Understanding Self-Exclusion and Cooling-off Periods in Poker

In the world of poker, responsible gambling practices play a vital role in ensuring a healthy and enjoyable experience for players. One significant aspect is self-exclusion, a powerful tool that allows individuals to take control of their gambling habits.


In this blog, we will explore the concept of self-exclusion in poker, its importance, and how to utilize this option to promote responsible play effectively.


What Is Self-Exclusion?

Self-exclusion is a voluntary program offered by gambling establishments, such as online poker platforms and brick-and-mortar casinos, or your state (e.g., California’s Self-Exclusion Program), designed to help individuals limit or abstain from gambling activities for a specified period. It is a proactive measure taken by individuals who recognize that they may have a gambling problem or wish to take a break from gambling to regain control over their habits.


Purpose and Benefits of Self-Exclusion

The primary purpose of self-exclusion is to provide individuals with a means to protect themselves from the potential harms of excessive gambling. By voluntarily excluding themselves from gambling activities, individuals can create a safer environment and reduce the risk of developing or exacerbating gambling-related issues.


Self-exclusion offers several benefits:

Limiting Access To Gambling

Self-exclusion helps individuals break the cycle of continuous gambling by restricting their access to poker games and other gambling activities, giving them an opportunity to reflect on their behaviors and make more deliberate choices.


Regaining Control

For individuals who feel that their gambling habits have become problematic or are negatively impacting their lives, self-exclusion provides a means to regain control. It empowers individuals to manage their gambling behaviors proactively and make healthier choices.


Promoting Responsible Gambling

Self-exclusion aligns with the principles of responsible gambling, encouraging individuals to gamble within their means and limits and serving as a reminder to prioritize responsible behavior and exercise self-awareness regarding one’s gambling habits.


Preventing Financial Losses

Excessive gambling can lead to significant financial losses; self-exclusion helps individuals reassess their financial situation and priorities and avoid impulsive and reckless behavior that may result in financial distress.


The Process of Self-Exclusion

Self-exclusion is a structured process that involves several steps:


Step 1: Assessing Your Gambling Habits

The first step is to assess your gambling habits honestly. Reflect on the frequency and duration of your gambling sessions, the amount of money you spend, and any negative consequences it may have on your personal, professional, or financial life. This self-reflection helps you gain insight into whether your gambling habits have become problematic and whether self-exclusion is a necessary step for you.


Step 2: Deciding to Self-Exclude

After assessing your gambling habits, it’s important to make a conscious decision to self-exclude. By doing so, you are taking an active role in managing your gambling habits and prioritizing responsible gambling.


Step 3: Choosing the Duration of Self-Exclusion

When self-excluding, you have the option to choose the duration of your exclusion period. Different platforms and casinos may offer various options. We cover this in a separate section below.


Step 4: Notifying the Platform or Casino

Once you have decided to self-exclude and chosen the duration, the next step is to notify the relevant platform or casino. This notification serves as a formal request to implement the self-exclusion measures.


Online poker platforms usually provide a self-exclusion option in the account settings, while brick-and-mortar casinos may have specific procedures, such as filling out a form or speaking with a staff member.


Step 5: Account Suspension and Restrictions

After notifying the platform or casino, they will take the necessary steps to suspend your account and impose restrictions that prevent you from participating in any gambling activities.


For online poker platforms, this typically means your account will be temporarily suspended, and you will be unable to access any games or make any wagers during the self-exclusion period. At brick-and-mortar casinos, self-exclusion may involve being banned from entering the premises or accessing gambling areas.


Please note that the steps discussed serve only as a general guideline. Each specific establishment or program may have its own guidelines and requirements that need to be followed when it comes to self-exclusion. It is important to familiarize yourself with the policies and procedures of the particular local casino, platform/online poker site, or state regulation you are engaging with to ensure proper implementation and adherence to their responsible gaming measures.


Importance of Commitment and Follow-Through

Commitment and follow-through are vital throughout the self-exclusion process. Once you have initiated the self-exclusion, you should do your best to adhere to the restrictions and not attempt to circumvent them.


It requires discipline and determination to respect self-imposed boundaries and refrain from engaging in gambling activities during the exclusion period. However, remember that by staying committed to the process, you enhance the effectiveness of self-exclusion in managing your gambling habits and reducing the potential harm associated with excessive gambling.


