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Gambling depends on randomness

Mar 30, 2004 1:10 AM

Any legitimate event that you can gamble on must have some sense of unpredictability.

That is that technically there is a risk of loss under all types of conditions. If there is no risk, that is, the outcome is a known certainty, then it is not a true gambling proposition.

In such cases, the event poses as a gambling situation, but in truth it is either fixed or rigged by either of the two sides that participate in the wager, and a particular outcome is inevitable.

This type of advantage can be engineered by one side or the other offering a ridiculous no way to win type of wagering proposition or condition, unperceived by the other side. It is cheating in some manner, by such things as a stacked cooler deck of cards, loaded dice, rigged slots, point-shaving scheme by the participating athletes, rigged races, a payoff conspiracy and more. It appears to be a gable by definitions, but it is not.

Again, all true gambling situations must pose some sense of risk (loss) to both sides, even if the probability of success might somewhat favor one side or the other by the odds proposition. There must be some factor of unpredictability in the outcome. This is best insured by the phenomenon of randomness, that is, the inherent condition of chaotic behavior in the event. That’s where anything can happen and nothing is really for sure. There is a risk, however slim, to either one side or the other.

For instance, in 60,000 rolls of a pair of dice, we can assume by the science of probability that a "7" will appear close to 10,000 times. That is a predictable entity based on the law of large numbers (also known as the law of averages). Yet, on any single next roll of the dice, anything can happen, even if you know that a "7" is most probable.

We cannot escape the idea of random outcome on any true gambling situation. Students of the various modes of gambling try to achieve an edge either by trying to perceive aberrations, patters, trends, cycles or astute money management techniques that can only verify or disprove a gambling system or method by creating a model subject to random results.

At one time, we could make thousands of dice rolls, spins on a toy roulette wheel, deal thousands of card hands or examine thousands of historical results of races or sporting events ”” even recording results observed in a casino. The trouble with these procedures was that technically the sample trial base was really too small to rely that true randomness has been exercised.

Thus, we model a situation nowadays, and subject it to many thousands or millions of computer simulations to get a truer readout if any approach is feasible for a profitable long-term investment. To do this, we depend on a computer program that generates so-called random numbers. Presently, too many researchers believe these high-tech random generators are infallible. But such is not the case, even over long periods, as modern day scientists are now discovering.

New sophisticated tests of randomness now demonstrate that no string of numbers generated by a simple computer process can be truly random. In fact, nearly every string now in use for generating random numbers by computers has some flaw. Often, the flaws are difficult to detect and analysis require sensitive techniques to discern the subtle numerical patterns that may lie hidden in vast arrays of digits.

This fact has been reported in an issue of Science News.

"For any random number generator, there are situations where it gives bad results," reports George Marsaglia and Arif Zeman of Florida State University.

The two professors have developed a new random number generator that is exciting many sophisticated scientists. The program is said not to have recurring cycle in 10 to the 250th power.