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Gaming Guru

 

Searching for Patterns

10 February 2012

I recently read a research article that discussed how our brains are programmed to search for patterns from any information that they receive. Of course this is hardly news to anyone who has taken an ink blot test or stared at the sky and saw sailing ships or other objects in the cloud formations. The study however dealt more with how the brain will look for patterns in random information. A good example of this would be doing a word search puzzle, where you identify and circle words found in rows and columns of letters. The words are the identifiable patterns.

The article cited a study that was done in 2002 by a group of researchers at the Duke University Medical Center. They discovered that a region of our brain automatically watches for patterns in sequences of events, even when the pattern emerges by random happenstance. The mind tends to organize the information that it receives and tries to reduce it into simple patterns.

According to the scientists, such compulsive pattern perception evolved to enable humans in the natural world to escape danger, for example by recognizing that a nearby twig snap and a growl signaled a looming predator. However, they said, "In today's artificial world such pattern perception also gives rise to maladaptive superstitions, such as the gambler's belief that a pair of dice is 'due' to roll a seven."

While many people's brains may search for patterns on subconscious level, most gamblers are consciously searching for patterns that they believe will give them the edge as they gamble. They will look at random past events and try to form them into a pattern that will reveal a possible winning play.

Some casinos even promote this notion by helping the player track previous hands during their gambling session. If you play Baccarat you can ask for a scorecard on which to write down whether the last hand was won by the player or the banker. In casinos that offer roulette, most of the tables have an electronic scoreboard that shows you the outcome of the last 20 spins. This makes it easier for players who want to "search" the results for a winning pattern, and most believe that they will find something. If they do get lucky and make the right choice after discerning a perceived pattern, it will be positive reinforcement that patterns do exist and can be used to help a player win.

Limited Possibilities

One of the reasons that casino games seem to have recognizable patterns is that they have a limited number of outcomes available for each game. The small number of possible results that can be achieved results in the perceived formation of patterns. Three examples of casino table games that are popular with players who look for patterns are Baccarat, Roulette and Craps.

In the game of Baccarat there are only three possibilities. The winner will be the Banker, the Player or a Tie.

In the game of Roulette there are only 38 outcomes if you are betting on the inside numbers (36 plus 0 and 00) and fewer if you are betting on red/black or odd/even wagers.

There are only 36 combinations that can be made with a pair of dice, but there are only eleven numbers that can be rolled with a pair of dice The numbers: 2 - 12. With so few numbers to track it is only natural that you can make your mind see a pattern in the results.

But table games are not the only place where gamblers may see patterns. Many players report seeing patterns occur on the machine games as well.

Video Poker players often mention seeing certain cards dealt in "patterns" as they play or they may see recurring pairs come up on the screen. Whatever the pattern you perceive, your mind makes note of it and you start consciously looking for those cards on each draw.

For example, you may notice that you are dealt a pair of threes. Your mind makes note of it and with each draw you are looking for that pair of threes. As much as it seems like there is a pattern to the way the video poker hands are dealt, it is not really uncommon to see recurring cards. Most games are played with a 52-card deck (53 or 54 for joker poker) and you are dealt five cards per hand. The odds of being dealt a pair are 1 in 2.37 so it is not uncommon to see a recurring pair when you are playing a few hundred hands per hour.

One casino game that promotes the belief in patterns more than any of the others is the game of Keno. If you ask either live Keno or video Keno players if they believe that the winning numbers drawn form patterns, most of them will tell you that they do. Keno players often talk about recurring patterns that occur while playing. There are even several books on sale that promote pattern play as the main strategy.

These recurring patterns in the game of Keno are really not remarkable when you look at how the game is played. A Keno board consists of 80 numbers spread out in eight rows of 10 numbers. During each game 20 numbers are drawn. That means one quarter of all the numbers will be picked. It is quite likely that you will see an L, T, U, X, or some other recognizable pattern that repeats as you play. This is especially true when playing video Keno because each game lasts only a matter of seconds. Statistically patterns are more likely to occur than having the numbers spread out evenly across the board.

Pattern Strategy

Now that you know your brain searches for patterns while you are playing your favorite casino game, what should you do if you see a pattern? Bet on it. However NEVER bet more than you would on any other hand you play. Unless you are playing video poker or blackjack that uses a set mathematical playing strategy, it will not matter. You will be just as likely to win if you make your wagering selection on your perceived pattern as you would if you made your decision randomly. If you get more fun by placing your bets based on your pattern recognition, then by all means go for it. Having fun is the reason you play.

Until next time remember:
Luck comes and goes.....Knowledge Stays Forever.

Bill Burton
Bill Burton is a gambling expert and best-selling author of Get the Edge at Low Limit Texas Hold'em and 1000 Best Casino Gambling Secrets. He is the former Casino Gambling columnist for About.com.

Burton's Texas Holdem book was published in 2002 long before the game became a national phenomenon. The producers of Bravo's Celebrity Poker Showdown used his book during the first season to teach the game to the participants.

He writes for several national gaming magazines and newsletters. These publications include: Casino Player, Strictly Slots, The Southern California Gaming Guide, Midwest Gaming and Travel magazine, Southern Gaming and Destinations magazine, Midwest Player and Blackjack Insider.

Burton is an instructor for the Golden Touch Craps dice control seminars teaching players how to gain the advantage in craps. He is an expert at all casino games and can teach players how to play any casino game as well as offering them advice to get the most out of their casino visits.

Bill Burton Websites:

www.billburton.com
www.goldentouchcraps.com

Books by Bill Burton:

> More Books By Bill Burton

Bill Burton
Bill Burton is a gambling expert and best-selling author of Get the Edge at Low Limit Texas Hold'em and 1000 Best Casino Gambling Secrets. He is the former Casino Gambling columnist for About.com.

Burton's Texas Holdem book was published in 2002 long before the game became a national phenomenon. The producers of Bravo's Celebrity Poker Showdown used his book during the first season to teach the game to the participants.

He writes for several national gaming magazines and newsletters. These publications include: Casino Player, Strictly Slots, The Southern California Gaming Guide, Midwest Gaming and Travel magazine, Southern Gaming and Destinations magazine, Midwest Player and Blackjack Insider.

Burton is an instructor for the Golden Touch Craps dice control seminars teaching players how to gain the advantage in craps. He is an expert at all casino games and can teach players how to play any casino game as well as offering them advice to get the most out of their casino visits.

Bill Burton Websites:

www.billburton.com
www.goldentouchcraps.com

Books by Bill Burton:

1000 Best Casino Gambling Secrets

> More Books By Bill Burton