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An Artful Approach to the "Science" of Gambling

2 September 2009

I would venture an opinion that a majority of casino goers look upon gaming as more of a recreational activity than an art or a science.

There is no arguing the fact that mathematical probability is the constant that governs the strategies behind whatever decision making there is in gambling, which would make it a science.

Knowing the math is essential to understanding the concept of gambling, but it isn't necessarily essential to making a bet and being successful.

Luck, interpretation, and empirical decision making come into play frequently enough to categorize gambling as an art.

There's a school of philosophy known as empiricism; an experimental method in which the search for knowledge is conducted by observation and experiment. Scientific methods give way to experience.

In one sense, the math becomes an abstract and the luck factor becomes reality during the abbreviated windows of opportunity that individuals play games of chance.

Mathematical probability rules supreme over the game itself, not the physical act of playing the game.

If you perceive of luck as blips on the radar screen of gambling during any given segment of playing time, then you can begin to understand how reaching the long-range target of a specific percentage as dictated by the math loses its impact on individual players during select periods of time.

There really is no way to prove that empirical knowledge plays any role whatsoever in gambling. The unwavering laws of mathematical probability debunk the application of empiricism to games of chance.

Most gambling authorities say that playing blackjack at the same table with someone who uses poor strategy has no bearing on your game. They also say that if someone sits down at the table and joins the game in the middle of a shoe, the disruption of the flow of cards will have no impact on whether you win or lose.

Yet almost every time a situation such as those described above develops, the game takes a negative turn for me. There's no logical reason for that to happen. Empirical knowledge? Perhaps.

Or how about when you're playing craps? Reason tells you there is no such thing as a hot or a cold table, or even a bad shooter or a good shooter. But practical experience tells you that there is.

The dice have no memory, and each roll is completely independent of the preceding one, yet any seasoned craps player is aware of the empirical aspects of the game.

Over the course of millions of rolls of the dice by tens of thousands of people as a collective group, mathematical probability works with precision.

As for individual gamblers during abbreviated periods of time, variables occur which can result in fortuitous wins or inexplicable losses.

Approaching your gaming ventures strictly from a standpoint of mathematics and probability may be the most sensible means of attack, but a little empirical knowledge can go a long way.

Recent Articles
Best of John G. Brokopp
John G. Brokopp

John G. Brokopp's gaming column appears in Chicago Sun Times (Chicago, Illinois), The Times (Northwest Indiana), The Quad City Times (Davenport, Iowa), The Courier News (Elgin, Illinois), The Gazette (Southwest Suburban Chicago) and Senior Wire (Denver, CO). He's also a regular contributor to The Colorado Gambler, Midwest Gaming & Travel, Casino Player and Strictly Slots. John possesses 28 years of experience as a professional handicapper, publicist, freelance writer, and casino gaming correspondent. He is also the author of two very popular books, The Insiderâ€™s Guide to Internet Gambling and Thrifty Gambling.

Books by John G. Brokopp:

John G. Brokopp
John G. Brokopp's gaming column appears in Chicago Sun Times (Chicago, Illinois), The Times (Northwest Indiana), The Quad City Times (Davenport, Iowa), The Courier News (Elgin, Illinois), The Gazette (Southwest Suburban Chicago) and Senior Wire (Denver, CO). He's also a regular contributor to The Colorado Gambler, Midwest Gaming & Travel, Casino Player and Strictly Slots. John possesses 28 years of experience as a professional handicapper, publicist, freelance writer, and casino gaming correspondent. He is also the author of two very popular books, The Insiderâ€™s Guide to Internet Gambling and Thrifty Gambling.