For anyone who has spent any amount of in an ultra-cold, windowless casino, breathing in pumped in recycled air, you know that the house wants you awake enough to keep putting money on the table. For me, an ex-full-time-ish poker deviant (and now just an occasional deviant dabbler), my go-to was always coffee; alcohol was for suckers looking to have a good time throwing money away. But I wasn’t there for fun, I was there to win, so I needed my wits about me. At least six cups of free casino coffee should do the trick, no?

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But according to Extra Crispy, a study shows consuming caffeine will actually make you worse at gambling.

Published in the journal Addictive Behaviors, the study is a joint effort between researchers at Cambridge and the University of Chicago. The researchers followed 60 “problem gamblers” and tracked their caffeine consumption during their gambling sessions and found that those consuming caffeine “exhibited a five percent greater likelihood of placing a bad bet.”

This dip in play may be caused by two things. From the article:

While we think of coffee and other energy-providing beverages as the opposite of brain-fogging alcohol, caffeine does in fact impact decision-making centers in the brain. There’s also possibly a bit of a weird placebo effect: if we think a cup of coffee sharpens the mind, it’s easier to be convinced that the betting strategies you’re considering is the right one.

While a five percent dip seems nominal, gambling and poker are all about the numbers and knowing the odds. With even a one percent advantage, over a long enough period of time the house will bleed you dry. So drink coffee sparingly. When it’s 2:15am and half the table are sitting on some big stacks and are trying to bribe the server into one last round of shots, a coffee may not be a bad idea. But remember, jacked on caffeine or not, “but they were suited” is always a bad rationalization for talking yourself into a hand.

Zac Cadwalader is the news editor at Sprudge Media Network and a staff writer based in Dallas. Read more Zac Cadwalader on Sprudge.

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