Feb 19, 2024

Gambler’s Fallacy: a cognitive bias that doesn’t involve only gambling, but our everyday lives

The Monte Carlo fallacy or gambler’s fallacy is a cognitive bias that is largely relevant to all facets of people’s lives, not just the gambling decisions and actions. Although it has originated from gambling (hence the name!), we can safely say that it now involves so many other professions, routines and every-day decision making that is not particularly tied or associated with any kind of gambling activity. 

Imagine having in front of you an unbiased coin and you decide to toss it for fifteen consecutive times. If you have reached the twelfth toss, let’s say, and it’s only heads coming up, then you will most probably be tempted to think that the next toss will most likely bring tails. That’s a flawed, mistaken and biased perception. Every toss is an independent trial and the odds of heads or tails coming up are absolutely independent from the previous events. The thirteenth toss has the same chances of bringing heads and tails, despite the fact that it seems more ‘probable’ to you that it’s time for tails to turn up. 

Now, take this kind of thinking to the gambling context. Imagine you are a customer of one of the Czech casino sites and you decide to play the roulette. You observe that for the past many times, the red color comes up, making every user, betting on the ball to land on it, happy. 

You can’t help but start to believe that it’s about time that the black comes up as well. If for a bit more the red is winning, then you start to think that it’s definitely the time for the black. You do so, because you base your belief over what will happen in the following spinon what has happened in the past few spins. In other words, you see some kind of predictive ability resting in the occurrence of events piling up to now, because you think that there is some kind of pattern there. 

The truth, yet remains that none of this is correct. Every spin is a new trial and so red and black have equal chances of getting the roulette ball. Ignoring this reality – that each spin is not dependent on the previous ones – you decide to bet on the black, expecting to win because the pattern “says so”. If you are lucky, you’ll get to win, but chances are the same for both colors. This means that you might lose as well. 

Eventually at some point, black is gonna win. But this will have nothing to do with the exact time that you might have predicted it to do, because of the pattern that you have falsely observed. 

Similarly, consider subscribing, for example, to one of the best online casinos or Sazkovekancelare in the Czech Republic, in order to play Black Jack. You do so, and after you being on a losing streak for quite some time, you develop the assumption that the time for you to win has come. Confident that since you have been losing up to now, you will definitely get to win, you keep on betting and betting, up until either you eventually win at some point or you go bankrupt. The flawed perception here is not that you would at sometime win. It is that you would win just because you were having a streak in losing

Such a cognitive bias can be quite risky in people’s everyday lives and not only in their gambling habits. Everywhere there is the element of chance, people get to make decisions which can lead to poor results and undesirable outcomes, if they are informed by poor or flawed assumptions. 

If any decision about a situation that has an inherent element of chance, is made on the basis of this fallacy then it is probably deemed to be ineffective. So, the next time you are tempted to think that something is going to happen, simply because it hasn’t happened for a long time, think twice and remember the gambler’s fallacy. And don’t fall into the trap of making your decision on the basis of this fallacy.

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