Understanding the Gambler’s Fallacy and How to Avoid it

by Tim | Feb 03, 2023

Understanding the Gambler’s Fallacy and How to Avoid it

There’s no gaming myth as prevalent as the gambler’s fallacy. It’s time to debunk this myth in order to protect your betting strategy and help you play and think like a pro. Join us as we unpack what the fallacy is, where it originated from, and how to avoid it when you play online casino games, such as our great online slots in the UK

The incredible origin of the Monte Carlo fallacy

To explain how the myth got its name and demonstrate how relying on it can wipe out your bankroll, we’re going back in time to Monte Carlo, 1913. At the Monte Carlo Casino, a game of roulette started like any other, with reasonably sized bets and the usual crowd. But after the ball landed on black several times consecutively, players excitedly began to place large bets on red, believing that the ball obviously had to land on red next. It seemed like a no-brainer. But, alas, the ball only landed on red after 27 spins of the wheel. It was an incredibly rare occurrence which cost a number of players their entire bankroll. But what did they do wrong? After the ball had landed on black so many times, the chances of it landing on red had to be significantly higher, right?

What is the gambler’s fallacy and how does it work?

In life, it’s tempting to think that all things are connected and dependent on each other. But some events, such as the toss of a coin or the roll of a die, are random and independent. The results of your previous dice roll or coin toss can’t influence what will happen next. But in cases such as the Monte Carlo incident, it’s easy to let past events convince you that you can predict future results. 

A coin always has a 50% chance of landing on heads, even if it’s landed on tails 10 times consecutively. Every toss is unaffected by previous results. The same is true of dice rolls or results produced by random number generators (RNGs). If we’re honest, we all would have bet heavily on red if we were in Monte Carlo on that fateful day. But logic should always remind us that the spin of a roulette wheel is just another example of the independence of events: no matter how many times the ball has landed on black, the chances of it landing on red remain unchanged.  

The fallacy can be described as a failure to correctly judge whether events are related or unrelated. When we draw a card from a single deck, it affects how we predict further draws. Coin flips, slots and dice rolls don’t work the same way. When you bet heavily on a slot after someone won on it – which made you believe it’s a “hot slot” – you’ve fallen prey to this myth. The gambler’s fallacy impacts our thinking in many areas of our lives. Consider this: how many of the events we believe are directly related, are in fact unrelated and independent? How can we protect ourselves from this misleading and often costly way of thinking?

How to avoid gambler’s fallacy when you play

A group of gamblers placing bets at a roulette table.

Every gambler wants to ensure they are in the best state of mind and have the best strategy when they bet and play online. Here are a few ways in which you can avoid confusing related and unrelated events when you play online. 

Learn how casino games work

Not all events in a casino game are independent. To understand which games are affected by previous results and which aren’t, spend time learning about a casino game before you play. Learn about the rules, how cards are dealt and how rounds work. You can also study the odds of different bets and how they change as the game progresses. 

For example, some events in a poker game are related, while others aren’t. Find out how many decks are used at a poker table because that will relate to the extent another player’s up cards will affect the cards you draw next. 

Embrace the random in “random number generator”

Some events in land-based casinos might work differently in online games. Your strategy for live dealer table games might not be the same for RNG games, such as video poker. Games that use RNGs have random results which are truly unrelated. With a RNG, it’s almost impossible to predict what will happen next. These programs are widely used in online gaming to keep results fair, which makes most events in online casino games truly independent and random. 

Separate superstition from logic

In the Monte Carlo incident, many people thought that a bet on red was logical. When you make an important decision in a game, study your thought process to understand why you’re making it. Ask yourself, which of your casino strategies are based on sound logic and tested odds, and which are based on superstitions and casino myths. It’s okay to be a little superstitious, but you must know when you’re betting based on superstition rather than sound technique. 

Randomise your decisions

Like a RNG, you can randomise your decisions in games to protect yourself from superstitions and fallacies. If the odds don’t change, basing your gaming decisions on something random like the time or a coin flip can simplify your decision making. In poker, randomising some decisions can make it even harder for other players to exploit you because you become just as unpredictable as the game itself. 

Play more skill-based games

Playing online slots is fun, but why not diversify your gaming? Perhaps the reason you’re vulnerable to this myth is that you want a game in which you are more in control of the outcomes. Maybe you’re looking for a game that rewards skill more than luck. If so, add games like poker and blackjack to your gaming portfolio. Games like these offer bets with differing odds, and they reward strategy and critical thinking. A smart blackjack strategy can even improve the house’s edge and increase your chances of winning. 

Play the best live table games and slots with The Phone Casino

Are you ready to see who will win, your superstitious beliefs or your logical brain? Put yourself to the test and register with The Phone Casino. When you create an account, we’ll give you 100 free spins to explore our exciting catalogue of mobile-friendly casino games. Whether you prefer roulette, Slingo, or immersive slots, you can play them anytime and anywhere on your mobile devices. 

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