Whether you are of the belief that the gambler’s fallacy is no less misleading a notion than the infinite number of existing logical fallacies, or that the world of luck is somehow exempt from the 50/50 rule of chance, the fact remains: the gambler’s fallacy remains a thing of mystery – with fervent devotees passionately attempting to substantiate each chosen side of the particular argument.
It’s an interpretation that most of us are familiar with – one would hardly have had to spend more than one enjoyable evening around a Roulette wheel to have heard a conversation along the lines of, “red 21 just came up – it’s hardly likely that it will come up again during the very next spin!”
The question of luck, or chance, is one that has boggled many of the most ardent scientific and philosophical minds. Despite the fact that sound logic dictates that luck is purely a random thing, most people – regardless of nationality or general background – still appear to hold the unshakeable belief that luck is more than just mere chance; it is an invisible and powerful force that either works for you or against you, at any given time. This is most prominent when considering the various religions of the world. The controversial nature of religion aside, even men and women of science differ widely on the matter of luck. Some believe that everything is orchestrated and pre-determined; that the universe runs like a well-oiled machine, while others suppose that there is just no surmising about what may happen next or in the future.
The Gambler’s Fallacy Defined
The gambler’s fallacy has been defined as being the reasoning that, in a situation of pure chance, any particular outcome may be affected or influenced by previous outcomes in that same situation. The gambler’s fallacy manifests itself not only in a situation where the previous round in any game was a “perfect hit” (and therefore, according to most, not likely to be repeated immediately after), but also in a situation dubbed by psychologists as a “near miss”. An example of this would be when a slot machine comes progressively closer to a five-in-a-row winning result over the course of a number of spins. The first spin may render a result of two-in-a-row, the second yielding the slightly better result of three-in-a-row, and the third really turning on the excitement with a score of four out of five similar symbols in one row. The gambler’s fallacy dictates that the player will at this point become convinced that he or she is somehow “getting better at it”, having developed – quite illogically – a certain skill since the first spin. The casino real money gambler will in all probability up the ante at this point by playing at maximum bet – as the next spin is bound to turn up a jackpot result of five-in-a-row.
The Gambler’s Fallacy: Spot-On Or Debunked?
A large number of betting systems have been devised – the success rate of these being a relatively reliable indication of the predictability of a future event based on past events. Some swear by betting strategies believed to be tried and trusted, others remain sceptics.
Whether you base your playing decisions on luck or strategy, the secret seems to be to keep playing. The fun is after all in knowing that the next one may very well be the big one!