NCAA Football Rankings – Does the NCAA cause gambling addiction?

NCAAPlacing a winning bet on a college football game can be an exhilarating feeling. If you are a sports fan, you probably have been tempted to use your knowledge to win some easy money or perhaps have won money in the past. However, does betting on college football games lead a person down the path to a gambling addiction?

Gambling May Be a Genetic Issue

To a certain extent, gambling may be a behavior that is hardwired into some people. This is because those that tend to gamble frequently have an addictive personality to begin with. In a scenario such as this one, it would be hard to blame the NCAA or any other group for the actions of a gambler.

Emotional Betting Can Hurt Many Gamblers

Some people have good luck when they first start betting. Winning $100 on a $1 bet on the very first try may trick a naive gambler that he or she can make that type of money on any bet. However, a professional will tell you that the math simply does not add up.

Success or failure on one or two bets is not a large enough sample size nor long enough of a track record for anyone to declare that they are good enough to win consistently. Unfortunately, it may create a situation where a gambler makes bets based on emotion and causes them to risk more money than they can afford to lose.

Once the losses start to pile up, it can be harder and harder to pull away from the table in an attempt to win that money back. While a smart gambler will walk away and try to learn from their mistakes, most will become desperate and place wagers on anything that they think will help them recoup their cash.

Gambling Should Always Be Seen as Entertainment

Anyone who has placed a wager in the past generally understands that the house always has the advantage. Therefore, it is a good idea to only gamble with money that you can afford to lose and not be upset when the bet turns into a losing proposition. While a bettor may win occasionally, this is almost always done for public relations purposes. In other words, the person making the bet got lucky and shouldn’t expect to repeat such a performance in the future.

Does the NCAA create problem gamblers? While it may be easy to put the finger at them, it is ultimately the responsibility of the person making the bet to make sure that he or she is not throwing money away. All the NCAA can do is to promote awareness regarding problem gambling and point people toward resources to get them help. However, they cannot be responsible for the actions of an adult with complete control over his or her money.

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Budgeting For Fun

This is a guest post.

As crazy as it sounds, budgeting for fun has never been more important that it is in the current economic climate. It doesn’t matter if you are single, married, a parent or part of a family, budgeting is the right way to go if you want to keep on top of your financial situation and keep track of where you spend your money . How many of us reach the end of our pay check long before the next one’s due, and have no idea where the money went? Unfortunately this is all too common and if it’s happening to you right now, you need to sit down and draw up a budget so that you can have fun without having a long term financial crises.

Just as our kids need a financial education, we as adults need to face up to our responsibilities and make sure we do not add to our debt or overspend simply because we want to have some fun. Entertainment is a luxury and not a necessity, and one of the suggested recreational activities that can be enjoyed by adults in the comfort of their own homes is online gaming.

Online gaming can be enjoyed on your PC at many popular sites across the web, or you can use your mobile phone to play at casinos and by gaming at home you are already saving yourself a fortune in entertainment costs. The convenience and instant accessibility of online games cannot be argued and they provide the perfect platform for you to enjoy realistic games any time you desire.

In order to keep yourself in check and your head above water, try the following:

  • Draw up a budget that dictates how much your online gaming allowance will be
  • Stick to your budgeted amount, or set a self imposed limit with a casino
  • Do not fool yourself into believing that you can afford to spend more than you have
  • Decide whether to play your winnings or save them
  • Research the best bonuses on offer and claim as often as possible

By following these 5 tips you can save yourself hundreds, or even thousands of Dollars and the price tag on entertainment will be a manageable amount with no unexpected surprises.

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Counting Cards: How to Cheat At Blackjack

A blackjack game in progress

A blackjack game in progress (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I don’t gamble much.  I’ve got this boring kind of luck that let’s me gamble for a really long time on not much money, without ever winning big.

For example, when my wife was very pregnant with our first monster, we took a trip to visit my parents.  It’s a 2 hour drive, and she needed a break halfway there.  In the truck stop, we bought $5 worth of scratch-offs to pass some time.   We turned in the winning tickets for more scratch-offs.   And again.   And again.   Two hours later, we were out of winners, but had never accumulated more than $10.

Another time, we went to the casino to play slots.   It took nearly 8 hours to spend $20.   That sounds boring, but we had good conversation while we were playing.

I’ve never had a big win or a big loss from gambling, so I’ve always been kind of bored with the idea.

Now, cheating at blackjack, that’s a different matter.  Pulling one over on the casino without getting caught…they make movies about that kind of stuff.

To be clear: counting cards in your head isn’t cheating.   Legally, the worst that can happen is you can be asked to leave.   To get a Hollywood-I-cheated-the-casino-and-got-caught-and-beat-by-the-mob kind of beating, you need to win a lot.

A lot.

To get started, there are a few things you need to know.  One of those things is how to play blackjack, but I’m not going to get into the basics.  If you don’t know how to hit, stand, or count to 21 without taking your clothes off, this guide may be too advanced for you.  Come back later.

Super Basic Strategy

You don’t need to count cards to use this strategy.   You will do better than most players if you follow along.

1.  The dealer must hit, or take another card, if he has 16 points.  If he has 17, he stands.

2.  The hole card–the card you can’t see–is always worth 10.  Of course, it’s not, but for the purposes of your strategy, assume it is.

