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Data Updated: 20th November 2017    
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Do You Think You Have a Gambling Problem?

Whilst Tennis-Data (and its partner services) will accept no responsibility for betting and gambling losses incurred by users of its service (please see full legal disclaimer), it can offer a few words of advice on what to do if you think you have a problem and how to avoid getting one in the first place.

1) All games of chance, including all casino games, will result in losses in the long run, because of the advantage the casino has (its profit margin). In the short run, luck can deliver profits to the gambler, but the law of large numbers means that the more wagers you place the more good and bad luck will cancel each other out. Your long term loss expectancy will be governed by the size of the house edge for that particular game and that particular casino. Consequently, anyone betting at a casino should do so recognising it is just a bit of fun and that any winnings that they might accrue will be solely the result of good fortune and nothing else.

2) Mixed games of skill and chance, including sports betting and poker, offer some element of a long term advantage to the player, not available to those betting at a casino. However, again because the bookmaker or poker room imposes a house edge (the size dependent on the game) most players will find themselves at a significant disadvantage. Furthermore, because sports betting and poker are what are known as "winner takes all" markets, only the most skilled players will actually be able to accrue any profit over the long term. Like casino games, the law of large numbers will mean that good and bad luck gradually cancel each other out as more and more bets are made leaving only a few percent of players who are capable of generating a profit. If you don't know whether you are one of those players (and you should never assume that you are unless you have put in the work to prove that you are), then like for casino games, you should see sports betting and poker as a bit of fun.

3) Treating betting as a bit of fun (and frankly treating it as a profession too) means the following:

  • Never bet what you cannot afford to lose, that is what will materially and emotionally affect you and those around you.
  • Never chase losses, that is never increase stakes for new bets with a view to winning back what you have already lost. This type of money management is the fast track to ruin and is completely and utterly mathematically flawed.
  • If you are not skilled enough to find a profitable advantage over the long term, no tinkering with the way you place your bets, that is to say your staking or money management, can ever turn a losing system into a winning one. People who say it's possible are either lying, in denial or stupid.
  • Always understand that luck is not the same thing as skill, and unless you know how to tell the difference between the two, you will almost certainly find yourself on the losing side in the long run. The vast majority of people who win in the short term believe that their skill as a forecaster must have had something to do with it. Unfortunately the vast majority of these people are wrong, and only find out that they were wrong once they have lost all that they had previously won and more.

4) Whilst many people believe gambling to be immoral, the arguments to support that are flimsy. In fact, provided both parties are legally consenting to a bet, there is little difference between a gamble and other forms of fair trade, apart from the way the rewards are shared. And just like other forms of social interaction and behaviour, pursued in moderation and with full understanding of its mechanics (as set out in points 1 to 3 above), it offers a form of enjoyable entertainment where hope (of a win) is the primary currency or utility, balanced by the risk of failure. But as for most things in life, excessive indulgence (and in this case a failure to manage and moderate sensibly the balance between hope and risk) will lead to problems, and ultimately to addiction, when all rationality has departed.

5) If you are unable to come to terms with the reality that you may not be skilled at betting, feel compelled to try to win back what you lost previously or generally just bet more than you can afford to lose then you have a gambling problem and should seek help. Tennis-Data (and its network partners) are not qualified to advise on what to do if you think or find that you have a gambling problem. There are some excellent texts on the subject written by previously addicted gamblers, for example Overcoming Problem Gambling: A Guide for Problem and Compulsive Gambler, by Philip Mawer. Additionally, there are numerous organisations who will offer help and advice on gambling addiction. In the UK, these include Gamble Aware, Gamblers Anonymous and Gamcare. Tennis-Data and its network partners will always be available to help answer any question a bettor might have which relates to betting and gambling, and in particular will be happy to show just how hard it is to be a successful bettor, and why for almost all, gambling should only ever be considered as a bit of entertainment.

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