Gambling as a training tool is tricky business

Gambling as a training tool is tricky business

– Follow up on Why gambling is used as a training tool

Gambling is often used as a training tool in pool to create a situation in which a player experiences pressure in order to learn how to handle pressure and/or to not play like a mindless fool. Players benefit from such training during tournaments. The experience of  pressure originating from a monetary bet, changes over time. You’ll get used to it. It’s that part that makes gambling as a training tool tricky business.

First of all, money needs to have some kind of meaning to you in order to create any pressure. If it doesn’t, it cannot be used as a training tool. There are people who don’t get motivated by money, or who don’t need gambling to be focused at all times. These people often have a more genuine motivation to become a better player and therefore always try to play their best game, because they keep their long term goal in mind.

For now, let’s assume money is a motivator for a pool player. In that case, the bet needs to be high enough in order to create any pressure. Most people don’t play more serious, or get nervous, when they play for five bucks. Playing for twenty dollars per set will make a lot of people think it might be best not to do anything excessively crazy. When the bet goes up to a hundred dollars, most people tend to play more cautious and stick to defensive play instead of going for a difficult shot that involves the risk of selling out (give away an easy chance to the opponent to win the game).


It depends on your own perception of money what the right amount of money is for you to gamble with as part of your training. That perception in its turn depends on what socio-economic environment you were raised, and/or live in. Therefore, the notion of a lot, or a little money has to be put in perspective. I can imagine that every dollar counts when you just have enough to make ends meet. Others, who don’t have to worry about money, in my experience, don’t care about losing twenty dollars. Although, that’s a fairly dangerous statement when you live in the Netherlands where the stereotype of parsimonious Dutch people dominates.

The newbee 

At first, when you’re new to gambling, playing for twenty dollars might make you play a serious game and creates the right amount of pressure for you to use the money as a training tool. It’s probably an amount you actually don’t want to lose, but you won’t starve to death if you do. After a while, that twenty dollars won’t create the same pressure as it did before, because you’re getting used to it. So, to create that same pressure as before to get that delightful adrenaline shot, you raise the stakes to fifty per set. Doing that for a while has the same result as it did before with the twenty dollars, so you raise the bet again to keep it interesting.

What’s the limit?

You probably should draw a line somewhere in order to prevent yourself from becoming a degenerate gambler who doesn’t know his limits. Otherwise, you’ll become one of those guys who bet their car, house, watch, or wedding ring on a game until they’ve got nothing left. I heard stories about pool players doing those kind of things. There even was a guy who sent his girlfriend around the hotel, where the Derby City Classic was held, to give blowjobs in order to earn some extra bucks for him to gamble with. Don’t quote me on that. Those are just stories by hearsay. I heard this rumor when I was at the DCC in 2015. The place where you’ll find the most intense, and mental gambling action in the world of pool. Last January, I was told that there were two guys at the DCC playing a match for $80.000. I’ll just stick to my hundred dollar games, for now.

I admit, those examples might be a little extreme, but it’s good entertainment. My point being, is that you should be aware of this effect that gambling has when you use it as a training tool. Draw a line.

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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.