Luck Versus Skill
Every game of chance involves a certain amount of luck. In blackjack, for example, “the luck of the draw” influences your playing strategy; you can't control which cards you're dealt, but you play the hand differently if you hold a 5 and a 3 than you would if you held a 10 and a 9. On the other hand, some games involve no player skill at all. You can't influence the outcome of a spin of the roulette wheel or the numbers that come up in a keno race. All you can do is place your bet beforehand and wait for the result. Understanding the difference between these two types of games automatically puts you a step or two ahead of many gamblers.
Don't think of your winnings as “the casino's money.” Once you've won it, it's yours, and you should treat it the same way you treat your original bankroll. If you think of your winnings as your own money, it's easier to stick with your predetermined budget — and easier to go home a winner.
The Gambler's Fallacy
“The gambler's fallacy” is the notion that something is more likely to happen if it hasn't happened for a long time. Roulette players who subscribe to this idea will play red, for example, on the grounds that black has come up on the last seven spins and therefore red is “due” to come up. Likewise, craps players will bet on 12 thinking that every roll brings that number closer to appearing if it hasn't shown up all evening.
This is a fallacy, because in true games of chance like roulette, craps, keno, and bingo, the outcome of one round bears no relationship to the outcome of the next round. Each spin of the roulette wheel and each throw of the craps dice is an independent event, not influenced by anything that came before. Occasionally, you may encounter patterns, runs, or streaks in games of chance, but they are just as random as the game itself. The wise gambler recognizes this and bases his bets on his knowledge of the game and the odds, not on any misleading “pattern” in the play.
Winning and Losing Streaks
Even when you play the best strategy and make the most advantageous bets, you'll run into occasional streaks. Winning streaks are terrific, but they are bound to end sooner or later; that's the way the luck element works. Many players fail to recognize when a winning streak is beginning to fizzle, and they end up handing back everything they've won — and even then some — and go home losers after all. The flip side is when a player continues to fight against a losing streak, determined to “win it all back.”
Winning players have the knowledge, confidence, and discipline to realize that streaks occasionally happen. They take advantage of winning streaks, but they have the self-control to quit when they meet their win goals, or when they begin to lose. And they have the patience to ride out losing streaks by adhering to their predetermined budgets.