For better or worse, there’s been a distinct association between drugs and gambling for many years. Some of the most successful gamblers of our time were known drug abusers. Stu Ungar, 5x WSOP bracelet winner and 3x WSOP champion, overdosed multiple times, and eventually died from a heart condition associated with years of drug abuse.
But not all drugs are necessarily bad for gamblers. Some pros swear by them, claiming they make them a better gambler.
While the illegal variety is never considered a positive thing, there are some prescription medicines that have been proven to increase cognitive awareness. These are the types of drugs we’ll be talking about today.
First and foremost, when it comes to deciding which drugs enhance a blackjack or poker players abilities, only a doctor is capable of making that assessment. Only a doctor can prescribe pharmaceuticals anyway, and even over the counter drugs should be discussed with your doctor before taking them. S/He will know best, based on your current medical condition, which drugs might have a positive effect on your system.
This is a serious matter, and I do hope you take the above warning into account. With that said, here’s a list of the most common drug said to make some players a better gambler.
Drugs and Gambling: ADHD Medication
The most common drugs used for gambling purposes are prescription medications designated for the treatment of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, or ADHD. Such medications include big-name brands like Adderall and Ritalin. These are central nervous system stimulants that affect chemical activity in the brain, helping patients to focus on a single activity.
As for whether ADHD drugs and gambling go well together, it’s a bit of a two-sided coin.
On the one hand, they could help blackjack players make the right decisions, based on an unwavering strategy. If they plan to count cards, though, that could prove a more difficult process. ADHD meds are not designed for multi-tasking.
For poker players, it could certainly increase their focus and duration at the tables (Adderall is also used to treat narcolepsy), but it impairs other mental capacities, like calculating the odds of multiple outcomes.
Drugs and Gambling: Beta Blockers
Beta-blockers like Acebutotol, Metoprolol and others, are prescribed for lots of reasons; everything from migraines and high blood pressure, to arrhythmia (irregular heart beat). They work by blocking the brain’s reaction to epinephrine (adrenaline).
Essentially, they keep the patient calm during times that would otherwise be stressful. A player who suffers from anxiety when faced with a difficult decision in poker – why the hell did he just 3-bet me?!? – could find some relief from such medications.
However, like many prescription drugs these days, there are some nasty side effects to be considered. The potential for hair loss and erectile dysfunction should be enough to persuade most of you in a different direction.
Drugs and Gambling: Cannabis
I already know what you’re thinking. I just said above that illegal drugs are “never considered a positive thing” for gamblers. But cannabis, or marijuana, isn’t illegal everywhere (although it may require a prescription), and while I don’t recommend it myself , it is the most commonly used drug in the gambling arena.
It definitely offers a calming effect and, for some, a sharper focus – the ability to look beyond what’s right in front of you. But if you’ve ever tried the stuff, you know your train of thought can become extremely long (and easily distracted), and at any given moment, while deep in the throes of a perfectly laid strategical decision, that train could leave the station all together.
Losing track of thought during a blackjack or poker game is obviously not going to make you a better gambler. Those who claim to use marijuana as a positive way to combine drugs and gambling most often recommend just one or two hits – no more.