The young fellah tells me to just let rip, so now I’m gonna give it to you straight and fast. You don’t like it. Well, you can do the other thing. At my time of life, I got no time for them as thinks they know better unless they’re buying me drinks. Then I reckon they’re buying my time — anyways, people in bars always seem more interesting when free alcohol kicks in.
Now, if it’s one thing my father taught me that’s become a kinda guiding principle, it’s that people without math live their lives in a fog. They’ve got no idea what they’re doing. An’ you never see this more often than in a casino watching how people play the slot machines. So, just for a moment, I’m going to slip into their mindset — give you a quick tour of how a gambler can fall into a trap. Need a drink first, though, to dull the pain.
So, here I am, playing video poker. I’m feeding the machine and keeping count of the number of times I do and don’t get winning combinations in the pay table. Got me some serious scientific study going on here! My video poker strategy is down pat! You see, to my way of thinking, there’s no such thing as a random sequence. The probability of any one thing happening is set by what went before. So, if I got me a winning hand, the law of averages says the odds of that happening again is poorer for the hands that come just after it. An’ that’s true for the reverse as well. The longer I go without a winning hand, the more likely a big hand gets.
These folk live in a dream world. You ever watch a Poker Dealer wash and shuffle a deck of 52 cards fairly. Then the Dealer deals five cards to each player from that shuffled deck. The first card dealt comes with a 1 in 52 chance, the second with a 1 in 51 chance, and so on as the cards are dealt in turn. All the countries licensing video versions of card and dice games have laws. No country wants to kill the golden goose that’s laying all them tax eggs so they all want to see fair games. Players vote with their feet if they think a game’s crooked. That’s in no-one’s interest. So all casinos gotta match the odds of a real card game with a human dealer. You might be thinking these casinos’ll still be out to cheat you in some way — after all, wouldn’t nothing be easier than to tweak the software — and those countries’re probably corrupt, take a backhander and look the other way. But there’s no need to cheat. No matter how you cut it, the games make more’n enough money when played fairly. Even when serious professionals come out to play, the House has an edge.
So, on a video poker machine, the Random Number Generator (RNG for short) shuffles that virtual deck of 52 cards and pulls out your first five. Now sometimes, the slot machines sit with that randomized deck and deal the next cards off the top when you press draw. In others, that ol’ RNG don’t know when to quit. It keeps on notionally shuffling the deck while you’re busy trying to decide what to do with your hand. The longer you take, the more times the RNG has cycled. Finally, you decide what you’re holding and hit the draw button. You get whatever’s on top of the deck at that precise moment. Wait a fraction of a second longer, and you get different cards. It don’t matter which wy the machines’re set up. The deck has a random distribution of cards.
What these dreamers in a fog never see clearly is the principle of statistical independence. This a fancy way of saying that events are unrelated — when the first occurrence has no effect on the second. When events are random. So when is a sequence of cards random? When the odds of you predicting the next card are no better than chance. It’s like tossing a coin. Every time you toss a coin, the chances of getting one of two sides is always 1 in 2. It never changes from one toss to the next.
So don’t you never fall into no gambler’s fallacy. There ain’t no deck of cards or dice that got a memory. They’re just the tools we use to gamble with. Sure these new video poker machines can have big memories but there ain’t no point to that. So long as they all got a RNG, all they’re doing is remembering the longest string of random numbers anyone’s ever bothered to collect.
So I’ll be getting back to the free online video poker — I’m looking over a new game. Ain’t no reason to pay to play. Just browsing for now.