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The Invasion of the Trendoids18 June 2004
Casino gamblers utilizing most systems in truly random games either go with or against a trend. If three reds come up in roulette, the anti-trend player will bet black on the next spin; the trendy player will bet red. The antitrendoid firmly believes that all streaks must end and that the other proposition is due. He firmly believes that probability irons everything out - even in the short run - and he'll capitalize on that ironing out of the numbers.
The trendoid, on the other hand, firmly believes that trends continue in the short run and that it is possible to ride the hot trend in a random game into the winning sunset. So why aren't one or the other of these groups of players becoming filthy rich utilizing their anti-trend or trend methodology? Because these contradictory but firmly held beliefs are both wrong, as we shall show in this article. As mathematicians have known for years, and as probabilists, as opposed to Cabalists, are always wont to point out, in a random game trends happen in the past, can't be projected into the future and can't be predicted based on any formula.
Past events don't foreshadow future events in random games. Random means random; it means no predetermined outcome. Therefore if you could consistently make predictions that were accurate, it wouldn't be random, it would be deterministic!
In casino player circles, some of the greatest aficionados of trends are craps players, many of whom swear that this or that trend they have just perceived will continue into the future. And the craps trendoids put their money where their perceptions are and bet those trends, sometimes with abandon. In the craps literature there are so many "trend" systems that just listing them would take all the word space for this article.
And boy oh boy, do craps players love those trend-seeking strategies, even though they can't work in the long run.
On any given day in a casino, you'll see trendoid craps players with notepads, jotting down number after number, trying to discern what has just happened and, they believe because of that, what will happen. You'll hear craps players come up to tables and ask the dealers and the other players, "Has the table been hot? Has it been cold? Has it been choppy?" They ask these questions because they want to gauge the weather of the table. Unfortunately, the very definition of weather, which is change in temperature, etc., should alert them to the fact that trends don't continue. Change is the norm for random as is unpredictability. But unpredictability trumps change every time!
Still craps players "chart" those tables, despite the fact that for the overwhelming majority of "charters" their economic ledgers over a sufficiently long period of time are in the red, as they must be in a game where the casino has the edge. How come they continue to chart? Because they remember the good times, sometimes the great times, when the trend continued, they bet on it, and won a lot of money. They tend to forget all the other times when they lost bundles.
Now, check out this string of numbers: 4999999837297804995. Look at all those nines! Okay, as a craps player would you bet the nine, a bet that has a 4% house edge, for the future decisions?
Well, you might think: "Man that must be some shooter who has control over the dice because how else could all those nines have come up?"
Or being a trendoid charter of craps tables, you'd say to yourself: "This table has a strong trend towards the nine. Why I think I'll bet the trend!" And you'd therefore bet the nine.
It's obvious that an incredible string of nines has just appeared - was it a trend that was caused by control and, as such, will continue? Or was it a trend that was inherent in the table or the universe or wherever the trendoid thinks the trend comes from and a signal to us from those powers that the trend will indeed continue so bet it up? Or was that long list of nines merely random and had no meaning whatsoever in the gambling scheme of things. The "trend" we just showed - all those nines! - comes not from craps, or our collective imaginations, but from a random number series plucked from Pi, the never-ending number series that is strictly a manifestation of randomness at its most spectacular. Yes, hard though it is to believe, that incredible string of nines is merely a random fluctuation of the number Pi.
Did the nines continue like this? No they didn't. The nines slowed down and other numbers started to come up more and then other trends happened which also didn't continue. Pi, a truly random number, just had incredible and incredibly unpredictable streaks. But what then if you bet against the trend?
Well, which number of the nine Pi digits would come up? 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, or 9? There is no way to figure that out. You'd be right one in nine times, wrong eight in nine times. If the "house" had an edge on each and every number, paying 7 to 1 on a hit, you'd be in the same boat as craps players who bet those proposition bets in the middle of the table. [There is a sneaky way to know what is coming next and that is to know that the sequences already exist in the literature of Pi but that would be cheating!]
Pi teaches us a lesson. Random is random. Trends happen, some of them outrageous, but they can't be predicted to continue. And just when you think you'll capitalize on them, some other trend takes their place. You can't win at craps by looking for trends with random shooters. You can't beat any casino game by attempting to exploit random trends. That lesson is as easy as "pi" to say but it goes against the grain for most casino gamblers who want to believe, some desperately, that trends at random games are meaningful.
Accepting no rhyme or reason for a past trend is a bitter pill for us to swallow because we are trend-finding/seeking creatures. If a game is random there are all sorts of trends that you'll see -- in the past. Projecting them onto the future is risky business but, then again, that's why they call it gambling.
This article is provided by the Frank Scoblete Network. Melissa A. Kaplan is the network's managing editor. If you would like to use this article on your website, please contact Casino City Press, the exclusive web syndication outlet for the Frank Scoblete Network. To contact Frank, please e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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