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Patterns Exist…But Do They Mean Anything?

A while back, I was at Trumps Taj Mahal in Atlantic City.  A fellow in a business-suit joined the table where I was playing.  He bought in for $100, and started with a $25 Pass Line bet, and never backed up his bet with Odds.  

I shot a 43-roll hand, and made six Pass Line winners.   A couple of other Precision-Shooters at the table shot nicely as well.  Even two random-rollers had very decent hands.  He increased his flat bet by $25 with each win.  On a loss, he would maintain the previous Pass Line amount as his next bet. 

Soon he had $450 on the Pass Line still without Odds, when it came my turn to shoot again.  This time the Point was 5, and I rolled a brutal rash of 6's, 8's, and 9's before finally repeating the "Winner-5".  I made two more Pass Line winners before 7-ing Out, and he increased each winning bet by that same $25.   He had over $4500 in front of him in his rack.

On the next shooter, he bet $550 and lost. Unfazed, he bet another $550, and he lost as the table started to clear out.  Resolute, he bet the same amount on the next shooter, and lost again. Mr. Business-Suit did this for five more shooters, and each time he lost the same amount.   This fellow had exactly $100 when he turned to leave, broke, muttering stuff about "this f#%king game!" 

"You were doing great," I said. "Why didn't you lock-up some of your profit?" 

He replied, "I saw the pattern and was positive it was due to continue.  When the three bets in a row went down, I figured it would turn around by the fourth or fifth shooter.  There was a pattern of eighteen winners interspersed with infrequent losses, and so I thought the pattern was only off by one or two shooters so I gave it several more tries. Something went wrong."

Gamblers frequently search for patterns in results of games. Then they try to play according to the trends they detect. Bettors may be reassured to realize it's possible to distinguish patterns in past outcomes. But they'll be disappointed to discover the patterns have no rhyme or reason.  If the dice are being thrown randomly, you don't have to know why the dice are doing what they are doing; it's in knowing what to do while this pattern is occurring!   While the pattern or trend may have no bearing on the future, determining when one pattern ends and the next trend starts, usually means the difference between great profits and dismal losses.

Because we find and utilize patterns to survive, the mind is always seeking and uncovering them.  We assemble mental pictures, even when the random signals we perceive as logic, don't really contain the correct information to form such a conclusion. This "Gestalt psychology" is how gamblers ponder swings in the action, and find hot and cold streaks in random series of wins and losses.

Craps players follow the same principle if they take down Place bets after the dice go off the table, or put more money on the Pass Line if a "natural" wins on the Come-Out roll. Such behavior is sometimes dismissed as superstition, but the superstition evolves from a firm conviction that the game follows a pattern.   Gambling is a universe of pure numbers, so the patterns that you see really are there.  

The big mistake occurs when you over-consider their significance, and then try to out-logic the dice.  Don't presume that a trend is going to continue unabated indefinitely.  I love to ride the wave of good fortune that the occasional random-roller unleashes.  I surf that wave, and enjoy the profit-ride while I continually lock-in ever-increasing amounts of money that I will not give back to the casino.  That way, when the wave peters-out, I'm on dry land, safely waiting for another trend to expose itself. 

In a lot of cases, after a "hot" hand, an opposite trend will soon develop.  If you try to stop it or bet against it, you're likely to drown in the dangerous waters of craps play, and your bloated corpse will probably get washed out to sea.  Thinking that chaos is a form of order waiting to be decoded, is a little like seeing what appears to be Richard Nixon's profile in a cloud, and then thinking that it proves that he got to heaven.  The cloud pattern is there, but does it mean anything?

Good Luck and Good Skill at the Tables…and in Life.

By: The Mad Professor

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