Casinos and casino games, including Roulette, are the focus of much controversy, superstition and many lingering myths, some of which have endured since the early days of gambling.
One subject that never fails to spark heated debate among Roulette players is the so called gambler’s fallacy and reverse gambler’s fallacy, which are perhaps such a hot topic because many believe in one or the other, unaware that mathematics and science are opposed to both.
What is gamblers fallacy and reverse gamblers fallacy? The story goes like this; ask a player at a Roulette wheel if they are more or less likely to bet on a specific number, say 21, assuming that the number has just been landed on the wheel. Gambler’s fallacy says if 21 has been landed now, it is less likely to appear for a while, so some players will say they are now avoid betting on 21 for a few rounds.
Reverse gambler’s fallacy says that if 21 has just been landed, it is now more likely to be landed again, and some players may gravitate to that number for a few rounds, or the numbers adjacent to it. Of course, anyone who knows anything about such situations based on mathematics is aware that both these assumptions are completely inaccurate. 21 is not more or less likely to come up, regardless of which numbers are being landed at this exact moment. The odds are always exactly the same. Or are they?
Mathematics and science is firm on the topic; the odds are always exactly the same. A Roulette ball does not have a memory, nor does a Roulette wheel. How could the results be anything but completely random with each individual spin of the wheel?
This conclusion seems logical when one thinks about it, but there is a twist in the story. During studies over great lengths of time, distinct patterns have emerged in how Roulette wheels tend to behave. Some numbers seem to occur more frequently then others, enough that it appears the wheel almost seems to favour those numbers over all the others.
How is this bizarre pattern possible? First, keep in mind that this pattern is only discovered with repeated tests over long periods of time, weeks or even months, so a person observing the wheel over an evening will likely never notice a pattern.
Second, the anomaly is most likely caused by imperfections in the Roulette wheel itself, not due to any mathematical or scientific principal. Roulette wheels are mass-produced, and the machines that create them tend to develop imperfections over time. These imperfections tend to influence how the ball rolls, and hence create patters where certain numbers are favoured. These imperfections are so small that they go unnoticed by the eye, and attempting to base a strategy around it would likely require observing the wheel endlessly for months.
Virtual Roulette Wheels
One of the reasons that virtual recreations of Roulette wheels are heavily criticised is that they do not, and never will get, any imperfections of any kind. An online Roulette wheel is a random number generator dressed up to look like a wheel, and will never be anything but one hundred per cent random.
This may seem like a triumph to some, being that all unwanted influences are removed, but many argue that it is killing the very soul of Roulette. The physical imperfections of a real world Roulette wheel are what gave the game real statistical spirit, they say, and removing these elements is akin to removing its soul. A little superstitious, perhaps? But if one can take anything away from this its that gambler’s fallacy and reverse gambler’s fallacy are exactly what they are called; fallacies.