Luck in gambling- is it real or just an illusion?

Luck is an Illusion
Luck is an Illusion

“Wow- I’m doing so well today- I should keep going now I’m on a lucky streak”

“I’m down today- I should keep going, my luck is sure to change eventually”

“I should have left yesterday when I was still lucky- if I’d left before my luck changed I could have come out ahead”

Have you ever caught yourself saying one of these things in your mind? It’s common that we think about luck when we look back on our gambling experiences, whether we gamble on poker machines, on sports, at the casino or on horses.

When we win a few bets, we begin to think that we’re “lucky”and that we should do the most to capitalise on that luck. We start to increase our bet size, place more bets, or make riskier decisions. This makes sense in other settings where a string of wins means that we’re getting better at the game we are playing.

However, it doesn’t work this way with gambling. A string of wins on a poker machine or on the roulette table doesn’t mean we’re getting better at the game- these are random games where there is no way of improving our performance. Luck in gambling is just an illusion.

A cluster of wins occurs by chance and not because we are lucky or doing anything to increase our probability of winning. Similarly, when we bet on sports, the outcome is determined by things outside of control- even if we are feeling “lucky” today, there’s no way that this luck can influence what will happen on a far-away race track or oval.

Subsequently, when we increase our bet sizes when we feel lucky, we are just increasing the likelihood that we will lose more money that day!

It works the other way round too. When we lose whilst gambling, or we’re feeling unlucky because of other things that have happened in our day, we feel that our luck must change soon, and that it’s a good idea to try our luck gambling. But is that right? A poker machine is just a machine, and it can’t tell that we might be feeling unlucky that day or are due for a change. Neither does a deck of cards, a ball in a roulette wheel, the horses running, and the athletes playing a sport know that we are unlucky that day and due for a change. Thus this belief in luck is really just a trick our mind plays that encourages us to keep gambling.

If you find that you get stuck in thoughts like this with your gambling, or you want to talk about other thoughts and feelings you have about gambling, you can always call Gambling Help on 1800 858 858 or go to Gambling Help for more information and support.

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