The Gambler’s Fallacy Explained

A gambler’s fallacy can actually be explained with the help of a very simple example. Let’s say that we came to you and told you that we could flip a coin 10 times and we can guarantee that we get heads all 10 times. We also allow you to check the coin that we’re going to flip to ensure it is genuine. What kind of odds would you give us. 100 – 1 or 1000 – 1? You could actually offer us with a 1000 – 1 odd and still expect to win. Now, what would you do if we get heads 8 times? Would you give us the same odds for the 9th and the 10th flip? What would you do if we get heads 9 times? Would you give us the same odds for the 10th flip? This would be a huge mistake and a grave error on your part. And this error is what constitutes the gambler’s fallacy.

The gambler’s fallacy explained

According to the gambler’s fallacy, previous trials are said to influence the odds for random events occurring. For example, when heads end up appearing 9 times out of nine, you would feel foolish to still offer the person tossing the coin with odds of 1000 – 1, even though it has no say on whether the person can still toss the coin and land with heads in the 10th time. Simply put, even though the person managed to get 9 heads at a stretch, the probability of heads appearing on the 10th flip is still 50-50. Remember, you might have a memory, but the coin definitely doesn’t have any memory.

How does this affect gambling

Gambler’s fallacy is considered to play a huge role in gambling. Those who gamble tend to search for patterns in order to offer themselves with an increased chance of winning the game. For example, if black comes up a number of times simultaneously in a game of roulette, players would most likely end up betting on red. Similarly, if a player loses a few spins in a game of roulette, he/ she might end up doubling the bet thinking that the odds of winning and making up for the losses could be better. In fact, the Martingale System makes players double their bet after every loss is living proof of gambler’s fallacy. If you look at if from a short term point of view, losses could end up occurring a number of times in a row, without changing the game in any way whatsoever. Gamblers blindly believing on this belief could end up having a serious problem.

You should understand that believing in gambler’s fallacy exists only for events that consider replacements, wherein the conditions are known to be the same for each and every trial. If you’re playing games like blackjack, certain cards are not replaced. Therefore, in these cases, prior events could have a major bearing on future events. This is considered to be the fundamental basis of card counting.