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Two Psychological Mistakes to Avoid When Hitting the Roulette Tables


28 Aug 2016

Psychology is a big factor within gambling.

Some players may convince themselves that they are feeling particularly lucky at a given moment, others want to right a previous gambling wrong by avoiding the making of a mistake that cost them last time and some feel they have been especially unlucky on a previous betting attempt and so feel forced into attempting to recoup their losses.

Having the right mindset is essential to making money in the long run, with regular breaks, the ability to put unfortunate losses to the back of the mind and avoiding the urge to overindulge in alcohol all significant.

Below are two psychological betting traps that people can often fall into, with some explanation as to why they are best avoided:

The Monte Carlo Fallacy

If the same coin was tossed five times in a row and on the first four occasions it landed on a head, would another head or a tail be most likely to appear on the fifth toss?

This is a question which wouldn’t look out of place on a maths exam paper, with many people prone to believe that the law of averages indicate that a tail is due.

It is true that before the sequence of heads happened, the chances of either tossing five heads or five tails in a row is 3.125%.

However, it should be remembered that each toss is individual from those to have gone before – the coin has no memory of what has previously been flipped. The chances of tossing a fifth successive head when the previous four have landed this way remains 50%.

This same logic transfers to the roulette wheel, which also has no memory as to whether the last five outcomes have been red, black or the green zero.

Therefore, if the ball has fallen into a red number for four consecutive spins, this should not dictate the next bet.

People love to follow form. Take a horse as an example. They may have run into a rich vein of form, winning three races in a row as the time of year has brought out the best in them. They like the course they are running at, the distance they are racing over, the ground they are running on and they have built up a perfect relationship with a certain jockey. It is a match made in heaven.

It is understandable why it makes sense to bet on their win streak continuing and a host of factors may all dictate that the horse’s chances of winning are much superior to all of their rivals.

There are no such factors in roulette, with each result completely independent. Black isn’t due any more than it was on the last spin or red is not on a winning streak that is likely to continue to go on for any considerable length of time.

The Monte Carlo Fallacy is the psychological bias of betting a certain direction because it hasn’t occurred as frequently as it should have.

So a roulette player shouldn’t up their stakes or place all of their chips on a particular value solely based on events of the last few spins, even if a pattern seems to be emerging.

Gambler’s Ruin

The majority of people will have stumbled across Aesop’s Fable of the Tortoise and the Hare, with one of the teachings of the story being that perseverance can prevail in the long run.

This same thought process should be adopted within gambling, but often isn’t.

If a player embarks on a winning streak at the tables and is in considerable profit compared to their initial stack of chips, the typical move is to start upping the amount they bet.

The thought process is that the player arrived at the tables with £50 and was arguably prepared to gamble and lose this amount. When ahead, they continue to adopt the policy that the profit is free money rather than their own. As a result, they are prepared to bet big to chase even greater winnings.

Yet, when the opposite happens, players don’t make a similar adjustment by reducing the amount of their regular stake. Instead, they again up their stakes as a way of chasing their run of losses.

This unsymmetrical method of bank management is what is referred to as gambler’s ruin and is unlikely to end in eventual profit.

The best policy is to stick to the same standard bet and not move it up and down alongside the development of a chip stack.