What is the Gambler’s Fallacy?

The gambler’s fallacy is a popular term in the gambling world and refers to the mistaken belief but if something happens very often during a specific time it will happen less so in the future. The phenomenon can also work in reverse with people believing that if something happens less during a specified time period it will happen more in the future. While the policy can appear in other areas of life it is most common and became popularized through gambling.

Gambler’s fallacy is also known as the Monte Carlo fallacy. It gained this humerus name during a game of Roulette at the Monte Carlo casino in 1913. It has been said that the black ball fell into the black compartement 26 consecutive times. It is thought that the probability of this is around 1 in 136 million. Gamblers have lost millions of pounds believing that the because the ball had landed in Black on so many previous consecutive occasions that it must land on red in the future, or the next time, and so continued betting higher and higher stakes on this premise.

The fallacy can also work in the opposite direction and this is called the reverse fallacy. For example, players might believe that because the ball landed in black so many times they have no reason to believe that this would change anytime soon. Probability tells us that each roll a die or each time I pulled out of the pack it has the same chance no matter what the previous circumstances were.

Despite it being a scientific impossibility but the gambler’s fallacy is a real thing, any people still choose to believe in the phenomenon to dictate their gambling habits. In fact, many people also believe in it retrospectively if something has happened multiple times during earlier events that subsequent events must deliver the opposite result. It is thought that the belief in the fallacy comes from the principle of small numbers whereby people believe that the events occurring in their life must represent those which are happening on a larger scale, when in fact the opposite is true.