Gambling involves placing a bet on an uncertain event that has the potential to produce either a win or a loss. In addition to the bet itself, this activity also includes a cognitive process whereby gamblers believe they can devise a winning system or strategy. This may include betting the opposite way of recent outcomes, attempting to predict patterns in random numbers or performing ritualistic behavior before placing a bet. The reality is that no betting system can withstand the long run.
While most people can enjoy gambling recreationally without experiencing harmful consequences, a small subset of people develop pathological gambling disorder, which is characterized by significant distress and impairment in work and social life. While it is important to understand why some people become addicted to gambling, it is equally vital to recognize the signs of problem gambling and seek help.
Research has shown that gambling is associated with a variety of psychological, social and occupational harms. The most obvious harm is financial, but it is also common for problem gamblers to experience clinical depression and suicidal ideation. Additionally, they are more likely to engage in other risky behaviors that compromise their wellbeing, such as drug use.
Many reasons contribute to the development of a gambling addiction, including genetic predisposition for impulsivity and reward seeking, negative social and family influences, and environmental factors such as low socioeconomic status and high levels of stress. A growing concern is that more and more people are developing gambling disorders as the traditional forms of gambling around roulette wheels and card tables have been replaced by solitary gambling at electronic terminals.
It is also well known that when we win at a game, our brain releases dopamine, which makes us feel excited. However, it has been found that even near-misses can trigger this dopamine response and increase motivation for play. This finding is particularly troublesome because it implies that when someone ‘almost’ wins, their brain’rewards’ them more than if they actually won the money. This can be a huge contributor to compulsive gambling, as individuals may struggle to recognize when they have stopped making progress and need to stop playing.
This book tells the true story of Molly Bloom, who ran one of the most lucrative underworld poker games in Las Vegas. This is a fascinating look into the world of casino gambling from someone who has seen it all and lived to tell the tale. It is a tense, suspenseful, and entertaining read that is sure to please anyone interested in gambling or the darker side of life.