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The gambler's fallacy: How can players avoid it?

The gambler's fallacy: How can players avoid it?

The gambler's fallacy: How can players avoid it?

Mon Aug 22 2022 07:00:00 GMT+0000 (Coordinated Universal Time)

People who enjoy frequenting casinos, both veteran and novice players alike, can fall for the gambler's fallacy without even knowing it. It occurs when a player places a bet based on patterns from independent events found when playing.

The gambler's fallacy can take different forms depending on the game being played. However, when left unchecked, this can be detrimental to players and lead to huge losses. is here to help you understand what the gambler's fallacy is and how you can avoid it.

What is the gambler's fallacy?

Also known as the ‘Monte Carlo fallacy’ and the ‘fallacy of the maturity of chance’, this event took place in a casino in Monte Carlo in 1913 during a game of roulette. While playing, the ball landed on black during the last ten spins and players started betting against black, assuming that the ball was due to land on the red section.  

Unfortunately, it wasn’t until after 26 consecutive spins of the ball continuously ending on black that it finally landed on red. Gamblers who have fallen for the gambler's fallacy had amassed huge losses for believing that the ball would land on red after each turn. 

Why do players fall for the gambler's fallacy? 

There are several reasons why a player can unknowingly fall for the gambler's fallacy and it is largely rooted in the lack of understanding when it comes to the randomness of certain events, especially in gambling. Here are two of the biggest reasons why people fall prey to this misconception:

  1. The inherent desire to make sense of random events 

While the unpredictability of a specific outcome can be exhilarating to some, it can also be unsettling. People have a natural tendency to try and rationalise events through patterns and history even when there is no basis or connection to each other. 

When you consider it, our society is built upon a clear set of rules that follow a certain logic. Thus, people are inclined to search for a system to make sense of specific situations regardless of their randomness.

  1. The scientific process of the human mind

There is a term in science called ‘representativeness heuristic’. It is a process the human brain uses when trying to assess the odds of an event occurring. As an example, say you are at a boutique where the salespeople often wear black jeans and a white shirt.

Due to the influence of your previous knowledge,  there’s a tendency to approach a person wearing the same attire assuming they must work there only to find out they are also a customer. Relying solely on existing prototypes and discounting other information can cause such mistakes. Thus, this way of thinking is often associated with the gambler's fallacy.

Examples of Gambler’s Fallacy

Tthe gambler's fallacy can happen in almost in any situation. It can occur even in day-to-day scenarios when you make use of patterns based on independent events. 

However, it is most often detrimental when it occurs during high-stake situations, especially when money is involved. Here are some examples of the gambler's fallacy that can help you identify when and how it usually occurs:

  1. Coin flip

The most common example you’ll find of a gambler’s fallacy is through a game of coin flip. Say the coin keeps landing on tails for the next five turns. Most people would think that it’s due to land on heads. However, each flip of a coin has an equal chance of landing on either heads or tails which means the previous results do not influence any future results.

  1. Dice Roll

Imagine rolling two sixes on a pair of dice while playing. This situation has an odd of 1 to 36. With the gambler's fallacy, one would assume that there is a lesser chance for the next roll to also be two sixes. This is untrue since the past and future results are independent of each other.

  1. Casino gambling

Gambler’s fallacy most commonly occurs with casino games. Even though the games are largely based on luck, people tend to believe they can predict a possible outcome.

It can occur in different forms depending on the game being played. Aside from the roulette example during the 1913 game in Monte Carlo, the gambler's fallacy can also occur in a game of poker. 

One common example of this is when a player is on a ‘hot streak’, and they go all-in on a draw-heavy round when you believe you have the better hand. 

Some players will base their decision on past results, the mood of the table, and superstitions that improve luck in gambling. However, not making use of logic and the knowledge you have on hand by blindly assuming the opposing player is still on a ‘winning streak’ can lead you to make the wrong call. 

Another casino game where players often fall for the gambler's fallacy is slot games. Some players tend to identify patterns as the reels continue to spin. However, the results of each spin are randomly produced through the Random Number Generator or RNG which produces random numbers through an algorithm and functions as the brain of a slot game.

