bottom line but at the top: men respond to stressful situations
by taking more dangerous risks, while women become more cautious.
The University Of Southern California did a lot of research to come
up with that little gem but stop and think about it. Why are there
more men gambling on racing than women? Think about the last time
you spent any time in a TAB - yes, I know, ancient history with the
advent of on line gambling - but remember how many more men there
were in there than women.
What's the split if you go to the races? (Does ANYONE actually go
any more apart from the trainers, owners, jockeys?) The theory on
men / women gambling / risk taking is underscored by the cave man
and women scenario where it was more beneficial in ancient times
if men became more aggressive in threatening situations while women
- who were more likely to be looking after children - became more
cautious. True? Well, I guess if you think about it, it would seem
Here's an interesting stress / gambling test done by an American Journal
who were experimenting with 48 volunteers to play a gambling game
on a computer.
Using a mouse and keyboard, the volunteers were asked to inflate a
balloon on the screen using a virtual pump.They
were told that each stroke of the pump earned them five cents and
that they could stop and cash in their earnings at any time.
However, they were also told that the balloon would burst once it
reached a randomly chosen size - and if it did, they would lose all
The volunteers were then split into two groups. Using an established
technique to mimic stress, the scientists asked half the volunteers
to plunge their hand in a jug of icy water for three minutes before
they carried out the test. (The
icy water was designed to raise levels of the stress hormone cortisol
in the bloodstream.)
The 'control' group were asked to put their hand in water at room
temperature. Their stress levels did not increase.
Among the control group, men and women were just as risky as each
other - inflating the balloon about 40 times on average before taking
the cash. However,
when the groups were stressed, women inflated the balloon an average
of 32 times, while men inflated it 48 times.
So what sort of gambling decisions do you make when you're under stress?
And the stress can be caused by any number of events in a gambling
situation as you are probably well aware. Guaranteed are things like
the word "protest", the murmurings filtering through in
words like "don't forget we're going over to Sonya's this afternoon
for a few drinks before the school play", or that seemingly unlikely
run of outs where everything heads 'em up at the 200 only to get run
down "in the shadows of the post" as the breathlessly excited
race caller is delighted to tell you, over and over and over again,
like he's just called the most memorable race ever heard in the history
Now while you are enjoying an afternoon on the punt, it is highly
likely (almost unavoidable) that you will enjoy (or probably not enjoy)
periods of stress. So do racing car drivers. And golfers. And footballers.
(Ever wondered why that is the case that all sport thrives on stress?).
How you deal with it and manage it will UNDOUBTEDLY determine your
outcome. And it's not simply a matter of "take a few deep breaths"
or "learn to relax more".
You DO need change how you think about stress: we also need to recognise
that there are some things in our lives that we can’t control.
Try to focus on the things you can control. Remember that being able
to accept situations that are beyond your control is, paradoxically,
a way of exercising control because you choose to let it go.
You cannot determine if a protest is going to be upheld or dismissed.
You can't determine if this jockey or that jockey has had a bad night's
sleep last night (for any number of reasons that may or may not be
in play in his/her life at the moment - just like in yours) and is
likely to make a bad decision or two mid race today, and you can't
control if the horse even feels sick. And they often do - just like
You ABSOLUTELY have to accept that there are many factors involved
in whether you win or lose that you cannot influence or control
in any way whatsoever.
It's why when a horse you've chosen based on whatever method you are
employing salutes and pays $4.00 a win, you are getting 300% interest
for one or two minutes investment and why the banks only pay 5% for
investment for a year. The risk factors in racing are billions of
times greater over a year than the risk factors in putting your money
in a bank.
If you are gambling and losing at the time and feeling stressed about
it - STOP. Stressed people simply make bad decisions because of the
"fight or flight" natural hormones that are surging through
your veins at the time of high levels of stress. Walk away from the
computer. Go outside for half an hour or an hour - clean up the shed.
What's that? You'll miss a race or two?
Big *!^^**!* deal! You should never be betting in a manner (read staking
plan - oh dear, here we go again) that should matter if you
miss a race or two here and there because NO ONE can be there for
every race of every day, 365 days a year, NO ONE! Not even me - and
I have tried. It can't be done.
de-stresser of course is to bet at level stakes on pre-ordained
runners - set and forget - but a lot of punters don't like doing
that for obvious reasons. But there are other things you really
can do to relieve overall stress levels and thereby make more sensible
/ profitable gambling decisions along the way. Now without going
into the loopy world of alternative medicines or the navel gazing
hippy world (what is that wonderful smelling incense you've
got burning?), here are few things you can do to reduce your
overall stress levels.
Learn to say NO. You don't have to do everything that is asked of
you. Your gambling time is your down time - just like the people who
spend all day watching pay TV. (Isn't that wonderful - every 7 minutes
some clown is on there flogging death insurance - here's a great programme
- now every 7 minutes we're going to tell you you're about to die......good
2. Exercise - and I don't mean getting dressed up in lycra and heading
off to some smelly gym watching fat people pretend they're not - just
go for walk before you start gambling. Half an hour will make you
feel more interested in sitting in front of a screen trying to make
a quid - and remind you of why you are doing it - because it's better
3. Meditate - this is where it gets really spooky and "is
this guy losing his mind" stuff. It is no big deal. Try
it. The idea is to calm the mind by simply being at one with what’s
going on, without judging it or reacting to it and without letting
your focus drift to the past, the future or anything that’s
not happening in the moment. In other words: mindfulness: focussing
on absolutely nothing - blank - black - and dismissing any thoughts
about anything that keep trying to pop in to you head
You can practice mindfulness in a sitting position like you would
with meditation generally, (now while you're reading this on your
computer screen - stop - close your eyes - try it - I promise it works)
but you can also do it during everyday activities like walking, washing
or eating as long as it’s safe and practical to do so. Do that
for ten minutes and you will feel refreshed and less stressed and
you will make better gambling decisions.
Women however tend to be more adept at doing this than men which is
why men take more risks generally than women - especially under stress.
So now we're exactly back to the bottom line which is where we started
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