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False beliefs

False beliefs versus facts

Separating fact from fiction

I’m Pat the Decipherer and I’m interested in everything that has to do with chance, beliefs and superstitions. I want to know where it all comes from, and how it all works. I’m here to separate fact from fiction, and give you a clearer understanding of what the fascinating world of gambling is all about.


Some are convinced that wearing their “lucky shirt” will bring them all manner of success—when in truth, it’s really a matter of chance!

Myth:“I have a ritual that I perform each time I play. It brings me luck.”

Fact: Performing a ritual or carrying a lucky charm will not improve your chances of winning. Do you do this? Continue if you like, but be realistic and see some humour in it... In the end, it’s all about enjoying yourself!

Examples of rituals 

  • Blowing on the dice before throwing them
  • Always playing the same machine
  • Playing a machine only in the evening or on a given day of the week
  • Wearing a “lucky” pin
  • Repeating the same gestures before pressing the “Play” button
  • Touching wood before playing 

Myth:“If I correctly analyze the game, I can predict its outcome.”

Fact: Leave your strategies at home! No one can predict the outcome of any game of chance. The law of odds applies to most games of chance, which means that each draw and each play is independent of the previous and subsequent ones.

Myth:“When playing the lottery, picking the same combination for each draw improves my chances of winning the jackpot.”

Fact: Remember that there is no way to influence the outcome of lottery draws. The outcome is determined by chance. Every number has the same chance of being selected at each draw, whether it is a number composed of identical digits (111111) or different ones (824739).

Myth:“I can’t stop gambling now. My luck is about to change, and I’ll win back the money I’ve lost.”

Fact: Slot machines and VLTs have a random number generator. This computer chip generates thousands of combinations per second, whether or not someone is playing on the machine. The chip guarantees that the outcome is the result of chance.

Example: Imagine a bag containing 999,999 white marbles and 1 red marble. In order to win the jackpot, you have to pick the red marble. Every time a marble is selected, it is returned to the bag before the next draw. The odds of picking the red marble are 1 in 1,000,000 at every pick. The number of picks changes nothing. The same principle applies to slot machines and video lottery terminals. You cannot predict when a machine will pay out.

Myth:“I almost won! I can feel it coming. I will win the jackpot on my next spins.”

Fact: Hoping to win is fine. It’s part of the fun. But you should still expect to lose. You don’t have a better chance to win at the first game or the tenth. The probability of winning the jackpot remains the same at each draw and at each spin.

And don’t try to read patterns in the order of symbols. Obtaining a certain order of symbols several times (for example, cherries or bells) in which only one is missing to win the jackpot does not mean that you will win soon. At machines, you win or you lose. You never almost win”

In Québec: Slot machines and video lottery terminals are programmed to retain approximately 8% of the money bet by the totality of players. At these games, individual players lose on average, in the long term, 8% of every dollar bet. If you bet $100, expect to lose $8. If you bet the $92 left over, you’ll again lose, a little more than $7. If you keep playing, you’ll end up losing your $100. In the course of one sitting, (thus in the short term), things don’t work that way. The House advantage is only observed in the long term and not at each bet.

Myth:“If I play more than one machine at a time, I’ll increase my chances of winning.”

Fact: Yes, the probabilities of winning increase when you play more than one slot machine at a time. However, you also spend and lose more money as well. Remember that the more you play, the higher the risk of losing money.


Myth:“At poker, the odds of being dealt a pair of aces are about 1 in 221 hands. As I’ve played 200 games, I expect that pair to come up soon.”

Fact: The odds at each hand of being dealt a pair of aces are 1 in 221. That does not mean that you’ll be dealt that pair at your 221st hand.

Probabilities are established from observing thousands of games. As cards are shuffled and randomly dealt, in actual fact, a player could get that pair in the first hand, or never get it at all.

Myth: “It is possible to gain skills and knowledge at certain games and beat the odds.”

Fact: Do you like to bluff? You’ll have fun. Some table games like poker and blackjack have elements of skill. Players can acquire knowledge of the game, develop strategies and learn how to bluff. But remember that even if you bluff, you have no control over the odds, which sooner or later, will spoil your best laid plans.

Sports betting and horse racing require knowledge on the part of the bettor. To place a bet, players use information on the performance of a given horse or team. But on the field, anything can happen to affect the odds of winning big. Don’t expect to get rich off your knowledge of your favourite sport!