Researchers at the Centre for Gambling Research at the University of British Columbia (UBC) conducted a study that proved something everyone pretty much already knew: gamblers under the influence of alcohol are likely to throw more money on the table after losses than more sober players. Did we really need a study to figure this out?
For this study, 46 participants were split into two groups: one was given enough alcohol to reach a mild buzz while the other was given drinks that were placebos with no alcohol in them. This led to the somewhat obvious conclusion of the group who was given alcohol becoming more willing to increase their wages in order to try to recoup losses that have occurred than sober players, as alcohol reduces people’s inhibitions.
Alcohol isn’t the sole culprit, however, as having a few drinks leads to one believing in a few gambling fallacies that could lose one even more money, such as the simply named gambler’s fallacy. This fallacy basically means that if someone has had a run of bad luck at a table, they are likely to think that they are bound to have a win eventually – even though each game is individual and not correlated to the next. The math (and the house) doesn’t care if you’ve lost ten times in a row. Just because you’ve lost seven times in a row doesn’t mean you’re more likely to win the eighth. It’s quite interesting because when gamblers are winning, the study showed of ‘hot hands fallacy’, which is the opposite. Basically, if you’ve won a few times you’re gonna think you’re going to keep winning.
Well, at least we’ve gotten to the bottom of this mystery. Casinos have long known this, which is why they offer up free drinks for sports bettors and gamblers whenever they get a tad thirsty. Instead of spending money to run this study, they should have just gone for a week or two to Las Vegas and spoken to a few pit bosses, waitresses and dealers. They would have given them the definitive answer right off the bat.