Lots of people visit Las Vegas during the holidays. If you must gamble, do it the SCIENTIFIC way. But is it possible to do this?

According to psychologists, the more people gamble, the more likely they are to mistakenly believe they can increase their chances at winning through some form of skill or luck, but it doesn’t work that way. Luck is not something scientific and when it comes to odds, they start all over again with every roll of the dice or tug of the lever on the slot machine. That means that your are NOT statistically more likely to win if you keep on gambling.

Psychologist Scott Wood found that the most common incorrect belief associated with gambling is that the player believes he possesses some sort of control due to special skills (when in fact most gambling games rely on random chance) or through some form of magical or superstitious influence.

“Gamblers often display what psychologists call ‘cognitive errors'” says Wood, who grew up near Las Vegas. “The first belief is an illusion of control. For example, they may believe that if they watch slots closely and see one lose over and over then the machine is ‘due’ for a payout. Or they may think that they have a particular skill in playing a particular casino game or another. Such beliefs are incorrect.”

A slot machine is programmed to pay out randomly. It has nothing to do with a gambler holds the handle or whether it paid out five times before the gambler sat down or lost 50 times in a row. Roulette wheels and dice don’t favor lucky numbers either, and a gambler can’t predict what number will come up next regardless of which came up last. There simply is no kind of skill or knowledge that helps you win a game of chance.

“The second cognitive error is superstition,” Wood says. “This is a belief that has do with how lucky you are. For example, if you have a good luck charm, such as a coin or favorite shirt, and believe it has any bearing on how the game plays out, that’s another cognitive error.” This is a superstition that many professional sportsmen, especially baseball players, have.

The more someone gambles, the more likely he or she is to display these cognitive errors. Casinos and gambling establishments are designed to take advantage of this. “At every casino, you’ll see winning numbers posted,” Wood says. “A gambler may think, ‘Low numbers are coming up a lot today. That’s a good play.’ Or the player may think it means that high numbers are coming due. Both are wrong. It’s all completely random.” State-run lotteries have taken a cue from this. Whenever a winning lotto ticket has been purchased in a certain store, the store is sure to post this information prominently by the cash register, even though this has absolutely nothing to do with whether or not YOU’LL be a winner.

Wood reminds us that, “The odds always favor the house. The more you play, the more likely you are to lose?and there is no skill, insight, or lucky charm that can change that.”

Art credit: http://www.freeimages.co.uk

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