Casinos can be a lot of fun, but addicted gamblers always end up losing. The bright, flashing lights and the flashily-dressed staff make for a real spectacle, as do the various games, with their wheels, balls, cards and weirdly arcane rules (in the case of craps.) But what you should know is, the games the internet casino offers are almost always heavily stacked against you.
While it is possible to make money gambling at a casino, you certainly shouldn’t count on it. Luckily for the casinos, some gamblers do count on it – and some even think they have the winning method down, when all that method will get them is broke. It is the same situation at Internet Casinos, even your playing at the best addicted gamblers will always end up losing .
Most gambling systems and strategies are based on several basic errors in logic – errors that some of us commit every day, whether we’re gambling or not. If you’re planning a trip to Vegas, Tahoe or Atlantic City soon, be sure to keep these common fallacies in mind so you don’t fall prey to them.
“The ball’s hit black four times in a row, so it’s got to hit red next!” (The Gambler’s Fallacy)
You’re standing at a roulette table, watching the players make their bets. You observe two spins, and both times the ball lands on 23. You then decide to make a bet. Is it wise to bet on 23, considering it’s already come up twice in a row? Surely it’s extremely unlikely to come up three times in a row, so ignoring 23 might be a safe move, right?
An American roulette wheel is divided into 38 numbered slots: 18 of them red and 18 black, alternating every slot, plus two uncolored slots 0 and 00. Every time the croupier spins the wheel, the ball has a 1 in 38 chance of coming to rest in any one slot. This is the key: each number has exactly the same chance of being the winning number on each spin. The roulette ball doesn’t remember the number or color on which it landed on the last spin, or even on the last ten or one hundred spins. Since each spin is independent of the last, the odds of any three numbers coming up one after the other are 1/38 × 1/38 × 1/38 – including the outcome 23, 23, 23. Therefore, 23 would be just as good a bet as any other number.
The idea that a certain outcome is “due” is enticing, and almost seems logical – that is, until you begin to examine it more closely. As before, the color outcome of each spin is independent of the spin that came before it: you have an 18/38 chance of winning on black, no matter how many times in a row red previously came up. If those are the kinds of odds you like, go ahead and make that huge bet – but know that it’s not even close to a sure thing.
“I’ve already spent 400 dollars on this machine and I haven’t won once – I can’t let all that money go to waste!” (The Sunk Cost Fallacy)
You’re sitting at a quarter slot machine, inserting five quarters into the machine every spin to give you a shot at the jackpot. You’ve been playing for a couple of hours, and several times the reels have come incredibly close to lining up a winner. You’ve burned through a few hundred dollars and you’re starting to run out of money, but if you get up now, all that money you’ve dumped in this machine will have gone to waste, right? You can’t just walk away from that, at least not until you’ve made some of it back.
Falling for this kind of bad logic is a fantastic way of losing 100 percent of your money. The idea that the money we’ve already spent is somehow sunken into our game is completely false – that money is gone. The amount of money you’ve put into a slot machine has no bearing on the outcomes of successive spins. The odds are what the odds are.
Many of us, in fact, commit this fallacy every day. If you own an old clunker of a car that costs more to maintain than it cost to buy, you’re probably keeping it running out of a sense that you’ve “invested” too much money in the car to sell it off or trade it in. The Sunk Cost Fallacy is, at its core, a fallacy that plays on a basic human emotion – a feeling that all the money one has spent is not gone if it “contributes” to an eventual jackpot, or to a car that continues to run. Sadly, this kind of thinking almost always ends up costing us even more than we would have lost otherwise.
“This system I found guarantees that I’ll win at roulette/baccarat/[insert game of chance here]! I can’t lose!” (Betting systems)
This kind of thinking is driven by the belief that there is a surefire way to win at most casino games. These methods, or systems as they are called, are available to anyone (or in some cases, anyone who pays for them), and their proponents all claim that they will allow the player to beat the house advantage and consistently win.
This is complete and utter nonsense. Games that involve no skill whatsoever, like craps, Punto Banco baccarat, and roulette, are always statistically stacked against the player because of the way the casino has set them up. There is no particular way to win at any of these games, aside from sheer dumb luck or tampering with the cards or equipment involved. Be this as it may, many websites do claim to hold the one special secret of winning at craps or roulette. Because these games lack the element of skill, the systems involved are essentially betting systems. And none of them work.
The reason this system doesn’t work is that it’s entirely possible, and even probable after a long enough period of play, to suffer a long enough losing streak that you end up losing everything. Say you’re playing roulette, you bet on red twelve times, and the ball has landed on black all twelve times. You’re now out 1 + 2 + 4 + 8 + 16 + 32 + 64 + 128 + 256 + 512 + 1,024 + 2,048 dollars, which adds up to 4,095 dollars.
For most people, this is a pretty crushing loss and probably an unsustainable one. Since the Martingale system is designed for long-term play, as its profit margins are so small, it is almost inevitable that this sort of streak will occur. Yet people still use Martingale and various other systems, many of which are offered online. Some of the websites offering information on these “useful” betting systems are simply misguided, but those that offer to sell you a custom betting system sure to win are almost always outright scams.
Also, consider the fact that if any of these systems ended up working, the casinos would just as quickly make using them a ban-able offense. There is, in fact, one system that is proven to work: counting cards at blackjack. And anyone suspected of using this method to win is quickly hustled out of the casino and blacklisted forever after. The casinos certainly don’t mind players using betting systems, though – because the casinos know that none of them work. No matter what kind of bizarre or complicated rules a betting system requires you to use, at its core, it is based on the faulty assumptions of the Gambler’s Fallacy.