Psychology behind superstitions in online slots and poker

Psychology behind superstitions in online slots and poker

The playing games of chance like online slots and poker, some players swear by superstitious rituals and practices that supposedly increase their odds of winning. While no lucky rabbit’s foot or pre-game routine sways the cold, hard math behind casino game algorithms, superstitions remain prevalent in the gambling world. This begs the question – what exactly is the psychology behind why so many players cling to superstitions, even when they know they’re irrational?

Cognitive biases

A few key cognitive biases help explain the persistence of superstitions among slots and poker players. Here’s a look at the main mental shortcuts involved:

Confirmation bias- Once slot online bro138 game players adopt a superstition, they selectively notice evidence that confirms it and overlook instances that contradict it. Seeking out confirming evidence entrenches irrational beliefs.
Gambler’s fallacy– Believing that past results influence future outcomes creates illusions of predictive power. In reality, each slot’s spin or poker hand is completely independent. Streaks are purely coincidental.
Illusion of contro– Adopting rituals gives players a false sense of control over uncontrollable chance events. This perception of influence satisfies the human need for order and agency.

These innate flaws in human reasoning cement superstitious thinking by making random outcomes seem non-random. Even when players understand superstitions are irrational, overcoming these biases is extremely difficult. Interestingly, the very fact that superstitions are irrational may increase their psychological potency. This is due to the placebo effect, where belief in a beneficial treatment triggers real physiological and mental changes, even if the treatment is inert.

Near misses and reinforcement

Two other key factors promote superstitious thinking – near misses and reinforcement. Near misses describe instances where players come agonizingly close to a big win, like two matching slot symbols with the third just one position off. Neurologically, near misses activate reward circuitry nearly identical to full-fledged wins.

The superstitious players, near misses feel significant, strengthening conviction in their rituals. When superstitions are followed by a near miss, players perceive their lucky charms as producing a “close call” win. This reinforces the behavior. Even when players logically understand near misses are meaningless, they still provide psychological validation of superstitions.

The occasional full win following a superstitious ritual delivers even more poignant reinforcement. Once players link rituals to big payouts, the conviction becomes stubbornly ingrained. Superstitions are further cemented when shared socially, creating a communal narrative around their effectiveness.

Scratching the superstition itch

Their irrationality, superstitions undoubtedly satisfy certain emotional and psychological needs:

Illusion of control – rituals restore a sense of order over uncontrollable games.
Managing anxiety – superstitions reduce stress and uncertainty before spins and hands.
Fulfilling a desire to influence odds – techniques provide a perceived, if false, sense of agency.
Adding meaning – imbuing random outcomes with significance through rituals.
Social belonging – sharing and discussing superstitions builds camaraderie.

Because superstitions scratch these psychological itches, they persist even in the absence of evidence. The cold statistics behind games of chance simply can’t compete with superstitions’ emotional allure.

Sheri Gill

Author: John Jackson