There exists a gambling fallacy – one that applies to many games, but is especially evident in roulette – in which a player believes that if the bouncing ball has landed on red enough times, black is bound to come up next. There are a few other ways to play this particular gambit on a roulette wheel, but given the “50/50 odds” (which is also false, on most wheels), the red versus black play is seemingly most common.
Think of it as one of Vegas’ highest grossing examples of “Due Factor”.
The problem with the thinking, of course, is that every time the ball is dropped, it can land on any one of 38 numbers (let’s just assume we’re using a double-zero wheel, m-kay?). Two of those numbers wouldn’t pay your bet at all, and assuming you dodge that bullet your odds are still only one in eighteen. In theory, a roulette wheel could come up red all night long.
It’s almost as if “Due Factor” isn’t a good investment strategy. Crazy talk, I know, but stick with me here.
The San Francisco Giants have won five straight win-or-go-home elimination games. The St. Louis Cardinals have won six straight win-or-go-home elimination games. One of these streaks will end tonight. This is like the roulette wheel from hell. Which team do you bet on? Which team is DUE?
This is where things get tricky, because now you’re not only staring at a decision of which team is more DUE than the other – is it the Cardinals because the Giants have more recently won elimination games? is it the Giants because they have more recently won elimination games? – but also the additional confusion of both teams being on a streak.
Once you get burned enough times betting against the history and losing faith in DUE, that’s when streaks get into your head. That little white ball comes up red enough times, and by golly, it’s bound to come up red again just to pay for your buffet for the evening, right? This is why casinos continue to get larger and more opulent.
In fact, it’s almost as if streaks are not predictive of the future. Winning streaks do not portend continued wins. Hitting streaks have never lasted indefinitely.
*insert mind blown hand gestures here*
So it is, that the Cardinals and Giants enter Game Seven of the 2012 NLCS tonight in San Francisco, neither one really due, both on a streak. How are you supposed to pick a winner out of that?
- Kyle Lohse can keep tacking zeroes onto his next contract with a big win tonight. He has been the stalwart of the Cards’ rotation this season and could be their best chance to win tonight.
- Matt Cain is good at throwing baseballs that avoid bats to a catcher.
- The Cardinals aren’t winning anything if the bats don’t awake from their slumber tonight.
- How will Matt Holliday‘s back feel at game time? Also my dear, dear Cardinal fans who believe the team is “better off” with Holliday out of the lineup, you are incorrect. I won’t argue this point with you, because you are probably currently busy betting on black after an incomprehensible string of red results.
- Tim McCarver’s Keys to the Game: Find a way to steal all of Marco Scutaro‘s bats and THEN every other bat on the planet, so he cannot hit the ball.
- The Cardinals must be sound in the field, confident in making plays. Lohse will depend on Pete Kozma and Daniel Descalso to get outs tonight. They must make that happen.
- Who will be the hero? These games almost always demand one, and the way this series has gone it could be anyone for any reason.
- Or will the goat be more visible?
Each of these teams have been in this position before. Each has succeeded in varying levels of magnitude. As friend of the site Pat Daugherty (@RotoPat) pointed out last night on Twitter, the Giants and Cardinals are both 0-0 on October 22, 2012.
Seeing a lot of great stats, but the one that really caught my eye is both the Giants and Cards are 0-0 on Oct. 22, 2012.
— Patrick Daugherty(@RotoPat) October 22, 2012
(Does that mean they’re both due?)