Luck vs. strategy in gambling: Separating myth from reality

Casino gambling is riddled with myths. Enter any casino on any given day, select a dozen players at random and a good number of them will tell you that they have a system, or they believe in something that gives them an edge. Most myths imply that luck plays the most crucial role in winning. It isn’t true. Whether you are playing baccarat, blackjack, or slots, everything relies on both a little luck and a little strategy. But what is luck in gambling? What is strategy in gambling, and does it help? How does one find the right balance between the two? Can it help you hit the jackpot more often? Keep reading to find out.

As a beginner, the first thing you may want to know is, does luck play a role in helping casino players win? Most of us have an underlying belief that luck is something that some people are born with or something that happens to pleasantly surprise us every so often. Skill, on the other hand, is something we must put in effort to learn if we want to consistently get ahead.

The truth is, for casino gambling, players need to rely on a bit of luck and a bit of skill. Someone may walk into a casino for the first time in their lives and, without knowing anything about the different games, win some money. This is a clear case of gambling luck. Likewise, the opposite happens every day. Experienced gamblers lose money despite bringing their best gambling strategy to every round they bet. This can be discouraging. It is no wonder that so many myths about gambling, winning and losing.

Luck will only get you so far. Sooner or later, it peters out and you start to lose. If you know nothing about the house edge, the return to player (RTP) and how to handle your bankroll, then you’ll start losing to the house before long. The best players know that payouts rely on both luck and strategy. Since there isn’t much they can do to influence their gambling luck, they work on their gambling strategy.

What is luck in gambling?

A rabbit’s foot, a lucky dime, a quick prayer… these are just some of the things that people believe will influence their chance of winning. Visit casinos for long enough and you’ll soon come across someone who seems to rake it in time and time again.

Don’t let it discourage you. In many cases, gamblers may influence their own luck. Studies show that those who think they are likely to win often tend to win more than those who gamble with a more negative frame of mind.

Intuition can also play a big role in whether you are lucky. Those who go with their gut may have better luck than those who rely solely on analytical reasoning. Although scientists aren’t quite sure why, they attribute it to somatic markers, the part of the brain that responds to social emotions and threats. It is faster and more aware of its surroundings than the part of the brain that is responsible for analytical thinking.

Simply put, somatic markers don’t take a minute or two to analyze all the information they have gathered.

They respond instantaneously to the cues around you, having learned to recognize patterns since your childhood, and this is what makes them valuable. You may sense another player is nervous about their bet or hand through small non-verbal cues that you might not even be aware that you are recognizing. Your gut feeling may then lead you to feel more confident about your own chances in the game.

That isn’t to say that your gut is always correct. Rather, it may be correct more times than you think. This can be difficult for pragmatic personalities to digest. They like to be practical. It makes more sense to make observations and draw conclusions after careful thought.

Optimism also matters for those who consider themselves lucky. Research conducted at University College in London, UK showed that gamblers who believed in a hot hand tended to have more wins than those who expected losing streaks. 

It also found that players who won were more likely to win again, and it all came down to a positive frame of mind. A win helped them stay calm and confident. On the other hand, those who lost seemed to become frazzled and momentarily depressed which seemed to affect how they played in the next round.

Luck in gambling is possible, but be careful because sooner or later, it runs out. Remember gambling is a game of probability. It is based on fixed laws, otherwise, it wouldn’t be such a profitable industry.

If you win once or twice because of luck, it doesn’t mean you should completely ignore strategy. In the long term, those who rely on luck end up losing more than those who are strategic about their play.

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What is strategy in gambling?

Betting using a strategy means that you use a structured approach. You know the different games, their return, the house edge and other significant numbers. 

Strategies aren’t foolproof. Remember, all gambling features an element of randomness, so the most carefully considered strategies do not guarantee a win. Rather, they ensure that you have carefully weighed the odds using the information provided to make smart decisions.

Certain strategies are considered helpful:

  • Players shouldn’t risk more than 2% of their bankroll on any given wager. This helps minimize short-term risk, and if you lose, you still have enough to bet on other games. However, this strategy applies only when you have a big bankroll. If you have $100 to spend, for example, it doesn’t make sense to place $2 bets. Even if you win, the payouts are likely to be small. 
  • The Martingale system is another commonly used strategy. Players like it because it is easy, and theoretically it should work. It states that a player ought to double their wagers after every loss. It allows them to win back the loss and earn some profit in the process. Unfortunately, it is a risky proposition. If you lose five times in a row, for example, you’ll end up placing bets that are much larger than your original bet, and it will cause your bankroll to run out before the next win to replenish it. 
  • In baccarat, the banker is the safer bet. At a glance, this may look like sound advice because the banker has a low house edge, but it can lead to losses. People also bet on the banker because it is easy; there is nothing to think about. However, if many hands are dealt for a game, your losses increase exponentially. 
  • Using apps to guide your betting choices is a trend that’s quickly catching on. It is simple; just download the app, feed some information into it and it tells you how to place your bet. This can be a good strategy because it is easy and relies on science for the numbers, but remember gambling is about randomness. You will only win some of the time. 

    Relying on a gambling strategy is a good idea because your bets are guided by careful analysis, but like gambling luck, it will not lead to endless hot streaks. You will win some of the time, but not always.

Luck vs. strategy: Finding the right balance

To the novice, all this may seem confusing. What works – luck or strategy? The smart thing to do is to rely on a bit of both. There are no guarantees, but a mix of luck and strategy seems to give the best results. 

If you want to be a more profitable gambler, you should take some time to study the best strategies and how they work. At the same time, listen to your gut and take a chance once in a while.

Safeguarding your bankroll should be at the top of your mind at all times. Don’t spend more than you intended to because you may lose it all, and it can cause you unnecessary headaches. 

Smart gamblers know to walk away when they win big. The temptation to place more bets may be strong but it can often result in significant losses. If you feel you must go back in, wager only a small portion of your payout. Don’t push your luck or you may end up giving the house all your winnings. 


Gambling is a game of chance. Whether you are a beginner or an experienced gambler, you have no control over what happens once you place a bet. The dice will not go in your favor because you believe in luck, and strategy may not influence the outcome either.  Our experts have a beginners guide to popular gambling strategies which may strengthen your techniques!

There’s no harm in believing in luck. It seems to work for some people. However, it helps to understand different strategies and how they work. Avoid overcomplicating matters; when all is said and done, gambling is supposed to be fun. 

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Author: Darcie

Title: Resorts Live Project Manager Length with RC: 4 months Favorite Casino Game: Jersey Devil Background in iGaming: Primary background is in live streaming. Introduced to iGaming through ResortsLIVE. Location: Based in New Jersey at the Resorts Casino HQ