I have one friend, let’s call him Jack, who was on a downward spiral a few years ago. At first glance, nothing seemed out of the ordinary. He was a hard-working guy who, here and there, would visit a casino to try his luck on slots. No one thought much of it. In fact, his friends, myself included, all very much looked forward to those moments in which we enjoyed a quick spin or two. Playing the pokies became a hobby of ours, you could say.
However, unlike Jack, we knew when to stop gambling. We didn’t know to what extent his love of betting would go so we used to invite him to a pub and encourage him to play on the machine. In fact, I remember one episode in which we were in our favourite local pub and the beers were not cutting it for me. Therefore, I suggested playing on pokie machines. And that’s what we did. But we promised each other that we would only wager $20 and that we would immediately stop playing once we lost them.
At first, we had some beginner’s luck and were able to match a few symbols. But after some time, we were losing our money. I said to him that we should soon stop, and he seemed to agree with me. However, Jack wouldn’t or rather couldn’t stop. It got to the point where I had to remove him from the slot.
Then, I asked him directly whether he had any problems. It only took him one round of beer to confess that he was a pokie addict. He feared disappointing his family and friends and didn’t know what to do.
After a long and tiring conversation, we agreed that he would tell this to his immediate family and start making progress.
I’m happy to say that, following a lot of therapy and support from family and friends, Jack was able to overcome his addiction and see pokie machines for what they were all along — a means of getting your fill of entertainment. I’m sure that there are a lot of Jacks out there. Thus, I’ll mention some things that helped my Jack stop playing pokies.
You probably have no idea how to overcome pokie addiction, but believe it or not, casinos are jumping in to help you. A lot of people opt for self-exclusion. This is a valuable option, which basically allows you to approach a casino, be it online or land-based, and tell them that you have come to a conclusion that you need to stop betting. This option is also available in Australia.
If you see that you’re spending your rent money on pokies, you have a right to be self-excluded. The casino will keep its end of the agreement, and it won’t allow you to gamble there. In fact, if they catch you on the casino floor, they can kick you out for trespassing. Now, this might sound harsh, however, they are doing it for your own good.
Nonetheless, if you relapse, some casinos will help you get back on track. Also, in case you are spending too much time at an online casino, then they will close your account and erase all of your details from their system.
Furthermore, sometimes players decide to self-exclude themselves only for a brief period of time. This allows them to take a step back and learn from their mistakes. And the most important thing a player needs to understand is that gambling is there to amuse you, not provide income.
This option is effective for many problem gamblers. However, there are some sceptics.
Namely, they believe that casinos might use this to promote themselves and their ethics instead of actually assisting those with a gambling problem. While some say that players shouldn’t expect much from casinos and should make this their responsibility.
Nevertheless, voluntary exclusion is a welcoming addition to the gambling community. Specifically, it lets you be the master of your own destiny and take the necessary steps to prevent your gambling addiction. For many, this proved to be the best answer on how to quit pokies and escape the addiction.
Write in a Gambling Diary
This can be of help while you are trying to stop playing on poker machines gradually. Let’s say that you go to visit your favourite casino and wager a substantial amount of money. After winning a few rounds at the pokies, you are over the moon. But your worst fear occurs — you start losing more and more money. After some time, your balance is $0, and you leave the premises.
You should buy a notebook on your way home and make it your official gambling diary. And write whatever you want in it. How good it was to keep landing wins; how worthless you felt when the screen showed $0 and you took your wallet only to find it empty.
In addition, you can write down all your expenses in it so that, once you read it, you see how much you keep spending just because you continue to play. Once you stop, the diary can be useful and show you just how far your problem gambling went.
Resist the Urge
Obviously, the wish to gamble comes from a nearly irresistible urge to walk into a casino and start playing one of the games. After all, this is precisely what addiction does to you — it makes you behave the way you usually wouldn’t. Needless to say that rationalism doesn’t play an important role when it comes to any sort of addiction for that matter. However, it is the realization that you’ve lost too much money that hits you in the head like a hammer.
Since the urge to gamble tends to come at the most unexpected times, you can easily develop a coping mechanism. Here are some of the things you can try doing that could be of help when you’re thinking of how to stop playing pokies at 2 a.m.:
- Try to relax and help yourself remain calm
- Take deep and slow breaths. This directly relates to staying calm — one cannot exist without the other
- Distract yourself with activities you enjoy. May it be watching your favorite TV show, reading a book, or cooking — doing any of these will help you deal with your addiction.
