What is the ‘Inverse Gambler’s Fallacy’?
The Inverse Gambler’s Fallacy goes right to the heart of the thinking behind gambling. Put simply, it’s a misunderstanding of the probability rules behind games of chance, which if believed would undoubtedly put a gamer at a disadvantage.
To summarise, the Inverse Gambler’s Fallacy is the mistaken belief that an unlikely outcome in a game of chance must have come about because the game had been played many times before.
A specific example would be a person witnessing somebody win at a game of craps and assuming that this victory meant the player had already played many rounds of the game.
The ‘Inverse Gambler’s Fallacy’ Explained
To understand the Inverse Gambler’s Fallacy you need to understand the Gambler’s Fallacy. The Gambler’s Fallacy is basically the belief that a random or chance process becomes less random and more predictable the more times it is repeated. If you’ve ever played a game of craps with a player who believes that their ‘numbers must come up soon’, they have fallen for the gambler’s fallacy. Similarly, a person who plays the lottery every week with the name numbers because they believe their numbers are likely to come up eventually has fallen for the gambler’s fallacy. The odds of winning most national lotteries is around 100,000,000 to one. Those odds remain the same however many times you play the same numbers.
The lottery example is also a good way to explain the Inverse Gambler’s Fallacy. If a friend won the lottery and you assumed that they must have been playing for years for their numbers to have come up, you’d have fallen for the Inverse Gambler’s Fallacy. The Inverse Gambler’s Fallacy would also apply if you believed they were especially lucky to have won on their first go. Again, this is because the odds of winning the lottery with the same set of numbers are the same the first time you play them as the millionth.