Beating the Odds
Though the gambler may feel he is ‘destined to win,’ the fact is that a gambler is almost certain to be a loser! The reason? Simple mathematics. Flip a coin ten times, and how often does it come up heads or tails? Intuition may say it should be five and five. Try it. It rarely comes out that way. You see, the so-called law of averages works only with large numbers. In other words, toss a coin an infinite number of times and, yes, it will come out heads and tails equally. But over the short run, any combination could appear. Thus, there’s really no telling how any specific toss will come out.
The gambler refuses to accept this. If a coin has come out heads eight times in a row, he may believe with almost religious fervor that it just has to come out tails on the next toss. And he’ll bet away a fortune on that conviction. In reality, the coin has no memory of its past performance. The odds on each toss are still fifty-fifty!
How futile it is, then, to attempt to predict with accuracy what will happen in a more complicated game such as blackjack or roulette! The odds against winning consistently are simply astronomical. This is true even in sports such as horse racing or football on which bets are based on the skill of the contestants. “Time and unforeseen occurrence” simply wreaks havoc with predictions. (Ecclesiastes 9:11) Nor is it usually possible to beat the odds with a “system.” In Italy more than half of those participating in football pools try this by purchasing several coupons at the same time. However, the only sure system in this kind of game would be to send in every possible result for each game. Sure, you’d win. But the amount spent would not be recouped by the amount won.
The only ones who win in gambling are gambling promoters. Casino owners simply adjust the odds in any given game so that the casino almost always comes out ahead. In Italian football pools, reportedly a mere 35 percent of the total amount staked is paid out as prize money. The ones running the pools keep the rest.
Therefore, people who say, ‘But I’m lucky’ or, ‘I’ve been unlucky so far, but I’m sure I’ll start winning from now on’ are simply fooling themselves. Gambling is an exercise in futility. And while the media give great publicity to the ever so few winners, you rarely hear about the millions of losers.