Bets (Part 1)

I’m not really a gambler but I like betting occasionally. I don’t have the patience to study form and I’m not that interested in sport in general so I tend to avoid sports betting. Except Cheltenham. I don’t know why, but I like the Cheltenham festival and I might have a punt on a few races each year. Usually unsuccessfully, but never disastrously. I’m not a high roller. My maximum bet would be in the region of a fiver. But, even so, having a stake in a horse race adds spice to the contest.

My gambling activity of choice is online roulette, particularly in online live casinos.

I have a Paddy Power account in which I have currently a grand total of €17.68. About five minutes ago, that was €1.98, and six minutes ago €16.98.

About 10 years ago, I read somewhere online that, if you followed a simple system of betting on, say, red in roulette, and doubling your bet every time you lost, the law of averages would result in the ball eventually landing in a red slot and you’d double your original stake.

So, one day, I thought I’d give it a go. I used my online Paddy Power account in which I had a smallish amount of cash, opened up a live casino window and laid a bet on red. I can’t remember my initial stake. Maybe €2. I followed the system, betting on red each turn of the wheel and doubling the stake if the ball landed in a black slot. It worked. My winnings steadily climbed and in an hour or so I was up €500.

My pulse was racing and in a dopamine haze, I was imagining where this could lead. I started fantasising about a new car, a little place in the country, giving up the day job. I found myself starting to lose my concentration and I stopped betting. I went down to my local Paddy Power outlet and withdrew €300 of the €500 I won, just in case, although, at this stage, I thought I was the gambling master of the universe.

What never crossed my mind at that time was that, if it was so simple to beat the roulette wheel, why wasn’t everybody doing it?

A few days later, the excitement of my casino virginity-losing experience fresh in my mind, I opened up my laptop, logged in to Paddy Power, found a likely wheel and started again.

The gambler’s fallacy is the mistaken belief that if something happens more frequently than normal during a given period, it will happen less frequently in the future. Hence the idea that if you bet on red, and you get a run of blacks, you’ll get a red eventually. While it is inevitable that you will get a red eventually, it may take some time and, by that time, you may have run out of money.

Consider the arithmetic. You lay a €2 bet on red. The ball lands on black. You double your bet to €4. The ball lands on black again. You double your bet again to €8. Black. €16, €32, €64, €128, €256, €512, €1024. In ten spins of the wheel, you’ve bet €2046 to win back your original €2 stake. That’s €2046 in probably about 10 minutes or less.

I didn’t lose €2046 that day, but I did lose the €200 that I had left in my online account, and pretty quickly too. No quicker way to dismantle your fantasies than the fright of losing money very quickly. In a future post, I’ll tell you what I did next, in order to try to even the odds a bit and how that worked out.

I won €4 today by the way. Based on an original balance of about €13, that’s a 30% increase in funds. If I won €4 everyday for a year, that would net me €1460. That’s a percentage increase of 11000% on the original €13. That and the adrenaline rush of placing a bet in the first place tells you all you need to know about why gambling is so seductive.

Anyway, today I painted this …

I want to paint a Christmas wreath with holly and mistletoe on a pebble and I needed to find out whether I could actually paint one that looked the way it was supposed to look. So, this is, I suppose, what is/used to be called a study. The holly leaves are a bit flat looking and the bow isn’t really attached to the wreath but, apart from that, I’m pretty pleased with it. I was thinking of painting the pebble with a darkish background first to create a greater contrast but, looking at this now, maybe not.

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