Avoiding Myths, Magic and Other Superstitions

Perhaps the biggest mistake for novice gamblers is making a betting decision based on superstitions or instincts rather than facts. I can assure you that poker superstars such as Howard Lederer and Phil Hellmuth do not win because they wear their lucky sweater or rely on horoscope readings.

Winners like Lederer and Hellmuth are brilliant in analyzing the complex choices each hand offers in a high-stakes tournament. This section debunks
some common hocus-pocus that gamblers mistakenly turn to.

Going with your hunches
Using your intuition, going by your gut, and playing a hunch are all paths to ruin. If the odds favor the house by more than 9 percent like they do on a hard eight bet at the craps table, then that’s the rate you lose over time. Sure, you may get lucky and win in the short run, but casinos are geared to outlast you. (The only way to leave a winner on a lousy-odds game is to immediately stop playing if you’re up.) They have a huge bankroll, and when they have the edge, not even the luckiest person on the planet or even Olga, the All-Knowing Psychic) can turn the tables and beat the odds.

Instead of relying on your hunches, you’re better off diverting that psychic energy to studying the laws of probability and choosing games that offer the lowest house edge.

Playing a lucky machine
Many people have a favorite slot machine they like to play. That’s reasonable. After all, gambling at a familiar game is better than taking a chance with one
you know nothing about. However, many players return to the same game because they believe they have found a lucky machine.
If you’re relying on a lucky machine and think you’re consistently winning, I urge you to keep records of your play. Write down how much money you start with before you sit down, and then count up what you have when you walk away from the machine. You may be surprised to see that you didn’t perform quite as well as you thought, especially over the long term. Selective memory plays tricks and deceives gamblers into thinking they’re ahead, which is seldom the case.