to be successful, even if it's not you. Although you're doing your best to make the most educated and logical prediction, sometimes you win, and sometimes you lose. It's the nature of gambling.

Even if you're not seeing someone physically turn in a winning bet slip when you're walking away defeated, you know it's happening, and that can cause that enviousness to appear and sometimes prompt some unexpected action.

If he (or she) did it, why can't I?

So you make another bet. No, you didn't plan to invest any more in your gambling activity, at least not for a while. But, hey, they won, and you want to as well. You can see what could happen when you start playing the comparison game.


Here's another emotion that doesn't do anyone any good. It can cause outward harm or internal torment.

Why is it so prevalent in gambling? Because we don't like being wrong; it's as simple as that. Whether anyone else knows it or not, we see it, and it can be frustrating or even worse.

It can appear in mild ways. For example, you bragged about your "sure thing" to friends or family. Maybe you've spent those winnings before you had them, just to find out that you made a bad bet and now had to eat crow. That's not too bad, though, right? I mean, who doesn't make mistakes on a daily basis?

When shame can cause problems is when it becomes more severe, and you experience .

People that have bet too much or chased after the elusive win only to find themselves in a terrible spot can experience shame. They might have been so sure that they'd eventually cash out something that they kept chasing the money, only to be left out in the cold. The personal humiliation they feel, the beating themselves up and wishing they could do it all over again, is not a fun way to get through the day.

Maybe you're hiding the money you lost from a significant other or lying about how much time you're spending in a sportsbook or casino. Any time anyone feels the need to cover up their actions, they are feeling shame.

Awareness of Your Emotional Outlook

While several emotions should be kept out of the picture, casual betting can be a social activity and can result in some good feelings. You can feel the connection to others with similar interests. Even debating aspects or your favorite team and why you've chosen to put money on them does form a bond with other people.

While should certainly be avoided at all costs, there are more recreational bettors out there who just enjoy the fun of it. If you're in that category, it typically doesn't result in any financial hardship or emotional adversity.

It's just always wise to consider your mindset before you head to your favorite sportsbook. Think things all the way through by walking through both outcomes-winning or losing. Be open and honest about how you'd feel if you weren't successful. Would you keep going? Would you feel slightly disappointed, or would you be aggressive and act accordingly?

By just getting some clarity regarding your reactions and anticipated actions, you'll have a much better time, and could end up with more cash in your pocket in the long run.



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