Are you a sensation-seeker as a bettor? Are you someone who secretly hates himself and uses betting as a form of punishment? Do you bet because there's not much else in life that interests you?

If you answer 'yes' to any of these questions, then a psychologist would most likely term you a problem gambler. At the very least, you'd be called a bad gambler.

Whether or not you see yourself in the above personalities, you should always keep your options open when it comes to analysing your betting strategies and beliefs.

None of us is immune from deficiencies. The aim of this series of articles has been to place the spotlight on some of those areas of concern.

What, then, is a sensation-seeker when it comes to betting? How do we define such a gambler? American psychologists say we all have a 'preferred level' of stimulation, and some people need more than others.

In his book, The Guide To Good Gambling, Australia's Dr Clive Allcock (a former PPM contributor) writes: " . . . When you ask people why they gamble, most will say, 'For the chance to win money, for entertainment, to be sociable. 'A few, perhaps 5 per cent, will say 'for the excitement'.

"Certainly, the excitement of gambling has been emphasised by many writers in attempting to explain bad gambling."

Allcock went on to mention how some gamblers become so excited that they get a definite 'high' during a race, or when the roulette wheel spins.

American professor Dwight G. Parsons says: "The more prone a person is to elevated 'highs' when gambling, the more chance there is that he or she will develop bad gambling habits.

"As with drug addicts, who also seek highs, there comes a growing dependency on them. With the addict, this means the intake of more and more drugs, with the gambler this can mean a need for more and more betting action.

"What happens is that the highs never quite reach former peaks, and the gambler becomes even more desperate to achieve what he knows he had before. His betting becomes irrational, growing more so in periods of loss, when the highs that come with winning are not there.

"With some gamblers, the betting itself provides the high and even continual losses become part of a betting pattern that is self-destructive."

Parsons believes that many bettors are driven by what he calls their own 'fear and loathing' of themselves. In a study he made of 50 chronic 'bad gamblers' in the United States, he found that most had poor images of themselves and saw gambling, and winning, as a way of obtaining some level of self-esteem.

Dr Allcock's book, in a chapter on bad gamblers, made the following conclusions:

  • You are more likely to move into the bad gambling circle if:

    (a) You get very excited while gambling;
    (b) You have no other fun activities in your life;
    (c) You use gambling to cope with or hide from problems.
  • You are more likely to stay in the circle of bad gambling if:

    (a) You come to need the excitement;
    (b) You lie about your gambling so friends can't help;
    (c) You chase your losses;
    (d) You believe you're going to win 'this time', 'for sure', and 'definitely'.

These are just a few final thoughts on gambling, probably at the extreme end of things as far as most punters are concerned.

In the main, rank-and-file punters bet within their means, they enjoy betting for what it is and don't let it get out of hand. They continue to make the same mistakes because old habits die hard but, generally, they do not become problem gamblers.

Like most other things in life, betting is about sensible moderation. Drivers who don't get drunk will rarely kill anyone on the roads. Bettors who don't gamble wildly rarely go broke.

* This is the final part of the Psycho Babble series.

Click here to read Part 1.
Click here to read Part 2.
Click here to read Part 3.
Click here to read Part 4.

By Richard Hartley Jnr