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by Basil Nestor

Basil Nestor is author of "The Smarter Bet Guide to Craps," "The Smarter Bet Guide to Blackjack," and other comprehensive gambling guides. Got a question? Visit and drop him a line.

One night a few years ago, back when John Madden and Al Michaels were hosting Monday Night Football, the two men were chatting on the air about the psychological effect that losing has on a football team. Madden is usually an upbeat guy, but on this night he dropped into a moment of dark candor when he mused about the games he lost as head coach of the Oakland Raiders. Coping with those losses had been the toughest part of his job, and he implied it was one of the reasons why he quit. "Itís not the wins you remember," he said morosely. "Itís the losses that stay with you."

Those are grave words from a man who was one of the winningest coaches in football history. Moreover, the issue applies to any game. How do you survive a bad beat or a bad run? To be a winner, you have to play, and that requires a certain amount of losing. Sometimes it requires a lot of losing. And losing doesnít always come in small predictable spurts that are easy to sail through. Losing can be dramatic and unexpected (such as the legendary "Immaculate Reception" that crushed Maddenís quest for the Super Bowl in 1972). Other times, losing is long and drawn out. You can play a perfect strategy and still be way behind the optimal numbers and deep in the red after thousands of decisions. It happens. Even casinos occasionally have bad weeks and bad months when it seems as if the laws of mathematics have been turned upside down.

Weíre not automatons, weíre people, and losing hurts. The typical first reaction for most players is to retreat into a bad mood and wallow in misperceptions. That quickly leads to going off strategy. Sometimes even seasoned professionals take this dangerous path. Surrendering to a tilt episode is a quick way to vaporize a bankroll. Itís the gambling equivalent of death. Therefore, here are five tactics to help you avoid that catastrophe...

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