Scratch tickets

Lucky charms, rituals, special numbers—when it comes to gambling, some people rely on them to change their luck, but do they really work?

In a word, no.

Myths and misconceptions about gambling can turn a good time into a frustrating, not-so-good time. What’s the best way to keep gambling fun? First, let’s dispel a few common myths.

Myth: I’m more likely to win the lottery, if I choose my own numbers.

Reality: Whether you choose family members’ birthdays, ages or favourite numbers, the chance of your numbers coming up is still completely random. A game like Lotto 6/49, for example, has a 1 in 14 million chance of winning and no matter how many people play or what numbers you pick, these odds remain the same every time you play. Whether you play the same numbers every week or choose them randomly, you can’t improve these odds.

Myth: Some slots are due for a big payout.

Reality: Just like the lottery, slot machines are completely random and their unpredictable nature makes it impossible to guess when it’ll pay out a winning jackpot. On average, B.C. slot machines will pay out 92 per cent of all money wagered, but that’s based on the lifetime of the machine and not just a single session—and over a lifetime, a machine will have millions upon millions of spins, so while you might win five times in just a few minutes, you have an equal chance of losing five times in just a few minutes. It’s all random.

Myth: A slot machine with an 85 per cent payout means I’ll make back $85 for every $100 I put into it.

Reality: Just like the example above, a slot machine’s payout percentage is based on its lifetime and not just one session. So, if it pays out 85 per cent of the money wagered, those winnings will be paid out over the course of its lifetime. And, thanks to each machine’s random number generator, it’s simply impossible to determine when the next big jackpot will hit—and don’t forget: the house always has the advantage.

Myth: I’m due for a win.

Reality: Sometimes, people think “my luck is bound to change”, but that’s just not how it works. It’s a mistaken belief that your future outcomes in a game are based on your previous ones. If you lost a lot in the past, you’re just as likely to lose again as you are to win.

Myth: I have a special ritual, lucky charm or system to help me beat the odds.

Reality: Superstitions or a belief that “lucky” rituals or items will change the outcome of a game is a common mistake. It might be fun to play around with these ideas, but you’ll feel better remembering that they’re just for fun and none of them will affect your chances of winning.

When it comes to having a special system in games of chance, you simply can’t bet on it. Oddsmakers use algorithms, have access to data most of us never get to see, and a whole host of other variables to set the odds, making it so that there’s no system that can beat the house.

Myth: The longer I play, the more likely I’ll win.

Reality: Playing longer doesn’t guarantee that you’ll win, because the odds stay the same whether you play for 10 minutes or 10 hours. When it’s time to take a break, look for a GameSense advisor—there’s now one at every casino in B.C.—to give you the tools and resources you need.

Another great way to keep gambling fun? Learn more about the games you love to play. Because the more you know about lottery, sports betting, table games, poker and slots, the more fun you’re sure to have.