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Dice Superstition 

Superstitions have surrounded dice for thousands of years and are still common today.

Are you superstitious?  Do you order your dice games around beliefs that are deeply entrenched in the unknown?  Or maybe you don't think you are but are prepared to believe "there's something in it" and practise the occasional lucky ritual.  Here's a test.  Which of the following is the more likely?

Which is more likely...

  • Throwing ten consecutive 6s with one die.
  • Throwing all 6s with ten dice.

What do you think?  Well, the odds are the same for both options.  A superstitious person would choose the second option as the more likely one.  This is because superstitious people have a poor understanding of odds.

When it comes to a dice game that you are totally caught up in, you may see patterns or coincidences in the dice.  These may have meaning for you, even though random events, at times, cause patterns, and coincidences are common place.  Gamblers who have hard cash rolling on the dice will desperately seek some way of getting an edge, even though the maths that casinos use is infallible.  This gives rise to Craps superstitions which are numerous and common among gamblers.  A professional gambler has no such belief and sees them as a weakness. 

A Craps player's belief that a pair of casino dice shouldn't be exchanged for another set because it will change the odds or bring bad luck is a superstition with no basis in mathematical probability.  Or alternatively a RPG player's belief in swapping dice after a series of lucky throws because they're due for a bad run is another belief that has no scientific basis.  The outcome of the dice is determined by how they are picked up, held, rattled and thrown.  These infinitely variable factors effectively produce a random event (unless you are using controlled throws.)  The dice are inanimate objects with no memory of what was thrown before or what will come.  Swapping dice in no way changes the odds or effects what will be rolled.

It has been shown in experiments that dice players will tend to roll the dice gently when they need low numbers and vigorously when they need high.  This change of behaviour doesn't change the odds one bit.  Players are also likely to feel more confident about the outcome of dice when they are rolling and not someone else.  Again a random event is a random event and it doesn't matter who throws the dice (unless someone is cheating).

Then there are those lucky rituals, lucky dice and lucky charms.  How can any of these alter the outcome of a throw of the dice?  Do you really think some kind of supernatural force takes hold of the dice and physically turns them a particular side up?  And then that this force works because of some inconsequential ritual or charm?  It is a belief in mysticism that just doesn't stand up to analysis.     

So, are you firmly superstitious with dice or one of those people who thinks "there's something in it"?  The most rare of all is the person who believes in fact and harsh reality.  They have no belief in the unknown and see everything in terms of cause and effect.  A coincidence to them is nothing more than that.  But if you're superstitious you'll know there's something to your beliefs because you've seen them at work (and forgot when they didn't.)







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