Why gambling is used as a training tool

Why gambling is used as a training tool

Imagine yourself playing the biggest pool tournament you’ve ever played in your life. Standing in the middle of an arena filled with people following every move you make in complete silence. The adrenaline is running through your body. Your heart beats faster than you actually want. Your hands start to shake a little bit and get clammy. You’re grabbing your cue tighter than you would normally do to prevent it from shaking. The ‘What if…’ thoughts start running through your head. Flaws start to show during the execution of the delicate technique needed in pool. This is the moment where you need to get your act together and take control of the situation. You will learn how through experience, and gambling.

A mental sport

Pool is a sport in which you need to keep control over your emotions and must be able to handle pressure to keep performing at your best level in a situation in which you experience pressure. It’s of great importance not to show any insecurity towards your opponent, because he or she could get a moral boost from your insecure performance.

Awareness about, and control over your body language, facial expression, attitude, and everything else that has to do with your body reflecting how you feel is therefore a necessity in order to create a performance that intimidates your opponent. Your whole being must show confidence. It doesn’t matter if it’s true, or not.

Training mental skills

For a reason I’m about to explain, gambling has found it’s way into pool as a training tool for mental skills. It has been an integral part of pool for a long time. I’ll save the historic explanation for another time.

It’s common for pool players to bet money on their own games. It creates pressure. Gambling therefore creates a situation, or experience, in which a player can practice how to play under, and handle pressure. It adds to your experience, for which you would normally have to travel to who knows where, to play a tournament. The bet should be high enough for you to care in order to meet its purpose as a training tool. It’s a way for players to oblige themselves to not play like a mindless fool.

People want to win money, because it’s a quite important element to survival. But, if you don’t really care about winning money, for whatever reason, you probably don’t want to lose it either. So, play not to lose any. If you also don’t care about losing it, you shouldn’t gamble. I don’t really care about winning money, but I do care about the pressure and definitely don’t want to lose money. I’ve learned that gambling can play an important role in the psychological development of a pool player. I haven’t figured out yet if it’s a good, or bad thing to use money as a motivator.

It doesn’t work for everybody

However, there are players that are genuinely more motivated to keep themselves focused during all times. They always play serious and keep their long term goals, of becoming a better player, in mind. Discipline is the obvious requirement to get there, like it is in any sport or for everyone who want to accomplish something in life (I should memorize that one myself). In that sense gambling is just a solution for the weak who are not able to discipline themselves.

It doesn’t have to be money

Pressure is something you create yourself. It doesn’t exist outside your own brain. Gambling therefore doesn’t have to be about money when you do it for training purposes. If you, for example, like the haircut you wear on that head of yours, it might be an idea to make a bet to shave your head when you lose. Or the loser has to wear something you would classify as ridiculous, in a very uncomfortable way, for the rest of the week. That will probably prevent you from playing like you don’t care.

Maybe everyone should start gambling. Maybe not. Gambling, as a training tool, might help you to make the right decision under pressure, a useful skill in daily life as well. I’ll leave it up to you. Don’t hold me responsible when things go wrong.

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About Pepijn de Wit

I’m an adventurous 30-year-old from the Netherlands. I started playing pool as a nine-year-old standing on an empty Coca-Cola crate to be able to reach the cue ball and grew out to a hobbyist with 15 national titles on his name. Now, I consider myself a one pocket enthusiast and push for one pocket to electrify the Netherlands and Europe. I therefore started the One Pocket Series, a national tour to promote the game. Next to that, I've studied cultural anthropology, I currently work at a casino, and truly love the outdoors. My ambitions are big, my dreams even bigger.