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The Folly That is Gambler's Fallacy

If you flipped a coin nine times and all nine of them came up tails, will it be more likely for the next flip to come up with tails too?

Or will the coin be more likely to come up with a head since it has been turning up tails for too long?

If you said yes to either of the two questions above, then you have just been guilty of believing in the gambler's fallacy, a wrong belief that is very much widespread in the world of gambling.

Gambler's fallacy is the wrong belief that the probability of a certain event can be shaped or influenced by other past events. The fallacy most probably got its term from gambling activities and from devout gamblers who are the avid believers of it.

You can't blame them; the fallacy is an irresistible logic to ignore especially in the world of gambling where luck rules. Gamblers are the ones more likely to adhere in the gambler's fallacy because believing in it gives the perception that future outcomes can be predicted by observing previous ones.

So why is gambler's fallacy fallacious?

Let's get back to the example at the beginning.

You are guilty of the fallacy if you answered yes to the first question because you are assuming a connection between the previous flips and the flip that you will be doing. The preceding flips and the flips you will be doing are independent of each other. In fact, all flips are independent of one another may they be made in the past or in the future.

The same is true if you said yes in the second question. The only difference is that you are guilty of a reverse gambler's fallacy wherein you assumed that an outcome is less likely to happen just because it has happened continually for a long period.

So the bottom line of this fallacy: coins do not have memories so do not expect them to flip accordingly. Same goes for other gambling implements such as roulette wheels, dice and in some degree, cards.

Now discarding this gambler's fallacy is imperative especially when one is engaged in gambling pursuits. Belief in the gambler's fallacy assures nothing but the profit of the casino. Unfortunately, believers in it are the ones who bet it big time when they are gambling and anticipating an outcome based on the fallacy.

Bear in mind and keep in your heart all that is written here about gambler's fallacy as it is the worst habit any gambler can get. If there is a reason why this fallacy is called as such (a gambler's), there is also reason, a more important one in fact, why this is called a fallacy. It is a fallacy because that's what it is - an erroneous belief that has fooled most of us and in the case of gambling enthusiasts, a dangerous one also as it has led not a few gamblers to bankruptcy.

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