- Talk to yourself. If your brain is telling you to go immediately, try giving yourself a chance first. Say that if you still feel like going within two hours, you might just go. The chances are that you’ll start doing something else and forget about it.
Think of the Benefits
There will be times when not one of these mechanisms will help. In this case you need to start thinking about all the benefits you will get by saving your money. If you spend the money you’ve worked for so hard doing something you genuinely enjoy, you will probably forget about your addiction overall. When asked about the best way how to quit pokies, many psychologists say that spending money on something you enjoy more is the best way. This might rewire your brain. Pay attention to this savings table:
Basically, by playing casino games, you forget just how much privilege money can actually bring. By making yourself save and think of the outcome, you may realize just how much money worth is once again.
Turn to Your Nearest and Dearest
You shouldn’t neglect the importance of having family and friends nearby. I know that you might be ashamed to look your loved ones in the eye and tell them that you think you might have a problem. But you’ll always find the willpower you need once you get this off your shoulders. Don’t underestimate your family. Sure, maybe a few tears will be shed, but in the end, you’ll have a valuable companion who’ll be there to lend a helping hand, and you won’t feel so lost anymore. It was through the support of his family and friends that Jack found his way out. Instead of constantly asking yourself how to stop playing pokies, turn to your loved ones instead.
Have a Problem? Own It!
We all know that saying — the first step to recovery is admitting that you have a gambling problem. Although it sounds cliché, there’s no way around it. Namely, you can’t expect anything to work if you turn a blind eye to the issue.
Hence, turn this issue into a valuable life lesson and own it. You can seek professional help and surround yourself with people who are going through a similar situation. This support system is crucial for the recovery. You can all share your stories and encourage each other. Knowing that other people are facing the same problem can prompt you to find a way out and realise that the world is not black and white.
Also, you shouldn’t hide your gambling addiction. Many people in these groups know exactly how to overcome pokie addiction, after all. I’m not saying that you should go around and tell everyone about it, but don’t try to minimise the effect it has on your life. And in this day and age, people won’t judge you. That period is way behind us. Accepting your flaws and living with them is commendable and will earn you respect from your peers.
Overall, in order to stop playing pokies, you need to make the first step yourself. This way, you’ll recover self-esteem and establish trust in yourself. So keeping a diary, telling your family, or getting help from complete strangers — these are some of the ways in which you can say no to pokie machines and yes to addiction-free future.
To conclude, this road won’t be easy, but certain things can strengthen your resolve. Specifically, seeing the friendly faces of your close ones, acknowledging your problem, and working towards resolving it. And remember — you’re not alone. With time, your gambling addiction will decrease, and you’ll only be left with memories written in your diary.
Believe it or not, pokies are more than just a game. Moreover, there was a team of psychologists who applied experiments they used on animals to slots. These experiments served to find a way and hypnotize a person so they would lose track of space and time. Add flashy animations to this equation and you will realize why slots and humans make such a dreamy couple. Also, pokies are as simple as it gets; no rules, no hands to memorize. All you need is to put in a coin and enjoy the game.
At first, gambling started off as a hobby. And people gambled far longer than you could possibly imagine. Most modern games started off in the Chinese Empire or the Roman and Greek era. So many historians will tell you that gambling is a part of humanity, it’s in our genes to gamble.
Although, it all comes down to the fact that you could actually win astonishing amounts of money without having to work hard for it. People gamble because they are fascinated with the idea of becoming rich with minimum effort and minimum investments.
Pokies are probably one of the most addictive games out there for many reasons. They are flashy, hypnotising, and time consuming. Some of them even come with progressive jackpots that could potentially grant you millions. Stopping this addiction can be extremely difficult, but there is hope. A problem gambler needs to tell their family, seek help from a professional, and seek guidance from a therapy group. It’s important to be surrounded with love and support.
Quitting pokies inevitably means quitting gambling in general — and that includes sports betting. If one wishes to abandon pokies forever, it means never setting foot in a casino; online or land-based. The person needs to completely remove this idea from their mind.