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The Doctrine Of Probabilities Applied To Gambling

Volume I

The Gaming Table by Andrew Steinmetz, Volume II

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The Doctrine Of Probabilities Applied To Gambling

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Casino Gambling in history

The doctrine of chances tends to explode the long-standing
superstition that there is in play such a thing as LUCK, good or
bad. If by saying that a man has good luck, nothing more were
meant than that he has been generally a gainer at play, the
expression might be allowed as very proper in a short way of
speaking; but if the word 'good luck' be understood to signify a
certain predominant quality, so inherent in a man that he must
win whenever he plays, or at least win oftener than lose, it may
be denied that there is any such thing in nature. The asserters
of luck maintain that sometimes they have been very lucky, and at
other times they have had a prodigious run of bad luck against
them, which whilst it continued obliged them to be very cautious
in engaging with the fortunate. They asked how they could lose
fifteen games running if bad luck had not prevailed strangely
against them. But it is quite certain that although the odds
against losing so many times together be very great, namely,
32,767 to 1,--yet the POSSIBILITY of it is not destroyed by the
greatness of the odds, there being ONE chance in 32,768 that it
may so happen; therefore it follows that the succession of lost
games was still possible, without the intervention of bad luck.
The accident of losing fifteen games is no more to be imputed to
bad luck than the winning, with one single ticket, the highest
prize in a lottery of 32,768 tickets is to be imputed to good
luck, since the chances in both cases are perfectly equal. But
if it be said that luck has been concerned in the latter case,
the answer will be easy; for let us suppose luck not existing, or
at least let us suppose its influence to be suspended,--yet the
highest prize must fall into some hand or other, not as luck
(for, by the hypothesis, that has been laid aside), but from the
mere necessity of its falling somewhere.

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