Luis A. Solferino
Randomness, the quality or state of lacking a pattern or principle of organization; unpredictability. In this paper, I will try to emphasize the element of randomness which is present in all casino gambling outcomes, whether you believe in luck, fate, number tracking, card counting, etc. it´s a factor that will deter all superstitions and misconceptions.
When it comes to gambling and more specifically to games of chance, normally a series of events that cannot be predicted are involved. If we have to put this in other words, no one could be absolutely sure what the outcome of such a game would be in case that the outcomes have the same chance of occurring.
As a matter of fact, a great deal of the systems gamblers have created in an attempt to beat random events, are based of misconceptions about the very nature of randomness and random events in particular.
When it comes to gambling, random events usually provide players with the chance to make dynamic choices. In addition, they could be repeated throughout the game at random, though some events could appear once and not be repeated until the end of the game. The role of random numbers in gambling is actually critical to every casino game’s integrity, but unfortunately, it is poorly understood by a great number of players.
Randomness and Unpredictability
The truth is that randomness is not easy to define. Random events cannot be predicted, they are irregular and erratic, they cannot be planned and are totally independent of each other. Randomness also refers to the outcomes’ distribution, as they have to be independent. Still, random events could on some occasions form a certain pattern or serve a specific purpose. In addition, any patter could form accidentally alone if provided with enough opportunity.
Regardless of the fact that random events are considered to happen without a specific cause and appear not to follow any rules, they come as a result of a material cause. Unfortunately, when it comes to casino and gaming operations, even a precise list of forces acting on a RNG (Random Number Generator) for instance may not be defined correctly.
Sometimes, casino players share their beliefs that no such thing as randomness exists. Such gamblers usually also believe that the outcome of games could actually be predicted. On the other hand, according to some casino players, random events do not have a specific cause and just happen. As a matter of fact, this is one of the most common beliefs, which could make random events seem quite mysterious.
However, there is absolutely no mystery about that. In fact, all physical events have a cause, and casino games are no exception. In addition, the laws of physics are used in gambling in order to maximize the uncertainty. A combination of two components – a initial uncertainty plus a complex or non-linear relationships – lies in the very basis of all random-like events. When there is a small change in the input that is able to cause an unpredictable change in the outcome, a complex or non-linear relationship is involved.
When there is uncertainty involved, this automatically means that players are not aware of the exact values of all variables with absolute precision. In addition, measurement and uncertainty are connected, as nothing is 100% certain. This, on the other hand, is exactly why nothing could be measured so precisely in order for the uncertainty to be fully eliminated.
Determining a Game’s Winner
Chance has always played an important part in the majority of casino games. No matter if it comes to slots machines, roulette, video poker, bingo or lottery, there is always some element of chance and every player can intuitively recognize that, especially in the cases when the chance element is not completely random.
Randomness is often affirmed by using the statistical analysis’ results. On the other hand, predictability has to be associated with the question whether or not the outcome of a certain random event can be partially or completely foreseen.
When it comes to the winner in some casino games, chance is certainly involved. On the other hand, it does not have such a great influence in other games.
For example, games such as slots machines, craps or various lotteries, players must depend primarily on their luck, because winning or losing in such games is exclusively determined by the outcome of the random result. Unlike these games, the games that involve various betting strategies have nothing to do with luck. These are the games that involve cards, and primarily, poker. The latter’s outcome is determined by the players’ actions, and the only random event is the deck shuffling.
Cognitive biases are traditional for humans. Such biases normally make losses stand out in comparison to the wins. This is another reason why mathematics and statistical analysis are quite important, especially considering the fact that people usually misjudge some facts or make decisions based on emotional reasons.
However, numbers in casino games are not subjected to biases, which makes random events truly hard to predict.
Card games are considered the ones that greatly reduce randomizer’s efficiency. Actually, the process of randomizing cards involves two steps, including shuffling and cutting the deck. The first action comes to mix up the cards and brings more complexity to the game, and the second ensures uncertainty. Another action that is used in order for the cards’ randomness to be increased is spreading the cards to the players face down, which is called “washing the deck”.
According to various studies, it takes about seven complete shuffles in order for randomness to be ensured to players. Due to the fact that there are card games such as baccarat and blackjack that often use six or more decks of cards simultaneously, most casinos do not have enough time to shuffle the cards that long. This is exactly what has resulted in making a system called “shuffle tracking”, which could be taken as a variation of card counting. The development of technologies have resulted in the creating of automatic shufflers using a Random Number Generator.
The game of roulette, on the other hand, has been considered as one of the games with most efficient randomizers. The combination of gravity, friction, bumps and obstacles as well as the centrifugal motion ensure the non-linearity and predictability in the game.
The complexity of random events is increased also because of the fact that the roulette’s inner wheel spins in the direction that is opposite of the one in which the croupier throws the ball. The speed of the wheel, the bouncing of the ball, its weight as well as even the air humidity and air pressure plays an important role when it comes to land-based casinos.
Since the ball is not thrown neither with precisely the same force, nor from the same position every time and differs from the wheel’s speed, the outcome of the game cannot be predicted.
Randomness can easily by ensured to the game of dice when flat surfaces and sharp edges are combined. This, along with the fact that the rolling of the dice is hard to be predicted, makes the game’s outcome impossible to predict.
In addition, the special house rules that are applied to dice games and specify what is a valid throw makes it literally impossible for the casino to manipulate the outcome of the roll.
Bingo and Lotteries
Randomness of bingo and lottery games is ensured by keeping the balls in a special enclosed space. In addition, they are moved around by air or are simply rolled in the cages, which makes it really hard to predict which the next number will be.
Even the material of the cage could provide additional variation that adds to the randomness of the outcome. In addition, there is normally small differences in the original position of the balls that add to the randomness.
Random Events Patterns
As already mentioned above, a lot of casino players have various erroneous beliefs about the very nature of random events, which often lead to misconceptions and misjudgement about random sequences. People have always tried to make predictions about the outcome of a certain casino game by trying to identify patterns.
It has been scientifically proved that people’s minds are predisposed to find patterns. It is yet unclear what was the reason why people have evolved this ability as an inseparable part of our evolution process or not.
The truth is that most sequences of random events actually contain a mixture of regular patterns and some random variabilities that do not belong to a certain pattern. In addition, the cognitive system of human beings always identifies patterns in sequences of events, no matter if such a patterns truly exists. Moreover, a great part of the random sequences, when existing, do not feature a pattern that could be easily recognized.
The human brain has a tendency oriented toward the so-called “selective reporting”, which is actually the habit of recognizing certain events as more significant than others, totally ignoring the latter. Unfortunately, it is exactly the “insignificant” events that could help casino players evaluate the likelihood of the perceived pattern. Another tendency that is closely related to the afore-mentioned one is for the people to underestimate the likelihood of repeat numbers. The same applies also to sequences and rare events.
People learn through their experience, which is why they would normally logically induce general rules on that basis. Logically, if a person’s experience is limited, they may induce the wrong rule and when that is combined with chance, this could lead to false expectations.
Luis has worked for many years in senior positions in the casino industry working from Africa to Latin America. As Mexico expands its casino industry we strongly advise interested parties to contact Luis as he is very much up to date on these issues and regulation.
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