# Using the gamblers fallacy as a weapon

What exactly is the “gamblers fallacy”? Well it is basically to do with the perception that individual events that are unrelated somehow have a relation to each other. An example could be if you spin a coin or a red number comes up on roulette or no number higher than 30 has come on the national lottery. If you toss a normal coin and it arrives heads or if you replicated that event five times and it came up heads five times then the result of toss number six would have no relation to the previous five tosses.

Neither would five red numbers arriving on roulette. This is not to be confused with say a football team losing five consecutive matches as this could be because of injuries, tactical mistakes made by the manager or just not being good enough. In short these may be reasons that have an actual impact on the results.

Where no such impact is possible then whatever sequence is observed must be purely randomness and nothing more. But yet it is amazing how distorted millions of punters views actually are with regards to probabilities. If you asked one individual who had just witnessed five reds on roulette to dictate the odds of red arriving on the next spin, a really stupid person may arrive at a conclusion of more or less than 50% depending on his view of the sequence.

A more educated sports bettor would know that it was still basically even money (taking into account the house edge for zero). But yet it would be amazing how many of these “educated” gamblers despite knowing that it is still even money, would then go and bet on black because of the distorted view that the averages need to balance up some time.

They still see it as an even money proposition but yet their views of probabilities and variance are severely limited. They expect this “averaging out process” to happen in the short term. In reality of course, it needs a huge sample size to even this process out. Let us say that you witnessed an amazing twenty consecutive blacks on roulette. You then estimate that although the next spin is still even money, it somehow needs to start correcting itself so that a 50/50 equilibrium is reached.

So you start backing red but you don’t make money and are stumped as to why. Firstly the run of twenty successive blacks could in itself be a correction to a sequence of reds that you have not seen. But even if we accept that the sequence of twenty blacks has led to a surplus of black numbers over red numbers by a figure of twenty, to even this process out takes millions of spins.

After 1000 spins we could have a result of 510 black numbers and 490 red numbers so the sequence of 20 consecutive black numbers has not levelled out during this time frame. But this does not mean that it will not level out, it merely means that the sample size is not big enough for the sequence to properly level out. Or you could have that 20 run sequence stretching to 40 by the time we had seen 1000 spins.

This would mean that there had still been more blacks than reds over the next 980 spins after having seen a long series of 20 consecutive blacks. It isn’t until the next 1000 spins or some series of numbers many thousands of spins down the line that this series gets corrected. I will look at how this relates to sports betting in part two of this series.