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Author: leehjones Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: of 1443  
Subject: Gambling and Psychology Date: 7/18/2000 6:50 PM
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Rick wrote:

<<The beauty of craps is that you can load up your bet with odds or on the numbers whenever a streak starts. If you have to wait for a streak at $10/roll, it's expensive, much less so at $1/roll. >>

I'm always fascinated by the psychological reaction that people have to gambling - games of chance. Some authors (including the recently departed David Spanier) have written extensively on this subject, and it's quite interesting.

Anyway, folklore of every culture seems to contain myths about gambling. And it's really a religious thing for some people - it seems that there are those of us who believe in what the probability and stats books claim, and those who believe there's something deeper going on.

Just so you know, I am in the former camp. I believe that decks of cards, dice, roulette wheels, and slot machines have no memory. Given that this is true, I present here a list of (what I claim to be) myths about gambling. I'm not really interested in arguging about them, because over the years, I've learned that it is closer to religion for many folks. I'd no sooner try to convert a Baptist to Judaism or vice versa. So...

Myth: You can predict streaks of cards, dice, roulette wheels, etc. Rick, above, says that you load up your bets when a craps streak starts.

My Belief: Streaks happen, but only in the rear-view mirror. That is, if you look at what happened at a craps table, you can see obvious hot and cold streaks, but that doesn't tell you a single thing about what will happen on the next throw of the dice. Therefore, there's no way to know when to load up your bets.

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Myth: There are hot and cold slot machines

My Belief: Same as above. The slot machine is goverend (generally) by a little silicon chip that generates a random number and that causes cards, or fruit, or whatever to appear. The little chip is carefully programmed to produce on *average* a certain house edge. The exact value of the random number generator at the exact millisecond you press the button (or pull the handle) decides if you're going to lose $3 or be rolling in money for the rest of your life. What the machine did the millisecond, day, or year before doesn't matter.

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Myth: Bad players at the blackjack table hurt you.

My Belief: It doesn't matter. By hitting when they shouldn't, or standing when they shouldn't, they do change the card that you get. But unless you know the value of the top card, it doesn't affect you. "Your card" they take from you might be exactly the card you *don't* want. It might be just the one you need. On the whole, it doesn't make a bit of difference.

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Myth: The seat you choose in a poker game changes your luck. Or the deck of cards

My Belief: Sure, changing the deck of cards, or changing your seat will change the specific cards you get. They may get better, they may get worse. On average, in the long run, it doesn't make a bit of difference. Furthermore, you have no way of predicting what the short-term effect of (for instance) changing your seat will be. There are other factors involving seat selection at a poker table, but getting better cards is not one of them.

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Myth: If a roulette ball hits red ten times in a row, it is more/less likely to hit red on the next spin.

My Belief: If the table is properly balanced, the ball has no preference for red or black. It still has the same chance of red (18/38 in American casinos) as it does of black (18/38).

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Other people are welcome to discuss and argue these points. I'm happy in the camp I'm in, and don't hold out much hope for moving anybody from the other camp into mine. So, I'll go start a new thread about something that might create more light than heat. See you elsewhere.

Regards, Lee
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