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Problem Gambling and Cognitive Distortions

Gambling distortions in Problem Gamblers

Many studies have supported the presence of distorted gambling amongst problem gamblers.

Below we have listed some of the more common cognitive distortions (thinking errors) that act to maintain gambling, even when the negative consequences of gambling are becoming apparent.

We will over the next couple of days introduce one cognitive distortion every day.

In Cognitive Behaviour therapy these distortions are challenged and you will learn how to think differently about your chances of winning.


Gambler’s fallacy   The idea that he gambler’s fallacy refers to the misconception that the probability of occurrence of an event or outcome is lowered when that event/outcome has already just occurred.

Suppose you were rolling the dice., which sequence is more likely to occur?


6, 6, 6, 6, 6

Or 3, 4, 5, 5, 3

Some gamblers believe that the first sequence (6 times 6) is more likely. This is however not true. Each rolling of the dice is an independent event and the outcome of one throw has nothing to do with the next. Therefore both sequences are equally likely to take place.


Exploring the probability further:

If you roll one dice the chances of getting a number 6 is 1/.6 since there are 6 sides to the dice

For each time you roll the dice the probability of rolling another 6 is exactly the same. 1/6.

It is tempting to believe that a sequence of other numbers would make a number 6 ‘due’ however with each roll of the dice the probability of an event is independent of from the probability of the next event.

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