Luck in its purest form is absolutely random, entirely capricious, and maddeningly fickle. The very definition of the word indicates that you’re not supposed to know when and how it will affect you.
Short-termBasil Nestor is the author of the new Playboy Complete Guide to Casino Gambling. This wonderful book teaches players how to avoid sucker bets and win more when playing gambling games. He is also the author of The Smarter Bet Guide series for video poker, slots, craps, and many other books about gambling. Basil's website is www.smarterbet.com luck and long-term results are tied together in a mathematically sound system that often seems to be a Zen-like conundrum. This is how it works. Strictly speaking, none of us can ever reach the long term. It’s a mirage always receding in the distance. We live in the here and now.
In the short term, luck is swinging wildly back and forth like an unlatched door in a hurricane. All sorts of weird and seemingly unlikely things can happen in the short term. But luck must ultimately bend to the odds (because ten billion games will be played by someone eventually, even if we’re not around to play them). So luck becomes predictable in gradual stages as the number of trials increases. Another way to say it is that the overall effect of luck diminishes over time.
Where does the long term begin? Is it ten trials, one hundred trials, one thousand, one million? Nobody can definitively say. The journey there is like a sunrise. Everyone knows the difference between night and day, but the transition from one to the other is gradual and nobody can exactly pinpoint the moment when a definitive switch occurs.
But if you keep playing, you will reach the long term, as surely as the morning, even though you will still be playing in the short term.
That’s the Zen of gambling.
If you’re scratching your head, take heart. Mathematicians and scientists have to deal with these bizarre yin-yang truths every day (indeed, quantum mechanics vs. relativity was always a problem for Einstein).
In any case, you will reach the long term. So you might as well plan for it now.
Casino Probability Essentials
Positive-expectation games are long-term money earners for the person (or entity) playing the positive side. The opposite side of the game has a negative expectation. People who bet the negative side will be long-term net losers.
Positive expectation is typically referred to as an edge, and it’s measured as a percent of the wager. A larger edge is synonymous with having a bigger advantage. The casino’s advantage is called the house edge.
Optimal strategy can reduce and in some cases eliminate the house edge.
Having the edge doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll win the next bet, or even the majority of the next few bets. But it does guarantee that you have an advantage every time you play the game.
Past results do not affect the current contest except in circumstances when there has been an actual physical change in the game. Inanimate objects are not sentient. They do not remember previous contests.
Nobody can say definitively when the “long term” begins. Nevertheless, the effects of luck inevitably diminish as the number of trials increase.
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