Psychology in Playing Casino Games: Avoiding The Gambler’s Fallacy

There is always psychology in the activities that we do including gambling. It’s common for people to discuss problematic behaviors when talking about psychology in gaming and when it comes to this, the gambler’s fallacy can easily come to mind. Even if you’ve never heard of this before, you’ve probably already experienced it. Especially if you’re new to playing casino games or betting on sports.

In psychology, Gambler’s Fallacy is defined as a mistaken belief about sequences of random events. It is a form of cognitive bias and also an error in people’s perception of randomness. The easier way to explain it or make it relatable to gamblers is believing in winning or losing streaks. 

Some gamblers tend to believe that the games that they play are probably rigged. We can’t say this is impossible but as long as you only deal with legit and reputable casino sites on, you shouldn’t have to worry about this. However, even if it is generally fair and safe to gamble online nowadays, some players still believe in streaks that could affect how they gamble.

Understanding The Gambler’s Fallacy and Where it Came From

The Gambler’s Fallacy, in particular, only pertains to the belief of a reversal in luck after a prolonged run of a certain outcome. This could be about expecting to lose after experiencing a series of wins or the other way around. It’s a fallacy because the latest result of a casino game that you play like slots is independent of its previous outcome.

Originally, this was referred to as the Monte Carlo Fallacy which has been around since 1913. However, this was particularly made famous in the 1970s by Amos Tversky and Daniel Kahneman. They were studying cognitive biases and were trying to find out what causes people to make irrational decisions.  

The reason why this was initially called the Monte Carlo Fallacy is that this behavior was first observed and pointed out during a roulette game at a Monte Carlo Casino in 1913. One night, a group of people has been playing roulette and the ball fell into black 26 times in a row. 

This happens extremely rarely or at least only once in 136.8 billion chances, and it’s understandable why even seasoned gamblers thought that the next turn would be different. That night, the people on the table felt confident that each round would be different and on the 27th spin, massive losses have already occurred.

Edmond Hoyle set this as an example in his book, Hoyle’s Games, to further clarify what this fallacy is about. In the book, it said, “If you will toss a coin and put down all the times that it comes one way five times running, you will find that in just half those cases it will go the same way again. Note all the times that it goes six times one way, and you will find that in half of them it will go seven. As they roll about 4,000 times a week at Monte Carlo, or 200,000 a year, it ought to come red fifteen times in succession at least once during that time.

“Any person who offers to give odds on account of the maturity of the chances is betting against himself. If a coin has been tossed five times heads, and a man offers to bet 2 to 1 that it will not come heads again, he is just as foolish as if he offered to bet 2 to 1 against the first toss of all.

“It is by knowing the folly of such bets, and taking them up at once, that some men get rich, whether the odds are in business or gaming. It is the acceptance of unfair odds that makes the keeping of a gambling house so profitable. If a person offers you odds that are not fair, it is your fault if you accept them. The science of betting is to offer odds that look well but that give the bettor a little the best of it in the long run.”

How to Avoid It

Cognitive biases like this could take a while to get rid of. However, the key to doing so is awareness and proper reasoning. Just awareness alone may not be enough to completely avoid this and debiasing techniques may be needed. An example of a debiasing technique that could work here is having to emphasize the independence of one outcome to another.

What you always need to keep in mind is the next result of the slot machine game that you are playing or the matches that you have wagered on have nothing to do with the previous rounds or outcome of the games. 

What you have to do is to always keep a fresh mind every new round of the game. Forget the result of the previous roll of the dice and start new. Not because the dice landed in black five times already, it means that the dice will land on red next. Again, all results are random and unpredictable. And so, your decision when placing a bet should also be random when playing such games.

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