  1. Sports gambling

Though many people fail to realise it, the gambler's fallacy is also present when it comes to sports betting. People sometimes rely on past results to determine the probability of the game’s result. 

As a sample, whenever a particular team is on a streak, these common misconceptions have bettors believing that the end of their winning is sure to come. 

However, there are more logical reasons that should be factored in. Consider the state and performance of the players, their morale and health, and whether injuries occurred in the previous event that would affect game performance and dynamics.

  1. Investing

The gambler's fallacy, while harmless on some occasions, can be extremely detrimental when applied to situations with real and high stakes. Consider stock market investments as an example. 

Simply because the market has been reaching new highs for days in a row, some investors would assume it is bound to fall soon and decide to liquidate their assets. While this scenario can occur, it is not based on chance alone. There are real and powerful forces that drive the market and there are available data one can use to make a better judgement.  

Tips to avoid the gambler's fallacy

Most veteran players will have heard of gambler’s fallacy and even they can fall for it sometimes. Being aware of how the gambler's fallacy can occur already goes a long way to avoiding it. However, there are more ways to make sure you’re playing smart.  

  1. Remember that each random event is an independent occurrence

It bears repeating that the result of most casino games is random. It can be easy to forget when emotions are high and you’re lost in the thrill of the game but consistently reminding yourself that the past result has no basis in the possible turnout will help you avoid falling for the gambler's fallacy.

  1. Make use of more applicable strategies

Applying strategic thinking in online gambling is one of the ways veteran players come out ahead of novice players. Several strategies can be applied to your gameplay depending on the casino game you choose. Determining which strategy better suits you in achieving your goals and sticking to it as you play is one way to make sure you don’t fall for the gambler's fallacy.

  1. Exercise discipline when placing bets

Some old habits die hard and even those who are aware of the gambler's fallacy can still fall for it, especially during high-stake games when the game is getting intense and emotions are running high. 

Take a moment to gather your emotions and consider the most logical step to make without getting influenced by previous and unrelated results. 

The gambler's fallacy FAQs

Why do people fall for the gambler's fallacy?

There are many reasons why people fall for the gambler's fallacy, prime among them is the fact that humans are naturally inclined to find patterns in trying to make sense of a situation. 

While this is not a bad thing and can often be helpful in different situations, it is important to differentiate between a purely random event and one that follows a proven pattern.

Is there a psychology behind the gambler's fallacy?

Gambler’s fallacy is a cognitive bias referred to as a ‘representativeness heuristic’. It is a mental process used in determining the probability of an event in the face of uncertainty. To put it simply, a person will assess the likelihood of an event based on previous events.

Is gambler’s fallacy and hot-hand fallacy the same?

No, the two types of fallacies work opposite each other. With the gambler's fallacy, people assume that the results will change based on the frequency of previous results. 

For instance, a player on a losing streak will think that they are due for a win. Alternatively, with the hot-hand fallacy, a player on a winning streak will assume that they are bound to continue this winning pattern. 

How do you avoid the gambler's fallacy?

The first step is acknowledging that the gambler's fallacy is rooted in a natural human response to find patterns even when there is none. Once you understand that, you can easily notice whenever you’re trying to base decisions on patterns meant to be independent of each other. 

Say you’re playing craps and the dice land on double sixes. You might be inclined to believe that it can’t roll on the same side again because it has already occurred. However, the likelihood of that happening is independent of the previous results. 

Letting go of this bias and reminding yourself of the facts, which in this case is the 1/36 odds of landing a double six, will far better guide you when making a decision.   

Forget the gambler's fallacy and apply better strategies

The gambler's fallacy can occur when one determines the likelihood of a random event based on the frequency of previous results. While it can happen in any scenario, it is most often attributed to casino gaming because most casino games are largely won at random.

However, you can correct your tendencies to make decisions based on such patterns by applying logic and making use of strategies that will give you a better chance of winning. Luckily, there are a ton of gaming strategies from, like this Texas Hold’em Poker Strategy, for you to use when playing so you don’t make the mistake of relying on the gambler's fallacy. 

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The gambler's fallacy: How can players avoid it?

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