That means, when the dealer is showing a 2, you’ll assume he’s got 12 points and will hit.  If he’s showing a 7, you’ll assume he’s going to stand.   If he’s showing an 8, your goal is to beat 18, not push for 21.

That’s it.  If you do that, you’ll come within a couple of points of even odds against the house.  Google “blackjack basic strategy” if you want to improve this.

Even odds isn’t good enough.

Card Counting

Counting cards sounds tough.  Rain Man tough.

It’s not, but you’ll want to practice at home a bit before you try it in the really real world.

The rules are simple:

1. Cards 2-6 are worth 1 point.

2.  The 10, jack, queen, king, and ace are worth -1.

3.  For every card that is played, keep track of that score.   This is a running score across multiple hands until the deck is replaced or shuffled, so don’t stop at a new deal.

4.  Divide the running score by the number of decks remaining in the shoe.  If there are approximated 150 cards in the dealer-thingy, that’s 3 decks, so divide by 3.   If your running score is 18, that means the number your playing against is 6.   If the casino is using a continuous-shuffling thingy, forget counting the cards.

That’s it.   You’re never adding or subtracting more than a one, and you’re doing that against a number that tends to stay pretty low.

How do you use that, you ask?  Easy.

When the score is up, bet higher.  If it’s low or negative, bet lower.   The higher the number, the higher your bets.   If you’ve got a 5, a 6, or more, bet as much as you are comfortable with.  If your playing score is low or negative, bet close to the table minimum.

Why does this work?

A higher score indicates that the main assumption of the super basic strategy is more likely to be true.  When you’ve got a score of 10, you know a lot of lower-value cards have already hit the table, so it’s safer to assume that the dealer’s card is worth 10.

You don’t change anything about the way you play each hand, you just change the way you bet each hand.   Counting cards doesn’t tell you specifically what’s going to happen during each hand, it just tackles the statistics of the game.  It moves the odds in your favor, by up to 2 or 3 percent.    Over one hand, this won’t help, so don’t sweat losing a hand here and there.   Over an entire shoe of hands, you should be able to steadily win more than you lose.

And, as Brian Brushwood says, in the course of your life, very few things make a cooler story than getting kicked out of a casino for counting cards.

Do you play in casinos?  Ever tried to cheat?

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13 Things to Know About Sweepstakes, Giveaways, Lotteries, and Contests

A National Lottery
Image via Wikipedia

I don’t know why, but it seems like this time of year breeds sweepstakes, drawings, and giveaways.   Maybe it’s to cash in on the people who are afraid to pay for the holidays, maybe it’s because, at the end of the year, people are realizing how much money they didn’t make this year, or maybe I’m only noticing now because I just ran a giveaway to celebrate my 1 year anniversary.   Whatever the reason, there are a lot of giveaways going on this month and, because a certain segment of the population sucks, there are a number of scam sweepstakes going on, too.

Knowing some basic facts about sweepstakes–legal and otherwise–can help you stay safe and avoid wasting your time and money.   Here are 13 things you should know:

  1. Foreign sweepstakes are always scams. You didn’t win the Spanish lottery.   I’m sorry, but it’s true.
  2. Sweepstakes winners are always chosen at random. If there’s something you can do to influence your chances, it’s not a sweepstakes.
  3. Contests involve some skill, whether it’s captioning a photo, answering a trivia question, or showing up in a bikini.   It is legal to charge a fee to enter a contest.
  4. Lotteries cost money and must be random. There are almost no cases where a lottery is legally run by a private enterprise.  The government has reserved this privilege for themselves.
  5. Since a prize, chosen at random for a consideration is the definition of a lottery, there is nothing you can do to influence the results of a legal sweepstakes, aside from not entering.   Buying a product will not help.
  6. Odds suck. You are not likely to win, unless you enter a giveaway at a small-ish blog.  Sweepstakes and lotteries are required to disclose the odds of winning, generally, 1 in a gazillion.
  7. Businesses(and blogs!) hold giveaways or sweepstakes to draw attention to themselves.  It’s marketing and advertising, every time.   Companies do not give out thousands of dollars in prizes because they like you.
  8. I give our prizes because I like you.  And I want the attention.  It’s marketing, advertising, and gratitude.
  9. If you have to pay to get a random chance to win something, it’s a lottery. If it’s not run by the government, it’s almost definitely an illegal lottery.  Sweepstakes are free.
  10. Sometimes the entry solicitations look official. They are not. The companies do that to get more people to open their envelopes.  It is illegal to misrepresent themselves as a government agency.
  11. Always read the fine print.  There are a lot of things that can be included in the fine print to make it less attractive, like the right to sell your contact information, or your soul.  Try getting that back after a long weekend.
  12. If you don’t want to receive sweepstakes garbage in the mail, write to the company soliciting you.   The Federal Deceptive Mail Prevention and Enforcement Act requires them to remove you from their mailing list within 60 days.
  13. If you want to get rid of all of the junk mail, write to the Direct Marketing Association’s Mail Preference Service, Post Office Box 643, Carmel, NY 10512 and they will remove you from the lists of their members for 5 years.

It is possible to make money with sweepstakes, but the odds are low. Personally, I think it’s a waste of time.  Do you invest in the sweepstakes hobby?

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