National Center for Irresponsible Gambling
ABOUT NCIGRESEARCH CENTEREDUCATIONPUBLIC OUTREACHRESOURCESCONTACT US
Helpful Links
Gambling Publications
Articles

 

The Dice Have No Memory. Oh, Really? Says Who?


NCIG home > resources > articles > dice have no memory...

 

By Dr. Panayiotis Papadakis

We're about to debunk yet another gambling myth. Mathematicians have gone through great lengths to prove that "the dice have no memory," as they commonly say. Well, let's see what other theories these "expert" mathematicians have managed to "prove."

One mathematician managed to prove that it is theoretically possible to balance an elephant at the tip of its tail. Oh, yeah? And when, may I ask, has anyone ever seen an elephant balanced on the tip of its tail?

Another "expert" mathematician managed to prove that in theory a bumble bee cannot possibly fly. Oh, yeah? And what, may I ask, are those bumble bees doing when they buzz around collecting pollen?

And, finally, another mathematician managed to prove that "dice have no memory."

Fine. All the theory doesn't do us any good in practice. But in practice, when was the last time anyone has ever seen a pair of dice roll the same two numbers one thousand times in a row? That may be possible in theory (because dice have no memory, right?) but in practice (which is all that we are interested in when we put our money down) that just doesn't happen. And why doesn't it happen? Well, I guess because it is impossible, practically speaking, that a pair of dice would roll the same numbers over and over again. And why is it impossible? Well, I guess because in the long run all the numbers must even out, so the same numbers cannot roll over and over again. So, I guess to use some fancy language and put it in the words of "expert" mathematicians, the dice do have some kind of memory, after all.

So, what does that mean in a practical sense? Well, if I see the same number come up three times in a row, in roulette, you can be pretty sure you won't see me putting my money down on that same number, for the fourth spin. That is called an educated decision. So, on that spin the casino does not have an edge over me, because the natural selection "killed" a number for me, but the casino still has to pay me 35 to 1 on my win. And if that same number does roll the fourth time it's just a weird anomaly, but you can be pretty sure you won't see that number come up a fifth time in a row. But of course, it's always possible that it does, at least in theory. Here we go with that "theory" talk again. And in practice that same number can roll with as much certainty as a person getting hit by lightning on a sunny day at the beach.

So, do you see many folks looking for shelter to protect themselves from lightning bolts when they are sunbathing at the beach? Not many, right? But they all know it is still theoretically possible. So, why don't they worry? Well, for the same reasons we can assume not to worry too much about that same number rolling for the fifth consecutive time. But, here I say it again, the house still has to pay 35 to 1. That's your advantage.

 

Bookmark and Share
Gambling Resources

NCIG home | about NCIG | research center | education | public outreach | resources | contact us

helpful links | gambling publications | articles