How Randomness and Pattern Recognition Affect Gambling Choices

The illusion of control is one of the most dangerous cognitive biases associated with gambling. It encourages players to take unnecessary risks and can lead to financial ruin, addiction, and other problems.

The results from this study show that baseline Luck/Chance distortions are associated with gambling-problems, while the distortions related to Skill/Attitude were not.

Illusion of Control

The illusion of control is one of the most common cognitive errors that leads to problem gambling. It involves the belief that gambling requires skill, and that players can predict or determine the results of a gamble by using the right strategies. This type of erroneous thinking can be particularly dangerous during losing streaks, when players become anxious and desperate to recoup their losses.

As a result, they may engage in riskier behaviour and wager more money than they would otherwise. Additionally, players can also fall victim to upward counterfactual thinking, a bias that causes them to believe they would have won if they had acted differently (Darke & Freedman, 1997a).

This can lead to superstitious rituals and habits, such as touching lucky charms or repeating certain phrases before betting. It is therefore important to educate yourself about the psychology of luck in online gambling, recognizing and challenging irrational beliefs and habits that could impact your decision-making.


People who gamble frequently often develop superstitions around their gambling habits. They may rub a rabbit’s foot, wear their lucky socks or even a specific team jersey to help increase their chances of winning. Some bettors will even whistle to themselves, believing that it brings good luck and prevents bad one. Ultimately, these superstitions are examples of the availability heuristic which occurs when individuals base their judgments and decisions on readily available information.

Another common type of 12bet gambling superstition is the belief that a person could have won more if they had been luckier. Researchers have found that this is a form of upward counterfactual thinking, which leads to an irrational expectation to win. This thinking can have a negative impact on gambling behavior, and can lead to pathological gambling. In fact, a study on upward counterfactual thinking and gambling behavior (Holub et al., 2003) found that participants with high levels of upward counterfactual thinking expected fewer wins than those with low levels of this type of thinking.

Randomness and Pattern Recognition

When you step into the captivating world of online gambling, it’s easy to get caught up in the thrills and excitement. But, while luck certainly plays a role, there’s also a lot that you can control.

For example, when a close-call experience (like an almost-win) occurs, it can trigger a sense of anticipation. In turn, this fuels the gambler’s desire to keep playing, hoping that victory is just around the corner. This is known as “chasing losses.” Unfortunately, this can lead to further losses and even psychological problems.

Researchers believe that one of the key reasons why people are susceptible to this kind of behavior is because they tend to over-generalize their subjective sense of control. They also use heuristics, or shortcuts, to make judgments and decisions. One of these is the availability heuristic, which is the tendency to base decisions on readily available information. Upward counterfactual thinking may be able to mitigate this tendency and help prevent gambling problems.

Emotional Impact

Gambling is a complex activity where both wins and losses are inevitable. During a losing streak, players might feel frustrated, anxious, or desperate to recoup their losses. This can trigger a dangerous cycle in which emotions override rational decision-making. This is where cognitive distortions, such as the illusion of control and the gambler’s fallacy come into play.

These distortions, which include superstitions and rituals, provide a sense of security in an environment where the boundaries between skill and chance are blurred and the whims of fate are in charge. However, it is important to recognize and challenge these irrational beliefs, in order to prevent their negative impacts on gambling behaviour.

A positive mindset is key to online gambling success, as it can help players overcome negative emotions and remain confident in their abilities. It may also embolden them to take strategic, higher-risk approaches to gambling, which could lead to significant payouts. Interestingly, our study found that the level of belief in luck was not related to the gambling problems of participants at baseline or 6-months, but it was significantly associated with upward counterfactual thinking.