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Chasing Losses

What is 'Chasing Losses'?

Chasing losses is a term in gambling, particularly roulette, for the situation where players will make losses in a game and then increase their bets in an attempt to recoup them. Generally considered to be poor play, the psychological determination to recover losses can often end up trapping gamblers in a cycle of losses where they will lose amounts significantly higher than their original losses.

'Chasing Losses' Explained

Although chasing losses is considered to be poor play, it has been advocated by some gamblers over the years. Perhaps the most famous of these is the Martingale System. If a player were to bet on black or red and lose, the Martingale System advocates betting on the same colour again and doubling the player's bet, ad infinitum, thereby ensuring the player eventually won. However, the exponential increases in bet size introduce the possibility of a catastrophic loss for the player - although it is likely to succeed if the player has a very large amount of money, it is still mathematically disadvantageous to the player as there is a slim possibility that a streak of losses will bankrupt the player.In general, chasing losses can be considered a psychological trap that many people fall into - since players do not like to lose money, they will want to keep playing and gambling in an attempt to win. A large part of this is known as 'gambler's fallacy' - the idea that, for example, a roulette wheel which has landed on black four times in a row is more likely to land on red on the next spin. This encourages many players to keep betting, believing themselves more likely to win since they have just lost money, often leading them into a cycle of losses from which they cannot recover.