Background: My siblings are used to spending money without a care in the world and it has leaked into the board games we play. When we play games they always want to bet. When I ask them if we can just play for fun I am met with a lot of peer pressure and criticism. I just want to have fun and not make the game more stressful by losing money I really don't want to put out, but my family finds it less fun without betting. It's not a phenomenal amount of money and I could just suck it up and chip in so everyone is happy but owing family money is never fun.

Question: How do I deal with people who constantly bet at games when I don't want to bet.

Update: I like Onyz and Upper_case's answers. I will awake the next game night and try both of the answers and will accept which one works better. Let me know if this does not align with how Stack Exchange operates.

  • Do you mean, like, board and card games? Video games? Games with big betting pools? Or just personal bets?
    – gparyani
    Commented Sep 19, 2018 at 12:22
  • @gparyani Board games
    – LampPost
    Commented Sep 19, 2018 at 12:28
  • 3
    Would they (and you) be open to the idea of betting with something else than money? (sweets, chores, etc...)
    – Ael
    Commented Sep 19, 2018 at 12:57
  • @Noon That's actually an excellent idea!
    – LampPost
    Commented Sep 20, 2018 at 7:27

2 Answers 2


Firm But Gentle Boundaries!

This is a pretty common answer around here, so at the risk of repeating something that has been said before...

It's okay to just say no.

You: Oh, are you all going to play X?
Them: Yep, gonna play for money again!
You: Oh, no thank you, I'm not interested in playing for money.
Them: peer pressure
You: I appreciate it, but I think I'm going to go do [other activity] instead

I understand it can be hard to stick to your guns like this. In the past I've had trouble with it, but just like anything else the more you do it the easier it gets.

Something that has helped me in the past is to have a backup activity already in mind ahead of time, and script the conversation out in your head. Then when the time comes, you're not surprised and undefended, you're reading from a mental script.

Of course it goes without saying that if they acquiesce to your demands, you don't need to leave and do the backup activity. If they do, then you can play the way you want. If they don't, you still get to do your fun backup activity, right?

Hope that helps!


That sounds tough-- if the betting is their favorite part, you'll probably have a hard time separating them from it. Some possibilities:

1. Bet tokens that aren't money

If you bet poker chips instead of cash, the gambling element is still there but doesn't cost anyone any money. The tokens can still have some kind of value (being worth a chore, or control of the TV channel, or something else). They could even be redeemable for cash (i.e., they're good for chores but can also be traded at a face value of $1 or something).

They might not like this, as betting behaviors can be very different when the stakes are for money versus something else. But if the tokens have mutually appreciated value to you and your siblings it could be a great alternative.

2. Bet, but don't really collect

You can still bet on games, and win and lose those bets, without having any money actually change hands. If you instead keep a family ledger of outstanding "debts", it can still be clear who is winning and losing over time but the tab never needs to be closed out. Over the long run I would expect the debts to mostly cancel out, though even if that's not the case as long as the tab is not called it wouldn't really matter.

3. Make book!

This is my favorite approach. If you have studied (or are willing to study a bit of) statistics, you can organize bets and side bets between your siblings. This is more complicated than just saying "I'll bet $5 I win this game", but also allows for more interesting bets (with varied odds, conditions, etc.). Correctly assigning odds to attract bets in workable proportions means that you generally won't lose any money. If you take a margin on payouts you can even make money (though I personally would not do so in a case like this).

This would allow betting to occur to your siblings' preferences, inherently removes you from betting, and (depending on what you find interesting) may add something of interest to you in the betting process.

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