Responsible Gambling 101: How to Gamble Responsibly and Avoid Excessive Betting

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Oisin Keniry/Getty Images. Pictured: Collin Morikawa.

If you followed every bet that comes into your Twitter timeline, or your follow feed in The Action Network app, your head might explode. Your bankroll would also get drained very quickly.

It seems like everyone else is hitting longshot parlays for $7,500, while those bets just keep eating into your bottom line. But it’s so difficult to resist.

That three-player NBA alternate prop parlay that pays 28-1? It’s just three guys who need like 16 assists total! Easy!

Every golfer and NASCAR driver over 50-1? It’s just one tournament or race, anything can happen!

A same game NFL parlay at 150-1? It only has five legs!

The best way to avoid eating junk food is to never have junk food in the house. But you don’t have that option in betting, because the entire menu is always available. Everything you see on Twitter can be on your betting card in seconds.

Here are three ways to (try to) avoid betting on everything:

1. Clearly Define the Sports and Markets You Bet

One way to avoid defaulting to bet every NBA same game parlay or golf first-round leader longshot you see on Twitter is to clearly define the sports and markets within those sports that you bet.

I try not to bet UFC unless I’m watching it with friends, because it’s not a sport I’m super comfortable handicapping. Nor do I get much excitement following the bets on my phone without watching. I bet a lot of golf, but I try really hard not to bet on first-round leaders.

The problem is that it takes incredible discipline to resist the temptation — discipline I certainly don’t have 365 days per year.

So simply getting a list on paper of that markets that you bet can help. Over time, if you’ve managed to resist enough, your default on each bet you see will change.

I try to stick to sports and markets I know, or have an approach I feel comfortable with.

Here was my list for 2022:

  • NHL sides, totals and props
  • NFL sides, totals and some props
  • College football sides and totals
  • Golf matchups, finishing position bets like top 20s
  • UFC only when I’m watching
  • College basketball in March
  • World Cup

I did a decent job sticking to these this year. I didn’t bet any MLB or baseball, and very little soccer outside the World Cup. Where I fell short was within each sport — I’ve bet a few more touchdown scorer props in the NFL than I would have liked.

Your list can be longer, and can even include most sports! Just don’t allow yourself to bet everything. Your list can also change throughout the year — i.e. you dive deeper into college basketball once college football ends — just don’t let it change on a daily or weekly basis.

With that list, I can find something to bet most days of the year if I want to, save for some slow weekdays in the summer, when I should probably be outside anyway.

States allow you to ban yourself entirely from betting through self-exclusion, and sportsbooks let you set “cool off” periods in which you won’t be able to access your account.

What they should really do is offer self-exclusion from certain features. Same game parlays can absolutely drain your bankroll, but there’s no way to keep yourself away without outright banning yourself.

2. Make it Clear When You’ve Broken Your Rules

You’re going to break your rules. I break mine all the time.

I have a spreadsheet I try to keep accurate financials of everything I bet — sports, fantasy, survivor pools — in addition to everything I put in The Action Network app.

If I’ve broken a rule, I’ll highlight it in red. The visual cue helps me reinforce that I did something I told myself I wouldn’t do, like bet a 110-1 and 350-1 same game parlay.

Does it make me feel like I’m in second grade? Sure. But every time I revisit it, I feel the shame.

Red is a brutally honest color.

Tracking your bets is a great way to understand your betting habits and if you are losing a lot of money, to serve as a wakeup call. Seeing a five-figure loss for the year in a spreadsheet is much more jarring than rationalizing an unspecified amount in your head.

3. Limit Your Twitter Following, And Turn Off Suggested Topics

Set your timeline back to “see latest tweets” by clicking the three dots in the top right of the app. That will eliminate a lot of the suggested tweets, which are almost always big winning tickets.

I’m no algorithm expert, but here’s what’s happened to my Twitter over the last year or two:

  • I follow lots of betting accounts
  • Twitter suggests tweets for me to see based on my activity and following
  • The suggested tweets are always posts that got lots of engagement. And the nature of betting means that only winning tickets get lots of engagement, so I tend to see only huge winners and very few losers.

So my timeline turns into a parade of $10-into-$10,000-parlay-winners every day. The thousands and thousands of losing bets posted on Twitter? They never see the light of day. It’s easy to think you’re the only one not cashing these bets when social media surfaces only that. The losers just die out, unlike politics, where the hate and negativity surfaces.

Once you sort by see latest tweets, start to think hard about who you follow. The problem is that most people can’t filter out the bets they want to tail and the ones they don’t. So you need to filter out people and accounts, first and foremost.

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