5 mistakes to avoid when gambling

The 5 Mistakes To Avoid Doing When You’re Betting

Jun 28, 2023
Written by Philippe
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The most common mistakes bettors make…and bookmakers exploit

It’s no news to gamblers that betting works on the premise that though Lady Lucks might smile upon you on a lucky day, overall the house always wins. This hasn’t stopped many players from trying their luck, for the thrill of the game and the possibility that today might be their day, and indeed new millionaires are regularly crowned by online casinos, the same way sports bettors pick up their winnings every time a match goes their way. However, when it comes to betting, it’s essential to be aware of the tactics that bookmakers and sometimes casinos commonly employ to take advantage of unsuspecting gamblers.

By understanding these tactics, you can make more informed decisions and protect yourself from falling into their traps. In this article, we want to provide you with the essential knowledge on what to avoid when engaging in betting, so we’ve made a list of the 5 mistakes bookmakers are trying to get you to make.

If you are new to betting, and even if you aren’t, give this a read to make sure you’re not unknowingly falling into these traps.

1Making bets with lots of conditions
2Thinking Past Outcomes Do Not Influence the Future
3Thinking some choices you make can affect luck
4Getting carried away by Flashing Lights and Music
5Believing that Almost Winning gets you closer to victory

If you follow these steps, it should help you place bets more intelligently, without making the mistakes bookmakers are trying to get you to make:

1. The Illusion of Specificity

Avoid making bets with lots of conditions 

Example: Imagine a proposition bet on a specific player scoring a hat-trick in a football match, or a first goal being scored by a certain player in a certain amount of time. While it may appear exciting, the odds of such a precise outcome are often stacked against you. 

Longer and more specific betting terms can be deceiving. Although odds may be presented as 10-1, the actual probability of winning could be as low as 50-1. Avoid placing excessive confidence in highly specific bets that seem enticing at first glance.

Tip: Opting for broader bets with higher chances of success may be a wiser choice.

2. The Betting Fallacy

Remember that Past Outcomes Do Not Influence the Future

Example: Let’s say the roulette wheel has landed on red for the past five spins. Some may be tempted to bet on black, assuming that a red streak must end soon. However, the probability of the next spin landing on black remains the same as any other spin – approximately 47.4% for European roulette.

Casinos may provide statistics on previous outcomes to create the illusion that future results can be predicted. However, in games of chance like roulette, each turn is independent, and past numbers hold no sway over future spins. Do not fall into the trap of believing that previous results have any bearing on future ones.

Tip: Every time you place a bet in a game of luck, imagine it’s the first time you or anyone else plays this game. 

Roulette wheel

3. Psychology and the Illusion of Control/Agency

Remember that luck is random

Example: Have you ever been tempted to roll the dice harder when trying to get a bigger number, and softly to get a small number? Wouldn’t you feel more “lucky” if you buy the ticket with your favourite football player when betting on your team? Slot machines can give players the impression of control by allowing them to stop the spin. However, the stopping point is predetermined and occurs randomly, just like when the machine stops on its own. 

The first one to trick us into thinking we have agency over things we can’t control is our minds; casinos and bookmakers only play on this to deepen this illusion. Bookmakers may offer choices like selecting a particular player on a ticket which make you think you’ve got more influence over the outcome of your bet. In reality, the choices you make on actions you can control do not influence the outcomes which you can’t control, that come after these active choice. The belief that exerting control over some things increases the chances of winning is a fallacy.

Tip: You can’t control your luck! Stay alert on what you can control (your purchase), and what you can’t control (the outcome of a game).

4. Deceptive Signals

Don’t get carried away by Flashing Lights and Music

Example: Winning a small amount after losing more money may trigger sounds of celebration, happy music and flashing lights. This creates the false perception of a victory, potentially leading players to continue betting in pursuit of more wins. 

Casinos employ visual and auditory stimuli, such as flashing lights and catchy music, to create an atmosphere of excitement and anticipation. These elements can manipulate gamblers into believing they are winning, even when they are not.

Tip: Be cautious and remember that these sensory cues are carefully designed to make you feel like a winner, even if you are losing.

Funky Time Live Casino Game

5. “Near Misses” and Losses

Remember that Almost Winning doesn’t get you closer to victory

Example: Picture a slot machine showing two identical symbols on the first two reels, followed by a different symbol on the third reel, just one position away from a winning combination. Maybe you saw this symbol go by in slow motion, and just miss the target. This near miss may evoke a feeling of anticipation and lead players to continue playing, hoping to achieve a win and satisfy the previous frustration.

Casinos often exploit the psychology of near misses to keep players engaged with the allure of having almost won, but not quite. Near misses, where players narrowly miss a win, can create a sense of excitement and the false belief that winning the big jackpot is just within reach. However, near misses are no closer to winning than clear-cut losses. 

Tip: Remember: Near wins and losses are both the same outcome: a loss.


To navigate the world of betting successfully, it’s crucial to be aware of the tactics employed by bookmakers and casinos. Whilst betting and playing online casino games is fun, keep a clear head. Avoid falling into the traps of longer bets that offer a false sense of specificity, the betting fallacy that past outcomes influence future results, the illusion of control or agency, deceptive sensory cues like flashing lights and music, and the allure of near misses. By staying informed and making rational choices, you can enhance your betting experience and protect yourself from these common pitfalls. You’ll get more control over your mind and your earnings, and know how to celebrate wins and better deal with losses.

Looking to read more about gambling psychology and these common mistakes? Rob Davies’s book Jackpot will explain everything in detail.

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One response to “The 5 Mistakes To Avoid Doing When You’re Betting”

  1. Rafael Borrás says:

    Good information. Thanks!

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Common questions about The 5 Mistakes To Avoid Doing When You’re Betting
What's the betting fallacy?
The impression that past results (for example, rolling 2 sixes in a row) will affect future outcomes (so you think it's less likely to get another 6 this time round). This is an illusion, as in reality the probability stays random!
What are the main pitfalls to avoid when betting?
1. Avoid falling into the traps of longer bets that offer a false sense of specificity 2. Don't believe that past outcomes influence future results 3. Remember that some active choices you make don't influence random outcomes 4. Don't get carried away by flashing lights and music 5. Just because you almost won doesn't make you closer to the actual win than if you'd lost
Are slot machines you can choose when to stop better?
Your chances of winning will be the same on slot machines that you can stop than on slot machines that stop on their own.
What's the probability of a roulette spin landing on black?
Approximately 47.4%