The gambler’s fallacy, also known as the fallacy of the maturity of chances or the Monte Carlo fallacy, is an incorrect but popular belief that, if something happens less frequently than normal during a particular duration, it will most likely happen more frequently in the future, or that if something happens more frequently than normal during a given duration, it will most likely happen less frequently in the future. This presumable predisposition of a balancing act in nature is mistaken because past events do not usually change the probability of certain events occurring in the future, even more if you are considering using a stat like that to do some sports betting.
Understanding the Gambler’s Fallacy
Considering the example of a coin toss, a series of 10 coin flips may all land with the “tails” side up. Under the Gambler’s Fallacy, a bettor may predict that the next coin flip is highly likely to end with “heads” side up as a balancing act. The reality, though, is that the probability of a fair coin flip is that heads and tails isn’t always 50-50 because each coin flip is an independent event, hence the previous coin flips don’t (and shouldn’t) have a bearing of what will happen in the future.
Gambler’s Fallacy in Betting
In betting, particularly sports betting, many punters tend to apply the notion of the Gambler’s Fallacy to mean that previous failures in a given event indicates an increased probability of success on subsequent attempts in that event. But as we’ve mentioned already, past events (like a series of heads in coin flips) doesn’t mean that we will get an opposite of the same (tails) in the future events.
The other variation of the gambler’s fallacy is a reversal where a gambler may decide that, after a consistent tendency towards tails in the series, more tails are more likely to be the result in future flips, probably out of some mystical preconception that fate favors more consistent results of tails. In reality, the truth is that the “universe” doesn’t sort of carry a memory of previous results which tend to favor or disfavor more tails in future outcomes.
As a crucial note, though, this fallacy should not be confused with proven handicapping methods that rely on the use of betting trends from solid statistics such as a team’s ability to score points or defend.