Researchers have been performing studies on problem gambling for years. Their hope is to find out what causes certain players to gamble too much and help solve the dilemma.
A recent study from the University of British Columbia’s Centre for Gambling Research has added another piece to the puzzle. They’ve discovered that problem gamblers are obsessed with trend betting.
What is trend betting, and why is it so harmful to gambling addicts? You can find out the reason below and see more about this groundbreaking study.
Findings From the Study
The UBC Centre for Gambling Research sought to learn why problem gamblers continue to bet even when they’re losing badly.
Their study involved 83 participants, including 48 with a gambling problem and 35 in the control group. Both groups used a computer program where they chose between two lotteries.
One lottery featured a smaller jackpot but larger odds of winning. The other offered a bigger jackpot but smaller odds of winning.
Eve Limbrick-Oldfield, who led the study, said that only the control group paid close attention to the available info.
“We found control participants paid attention to both the prize size and chances of winning when choosing between the lotteries, but the individuals with gambling disorders were more likely to ignore that information,” he explained.
“Instead, they relied on whether they won or lost in the last gamble to make a decision (a.k.a. trend betting). The finding can be easily translated into real-world gambling situations.
For example, someone using a slot machine that hasn’t paid out in a while can believe that the machine is somehow ‘due’ a win.”
Oldfield and his team aren’t sure if problem gamblers make poor decisions due to prolonged gambling or if something else is involved.
Their goal is to create algorithms that can potentially identify problem players beforehand. Gaming establishments could then use these algorithms to limit problem gamblers.
What Is Trend Betting?
Many players like to consider recent results when determining their strategies. They use these trends to figure out what to bet on and how much to risk.
This strategy is what’s referred to as “trend betting.” Any gambler who subscribes to this concept can either go with or against trends.
Here’s example of each scenario:
Going With the Trend
- You’re playing roulette.
- You see that “odd” (odd/even) wins three times in a row.
- You triple your normal bet on odd in expectation that it will keep winning.
Going Against the Trend
- You’re playing roulette.
- You see that “odd” wins three times in a row.
- You triple your normal bet on “even” in expectation that odd will finally lose.
The logic behind trend betting is that certain trends will continue based on the past results. Many gamblers especially like wagering on the opposite side of a hot streak (second example).
With even money bets, each side wins approximately half of the time. If one side keeps winning, though, then it only seems logical that the other side is due for a win.
In baccarat, the banker hand wins 50.68% of the time (not counting ties). Meanwhile, the player hand wins 49.32% of the time. If the player side is on a three-hand winning streak, then it seems like the banker must win sooner or later.
However, this logic doesn’t always play out at the gambling tables. With that said, trend bettors fall into a trap that’s known as the gambler’s fallacy.
Why the Gambler’s Fallacy Is a Fallacy
The gambler’s fallacy is a coined term because so many people believe in it. Countless players think that they’ll win more money by wagering on trends.
The reason why trend betting is a fallacy, though, is that it ultimately doesn’t improve your chances of winning.
When concerning fixed-odds casino games, past outcomes don’t dictate future results. The odds stay the same no matter what has occurred in the past.
Again, it seems logical to assume that a trend will reverse if one side keeps winning again and again. But the odds still remain the same on the following bet.
Here’s an example to illustrate this point:
- You’re playing online baccarat.
- The banker hand wins five times in a row.
- You now believe that the player hand has a better chance of winning.
- However, the player hand’s probability (49.32%) doesn’t change just because the banker hand is on a roll.
In skill-based forms of gambling like esports betting, sports betting, and poker (e.g. Texas Hold’em), past results can provide important information.
If you see a Hold’em opponent constantly raising with weak hands on the flop, for example, then you know that they’re just trying to steal the pot. However, Hold’em isn’t a fixed-odds game.
You can’t apply the same rationale to casino games. The latter’s odds don’t change based on what has previously occurred.