Additionally, note that self-exclusion is just one part of a comprehensive approach to addressing problematic gambling behavior. Seeking additional resources and support from professionals, such as counselors or organizations specializing in gambling addiction, and engaging in support groups can greatly assist in maintaining responsible gambling habits and addressing any underlying issues that may contribute to the problem.


Duration of Self-Exclusion Periods

Self-exclusion periods can vary, allowing individuals to choose the duration that best suits their needs and goals. The duration of self-exclusion plays a crucial role in providing individuals with the necessary time and space to address their gambling habits and make positive changes.


If you prefer to temporarily block yourself from a poker site for a duration shorter than six months, opting for a Time Out or Cooling Off Period would be more suitable, as these options are designed for shorter intervals compared to self-exclusion.


Factors To Consider When Choosing a Duration

How Severe the Gambling Problem Is

The severity of your gambling problem should be a primary consideration when choosing a self-exclusion duration. If you recognize that your gambling habits have become significantly problematic or have resulted in financial, emotional, or interpersonal difficulties, a longer self-exclusion period may be more appropriate. This additional time can provide the necessary space for healing, reflection, and implementing positive changes.


Personal Preferences and Goals

Consider your personal preferences and goals when deciding on a self-exclusion duration. Reflect on what you hope to achieve during the self-exclusion period and how long you believe you will need to accomplish those goals. Some individuals may find shorter durations more manageable, while others may feel that a longer break is necessary to make substantial progress. Choose a duration that aligns with your objectives and allows you to address your gambling habits effectively.


Cooling off Periods in Online Poker

A cooling-off period refers to a designated period during which individuals voluntarily abstain from participating in online poker or other gambling activities. During the self-exclusion period, the casinos offering it would take every measure to prevent any notification, advertisement, or promotion from reaching the user.


The purpose of a cooling-off period is to create distance and provide individuals with a chance to take a step back, reassess their gambling habits, and regain control over their behavior.


Advantages of Taking a Break From Poker

Regaining Control Over Gambling Habits

One of the primary benefits of a cooling-off period is that it provides individuals with an opportunity to regain control over their gambling habits. Individuals can interrupt the automatic or compulsive behavior associated with gambling and establish healthier patterns of play by taking a break, allowing them to reflect on the role of poker in their lives and make conscious decisions about how to engage with the game responsibly.


Breaking the Cycle of Impulsive Play

Cooling-off periods help individuals break the cycle of impulsive play, where decisions are driven by momentary emotions or urges rather than careful consideration. By stepping away from poker for a designated period, individuals can develop healthier decision-making processes and avoid making impulsive bets or chasing losses. This break provides the necessary space to develop strategies for responsible play and reduce the risk of making reckless or uninformed gambling choices.


Reflecting on Gambling Behavior and Consequences

During a cooling-off period, individuals can reflect on their gambling behavior and the consequences it may have had on their personal, financial, and emotional well-being. This reflection allows for a deeper understanding of the impact of gambling and its potential risks. By analyzing past experiences, individuals can set realistic goals and boundaries for their future involvement in poker.


Tips for Utilizing Cooling-off Periods Effectively

Set Specific Goals for the Break

Before starting a cooling-off period, it can be helpful to set specific goals and intentions for the break so you can make the most of the cooling-off period and maximize its benefits. These goals may include improving self-control, gaining insights into personal gambling triggers, developing healthier coping mechanisms, or seeking professional help or support.


Engage in Alternative Activities

During a cooling-off period, find alternative activities to occupy time and redirect energy away from gambling. Engaging in hobbies, sports, exercise, or spending quality time with loved ones can help fill the void left by poker and provide a sense of fulfillment. Exploring new interests or reconnecting with old ones can also contribute to personal growth and well-being.



Understanding and utilizing self-exclusion options in poker is essential to prioritizing responsible gambling, ensuring a healthier and more enjoyable poker experience. Self-exclusion and cooling-off periods provide individuals with the tools to reflect, reassess, and make positive changes.


Let us remember that responsible gambling and self-care go hand in hand, promoting moderation, self-awareness, and a sustainable approach to the game we love.

Capitol Casino is committed to promoting and supporting responsible gaming practices. If you have any questions about our responsible gaming policies, please feel free to Call us at 916.446.0700  — or better yet — head to 411 N 16th St, Sacramento, CA, 95811. Also, if you have a gaming problem, call 1-800-Gambler or visit https://www.cdph.ca.gov/Programs/OPG.