Mindful Gambling While Playing Slots and Video Poker

The notion of mindful gambling while playing slots and video poker seems to be an odd topic. The notion of mindful living has become an important way of living in the moment. Being attentive and aware of things such as kindness, etiquette, eating, and even gambling has come to the forefront of recent research.

Mindful Gambling and single player machines

Solitary gambling is a style that many people prefer. With the recent spike in legal online sports betting, the need to interact and gamble is not needed any longer. Slot players, video poker players and video keno players prefer different expectations from their gambling. The need for social interaction isn’t necessarily criteria for a good time. When gambling alone, it is easy to lose one’s self in the activity. Subsequently, being mindful, or in the moment, is an important part of solitary gambling.

Stadium gaming has given some players who prefer solo gaming a chance to play games such as roulette, blackjack and baccarat, getting a social element without the intermingling involved and the ability to play different table games without moving tables. Electronic gaming has even made boisterous team-like games such as craps accessible to the single player.

Group electronic Stadium Gambling

Zindel Segal and Mindful Gambling

Zindel Segal, is a Distinguished Professor of Psychology in Mood Disorders at the University of Toronto Scarborough. He has researched mindfulness in a way that transcends to the solitary gambler. His research suggests that automatic routines, habitual patterns, and favorite games play into the solitary gambler’s play. Patterns of negative thinking take away from the fun factor. Thoughts such as “tight machines,” “low casino payoffs,” and casino superstitions can slip into the players awareness, taking the player out of the moment’s enjoyment. Mr. Segal gives seven to help the player be mindful and enjoy the session.

Playing on “automatic pilot” & Bankroll Control

Continuous play on a slot or other gambling machine without a stop limit is not a good practice. Sure, playing solitary sessions can take us away from stressful situations and bring relaxed recreation. Ordinarily taking a walk for a break can be helpful to not over-bet your bankroll and gamble beyond one’s means.

NETG SUGGESTION – be aware of time and money played.  Keep a log, and bring only the money for that session. While playing , set a loss limit.

A Simple Casino Log for winnings & Losses

Relate to Your play with thought

Gamblers definitely remember re-occurring close bonuses in slots, re-occurring cards or patterns in video poker and repeated keno numbers.  The reality is we are aware of certain parts of experience, not the whole.  Obsessing over the pair of 6’s without a third on the draw can cause thoughts of casino cheating or fixed outcomes.

NETG SUGGESTION – be aware of the science, Gaming Commission rules, and how RNG’s work with casino house edge.

Dwelling on and in the past and future

“I never win at XYZ casino.”  That’s the past talking.  We constantly want to see a cause and effect to base our next action by. As an example, going back to a particular machine that you won on previously. But, remember, the machine has no memory of the previous action to base the next gamble on. Each single play is an entity of its own. Repetition and patterns are human perceptions of past actions that simply do not have an influence on the next bet.

NETG SUGGESTION – remember your success is not dependent upon the previous play. Every bet placed is an “in the moment” event, with no connection to your previous bet.

Gambling angry, or to avoid & escape

Going to the casino to gamble when you are angry, upset, or in an altered state is not a good thing to do. Be in the right mind for recreational gambling.

NETG SUGGESTION – Gamble when it is your primary interest to do so, and you have calculated your sufficient bankroll. When gambling is your secondary thought or reason to go to the casino, maybe that’s not the time to go in the first place.

Needing things to change after negative results

Chasing wins can be catastrophic to your finances.  When losing, accept it – losses happen. Play only to your session’s bankroll.  For instance, maybe just call it a day and leave. Yes, your “luck” can turn in an instant – but the house edge will always play a big part in your continued play. Accept the science & math. Acceptance is the key! The gambler’s fallacy is the belief that the chances of something happening with a fixed probability become higher or lower as the process is repeated. The idea that a machine is “due to hit,” or is “hot or cold” is a human perception in an in an extremely small amount of time.  Correct assumptions of that particular machine can only be expected over long-term play, something none of us have the time to do with one machine.

NETG SUGGESTION – accept the results as part of gambling.  The casino is there to make money while entertaining you.  Fight the good fight, but don’t let session losses  wreak havoc with your emotions. As a rule, don’t buy into the “it’s due to hit” mentality either.

Don’t Treat yourself harshly and unkindly

“Shoulda, coulda, woulda” are the things we tend to get upset over during a session.  “I coulda moved to another machine,” “I shoulda taken a break,” “I woulda had a better day if I had studied my Video Poker strategy.”  Of course, my favorite is “I shoulda checked NETimeGambling.com before I left for some advice.!”

NETG SUGGESTION – The best plans for your casino visit still might go awry. In addition to  the house edge, a busy casino and the lack of availability for your “favorite machines,” could change your plans.  As a result, if it concerns spending more money than expected, and that becomes a pattern, re-assess your need to gamble.


I hope this has been helpful.  It’s so easy to get wrapped up in the excitement of the casino.  Just walking in can give you a boost of adrenaline, sending those endorphins screaming for excitement.  But try to be in control, in the moment.  Being mindful in life can mean being mindful in your gambling.


Special Thanks to Professor for permission to use his research for this post.

Zindel Segal is Distinguished Professor of Psychology in Mood Disorders at the University of Toronto Scarborough. His guiding professional intention is in using empirical data to advocate for the relevance of mindfulness-based clinical care in psychiatry and mental health. He has carried on a longstanding and valued collaboration with John Teasdale and Mark Williams devoted to the proposition that offering training in mindfulness meditation to formerly depressed people can address relapse triggers and support long-term recovery. Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy—the program developed through this work—has now been evaluated in over 10 studies worldwide. He also serves on the Advisory Board for MindfulNoggin.com which offers a digital platform for MBCT.