You should never raise your bets or keep playing longer just because you see trends happening. Relying on these trends figures to drain more of your bankroll.
Tips for Conquering the Gambler’s Fallacy
You can take a big step towards avoiding trend betting just by knowing that it doesn’t work. Here are other tips for making sure that you don’t fall for the gamblers fallacy.
Understand That the Odds Don’t Change
Trend gambling relies on the theory that previous results will somehow have an impact on the future. It promotes the idea of wagering with or against a trend. Once again, though, the probabilities behind fixed-odds casino games don’t change.
If black (red/black) has a 48.65% chance of winning in European Roulette, then it will always feature the same probability no matter what. Red could win 30 times in a row and the odds won’t change.
Set Up a Bankroll Management Plan
When you walk into a casino, the hope is that you’ll have lots of success and win serious money. But you should always be prepared for the chance that things don’t go your way.
Bankroll management helps you make these preparations. It involves setting up a pre-defined plan on how to handle gambling funds.
Here’s an example on managing a bankroll:
- You go over your finances and determine that you have $300 available for betting purposes.
- You want to place $5 wagers.
- 300 / 60 = 60 betting units
Determine a Stop Loss Limit
After setting up your bankroll, you can go further by defining a stop-loss limit. The latter is a point that determines when you’ll quit gambling sessions based on losses. It helps you avoid spiraling out of control and blowing too much money in a single night.
When setting a stop-loss limit, you should consider how many sessions you want your bankroll to last. Here’s an example on doing so:
- You have 60 betting units.
- You want your bankroll to stretch at least four sessions.
- 60 / 4 = 15
- You’ll quit any session where you lose 15 units.
Try Different Betting Systems
While trend betting doesn’t work, plenty of other gambling systems are available. Two examples include the Paroli and Labouchere.
The Paroli sees you double wagers after wins. It’s designed to capitalize on hot streaks and delivers bigger winnings.
You continue doubling bets following wins until you get three consecutive wins. At this point, you go back to the original stake and start over. If you lose before three straight wins, then you’ll also return to the original bet.
Here’s an example on using the Paroli:
- You win a $5 bet.
- You lose a $10 bet.
- You win a $5 bet.
- You win a $10 bet.
- You win a $20 bet.
- Return to the $5 wager.
The Labouchere is more detailed than the Paroli. It revolves around creating a number sequence and betting until completing it.
The sequence should add up to your desired profit. As for the numbers, they can either represent betting units or actual dollars.
You use the Labouchere by adding the first and last number of the sequence. In the event of a win, you cross both numbers off. In the case of a loss, you add the losing wager to the number string’s end.
Here’s an example on using the Labouchere:
- You create the following sequence: 2, 3, 2, 4, 3
- You win your first bet of 5 units (2 + 3)—new sequence is 3, 2, 4.
- You win your next bet of 7 units (3 + 4)—new sequence is 2.
- You lose your next bet of 2 units—new sequence is 2, 2.
- You win your next bet of 4 units (2 + 2)—total profit of 14 units.
- Create a new number sequence or quit playing.
Realize That Betting Systems Don’t Overcome the House Edge
No shortage of betting strategies exist. Just know, though, that none of these systems are proven to beat the house advantage.
European Roulette, for example, features a 2.70% house edge. Even when using the Paroli on this game, you’ll still be looking at a 2.70% house advantage.
Staking systems allow you to better capitalize on hot streaks. However, they’re not foolproof strategies that result in guaranteed winnings.
As the UBC’s study shows, trend betting doesn’t work and can even harm problem gamblers. Provided you see through the gambler’s fallacy, though, then you shouldn’t fall for this trick.
If you want to use a staking strategy, then plenty of legitimate betting systems exist. The Paroli and Labouchere are two such balanced strategies.
The key when using any type of system is to do so for entertainment. You should never go into a session expecting big winnings just because you’re using a betting system.
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