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The Gambler's Fallacy and Other Betting Superstitions - Do They Have Any Inherent Value?

by ReadyBetGo Editor

Superstitions, fallacies, old wives tales, myths - whatever you like to call them, we're all well aware of at least a few of the more lighthearted superstitions out there and their implications. However,ReadyBetGo EditorThere are occasions when we here at ReadyBetGo want to bring you interesting facts about the gambling industry  When something catches our eye, we will publish it for your enjoyment.  when it comes to a wholehearted and honest belief in superstitions having any sort of real impact our modern day lives, the stats suggest that the large majority of us simply don't buy it. A survey conducted in 2014, for example, revealed that 88% of Americans do not believe that 13 is an unlucky number, with a further 86% refusing to buy into the fact that breaking a mirror will land you with the customary seven years of bad luck. While most of us will probably agree that superstitions are nothing more than a bit of silly fun and something your grandma used to warn you about at family get-togethers, there is evidence to show that in terms of gambling, superstitions can increase your confidence, which in turn, can lead to more level-headedness and better decision making.

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The Gambler's Fallacy

On the surface, the concept behind gambler's fallacy seems sound enough - this involves the notion that because a specific event hasn't occurred for a determined amount of time, it is "overdue" and is, therefore, more likely to occur due to the previous set of events. However, this falsely assumes that each outcome in a game of chance is connected to other events and this is simply an inaccurate understanding of the concept of probability. There are a number of books available on online outlets such as eBay which have been specifically written on the merits and pitfalls of the gambler's fallacy, including "Many Faces of the Gambler's Fallacy - Subjective Randomness and Its Diverse Manifestations'.

The book considers the tossing of a coin ten times and goes on to explain that many punters would wrongly believe that if the first nine tosses landed on tails, there would more chance of the final outcome being a heads. As explained by the book, it is simply not the case, as every single flip of the coin has a 50/50 chance of landing on either heads or tails and this doesn't change due to the outcomes of previous tosses. Being aware of this mistaken belief can certainly help you to keep a level head, especially in a run of bad luck when you realize that the cards or numbers being thrown in your direction are simply a result of chance and that these outcomes will have no bearing on future plays.

Other Gambling Superstitions

A UK survey conducted back in 2005 polled 412 bingo players and found that 4% reported having a lucky friend, while 29% believed that changing to a lucky dobber (or bingo marker pen to me and you) was a good strategy to use when trying to reverse a streak. Furthermore, 13% admitted to believing in lucky and unlucky numbers and a similar study conducted by Betway recently revealed that 25% of the UK residents surveyed in the poll regarded the number 7 as their luckiest number.

In years gone by, the main entrance of the MGM Grand hotel in Las Vegas involved players entering through the mouth of a giant MGM lion statue. Many players, including a large number of Chinese punters flat out refused to enter the casino in this way, claiming that it was too akin to being eaten alive. Thankfully, the entrance was replaced in 1998 and superstitious gamblers no longer had to scurry around the building in search for a side door entrance but this goes some way to demonstrating the lengths some will go in order to maintain what they believe is good luck.

It's also fairly common for someone to make a note of what they were wearing, what they ate for lunch or their morning routine after a particularly good gambling session. Of course, the fact that you were wearing your favorite Nike trainers or your trusty Superman socks had absolutely no bearing on the roll of the dice or the failures of your opponents in a game of poker. Nevertheless, an honest belief in superstitions such as these has been shown to enhance your confidence and lead to a more lucid state of mind.

The Science Behind Superstition Is Pretty Clear

It has been demonstrated time and time again that superstitions can indeed improve performance owing to the added self-confidence that they give to an individual. Researchers from the University of Cologne recently designed four experiments and recruited over 151 students in order to test how their belief in luck would impact on their ability to play golf.

The study found that students who believed they were playing with a "lucky ball" were far more accurate when it came to hitting their targets than those who were simply told that they were playing with the same golf ball as all the other students. Donald Saucier, who is professor of psychological sciences at Kansas State University has also weighed in on the debate, stating that "We can now believe that we can influence events, whether or not we actually can." Ergo, superstitious beliefs provide meaningful and positive psychological benefits because, in uncertain situations, they help facilitate the illusion of control.

So...Is It Okay to be Superstitious in the Gambling Arena?

Not only is it okay to be superstitious in most gambling-related situations, it's also been shown to be beneficial. Of course, it really does depend on how far you take your beliefs and if they are becoming obstructive or having a negative effect on your ability to simply take part in a game of blackjack, for example, then it's probably time to take a step back and re-evaluate your beliefs. However, superstitions can certainly increase confidence up to a point and make you feel like you're in control of your own destiny, even if you're not. Most film buffs out there will know Neo best explained this concept in the first film of the Matrix trilogy. When asked by Morpheus why he doesn't believe in fate, Neo simply replies, 'Because I don't like the idea that I'm not in control of my own life". Precisely.

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