The Pokies Play Tricks On My Mind

Mind Bending Pokies

In the week I had a message from JKS who is struggling with keeping gambling under control – in particular pokie machines. They talk about the tricks their mind plays and how they feel about telling lies to their family to cover up where they have been and where their money has gone.  Read JKS story below and my comments that might help JKS and others trying to keep themselves away from pokies.

JKS writes…

The problem with pokie machines is YOU THINK the next time you push that button, a feature will appear. I am 23 years old and I believe there are many factors why I gamble. Living expenses increase every year, so my mind would trick me into thinking IF I risk $100 of my pay, I could potentially get $200 back.

But the problem is, even if I did win $200, sometimes my mind would think MAYBE just maybe I can make it $300.

The fact is, when you are a gambler like myself, more often than not, it is NEVER enough, no matter how much you win. Winning is a thrill, living the moment, but you are not winning, in fact, when you’re losing you’d feel down, lonely and think no one in the world would understand what you’re going through.

I feel ashamed when I walk into a club by myself. When you see other people by themselves you know chances are they are addicted gambling as well.

I have recently been promoted. Part of the reason why I work so hard is that once I get a pay increase, I have more money to gamble with. I am also undergoing a Bachelor Degree, I have the most supportive family anyone could ask for, everything in my life seems so perfect BUT I have an addiction and no one knows about it.

I can’t justify to my partner where my pay goes every week. I started making up little white lies hoping he’d be stupid enough to believe me, but sooner or later he’ll see through me.

I lost $300 tonight, and I am DETERMINED to quit as of today. If I have the guts to post something like this in a public forum, I am willing to give it my best shot and I mean it. It may fail, but AT LEAST I am self-aware now, my mind will learn to make judgements for both pros and cons of gambling, whereas in the past I had been one-sided about gambling.

I SUGGEST ANYONE OUT THERE WITH A GAMBLING PROBLEM, THINK ABOUT HOW MUCH YOU’D SAVE IF YOU DIDN’T GAMBLE. THINK ABOUT THE TIME YOU COULD HAVE USED TO DO MORE CONSTRUCTIVE THINGS. THINK ABOUT WHAT IF YOU ARE GOING TO KEEP LOSING. THINK ABOUT ALL THE LIES YOU’LL HAVE TO MAKE TO COVER YOUR TRACKS. AND FINALLY THINK ABOUT WHAT MAKES YOU THINK YOU CAN BEAT THE MACHINES WHEN THEY ARE DESIGNED TO TAKE YOUR MONEY.

JUST THINK ABOUT IT BEFORE YOU WALK INTO A CLUB AGAIN. LET’S ALL QUIT TOGETHER.

Congratulation JKS on realising that you are not going to win at gambling the longer that you gamble. Want to know how the pokies really work?  You may get tricked into believing that a miss is nothing more than a near-miss.

You can order the free DVD here.

Some people with gambling problems have told me that they watch it over and over again and that this helps them to take control of their gambling.

Well done on realising that if you have a win that it will not make up for what you have already spent on gambling.

I think it is important for you to acknowledge that your gambling may have started because you thought that it was an easy way to get money. Perhaps when you first started gambling you had a few wins which took the pressure of your rent payments and you began to falsely think “if I gamble I can get money”.

Unfortunately gambling may start for one reason but can continue for another reason. It sounds as if you have become more and more desperate and fallen into the pattern of chasing your losses – this is very common.

It is time to say to yourself “what is lost is lost and I can never get this back”.

As you say, winning may be ‘a thrill – living the moment’ but you raise the question of what really is a win?

How much do you really need to cover all your losses? What happens to the money that you actually win?

The longer that you gamble the more likely you are to lose more money. I wonder if it is really ‘a thrill – living the moment’ when you lose?

I have heard from other people with gambling problems that when they are losing (which ultimately long-term gamblers eventually do), they feel very alone and depressed, and that their last thought at night and their first thought the next day is about gambling.

JKS you say that no one will understand. A gambling counsellor is someone that you can talk to about the distress that you are going through and they understand gambling.

If you are feeling depressed and suicidal it is very important that you seek help immediately and tell those around you or contact Lifeline 13 11 14 or Gambling Help on 1800 858 858 or see your GP.

Many people with gambling problems feel shame. They feel guilty as they have been continually lying to their partners, family members and friends about where they are and what they are doing. It sounds as if you feel sad for the other people you see who are gambling, as you know first-hand the affects of heavy gambling on yourself and those around you and that the people gambling near you appear to have no awareness of this.

JKS it seems that it is very important to change your motivation for hard work and study to something that will provide a reward for you in some other positive way – other then just to have more money to spend on gambling.

I wonder, perhaps if you were to think about other forms of entertainment or activities that you enjoy or holidays that you may wish to go on, or purchases that you would like to save for, could this keep you motivated and take your focus?

It sounds important to try to get real meaning back into your money so that you do not just see it as ‘money means gambling’. What else could money mean for you?

I believe that you are putting tremendous efforts into your study and work achievements, and I wonder if these are endeavours that you happily share with your partner and family as you are very proud of what you have achieved and how hard you are working.

On the other hand, it sounds like you are also putting a lot of effort into your gambling but that this time and effort does not have the same positive results as your study and work.

I suspect you would not feel proud telling your partner or your family about any of your wins at gambling.

JKS, the first step in breaking the cycle of chasing your losses is to be honest about your gambling and to seek help. Please contact Gambling Help on 1800 8585 858. Gambling Help will be able to assist you with some immediate strategies and can refer you to a gambling and/or a financial counsellor if you would like this – and it’s all free.

Sometimes attending counselling can provide more insight into your gambling and assist you with implementing strategies to stop gambling. Clicking on the link to talk immediately to an online gambling counsellor may be another option.

It is fantastic that you have posted this message about ‘thinking’ for anyone who has a gambling problem to consider – it’s a great message:

Think about how much you’d save if you didn’t gamble.

Think about the time you could have used to do more constructive things. Think about what will happen if you keep gambling and keep losing,

Think about all the lies you’ll have to make to cover your tracks.

Finally think about what makes you think you can beat the machines when they are designed to take your money.

Just think about it before you walk into a club again.

Let’s all quit together.

It’s really great JKS that you sound very determined to stop gambling. In stopping gambling the next step is to take action and put in place strategies to protect yourself from gambling such as only carrying the money that you need, not carrying ATM/credit cards, lowering your daily ATM withdrawal limits and not borrowing money from friends and so on.

It may help you to work out an action plan for what you can do if you have an urge to gamble such as reading, listening to music, walking, calling a friend, going to the gym and so on.

It may also help to be mindful about where you are going and what you are doing. It may help to set up direct debits for accounts that need to be paid. A financial counsellor can assist you with this should you need this.

JKS do you have anyone that you can trust who could be your support person? Would you consider asking your partner or one of your supportive family members at this stage?

If you click on this link you will have access to a very helpful gambling workbook with more strategies and explanations about gambling.  You can also order this book for free from the gamblinghelp.nsw.gov.au site.

Some people who want to stop gambling find it helpful to sign up for free SMS message reminders at the times that they are most likely to gamble.

‘Self Exclusion’ from gambling venues maybe another option that you may want to discuss with counsellors at Gambling Help 1800 858 858.

JKS, once you have implemented strategies to stop gambling they will eventually become routine and if you decide to hand your money to a trusted support person, this can later be re-negotiated when you feel that gambling is no longer a problem for you.

I wish you all the very best JKS.

Counsellor Sam

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