Happy Thanksgiving from GGB; Newsletter Returns December 4

Waiting for the Streak

Successful gamblers have good habits that stand them in good stead when they are on a winning streak, seemingly violating the laws of chance. Poor players’ habits also contribute to their losses, according to a study.

A new study appears to confirm the notion that a good playing can affect a “winning streak,” and a bad player can make a “losing streak,” worse.

The study, which might easily have been called the “Seven Habits of Highly Successful Gamblers,” but which the May 2014 edition of the science journal Cognition gives the much less sexy title, “Carry on winning: the gamblers’ fallacy creates hot hand effects in online gambling.” It was based on a study of online gaming of nearly 800 gamblers, who made 565,000 bets. It showed that once a player began winning that his chances of winning increased, while losing players experience the same effect, but in reverse.

Mathematics precludes such an effect, so the authors of the study conclude that better gamblers choose bets more likely to win and that losers do the opposite. Winners tend to gravitate towards the safer bets once they are on a winning streak, while losing players resort to ever more risky bets.