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Best of John G. Brokopp

Gaming Guru

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Does "Empirical Knowledge" Apply to Gambling?

30 August 1999

There's a school of philosophy known as "empiricism". The dictionary defines empiricism thusly: Experimental method; search for knowledge by observation and experiment; a disregarding of scientific methods and relying solely on experience.

Do the principles of empiricism apply to gambling? There's a widely circulated school of thought that says they don't, but this columnist is a firm believer that they in fact do.

As with all empirical knowledge, there's no way to prove my findings. As a matter of fact, the unwavering laws of mathematical probability debunk the application of empiricism to gambling.

For example, some experts will tell you that playing blackjack at the same table with someone who uses poor strategy has no bearing whatsoever on your individual game. Those same experts will also tell you that if someone sits down at your table in the middle of a shoe, the ensuing disruption of the flow of cards will not have affect on whether you win or lose.

I don't know about you, but almost every time a situation such as those described above develops at a table I'm playing, the cards mysteriously "go south"! There's no logical reason for it to happen that way. It just does. Empirical Knowledge? Perhaps.

Or how about when you're playing craps? Reason tells you there is no such phenomenon as a hot table or a cold table, or a bad shooter or a good shooter. But practical experience tells you that there is!

The dice have no memory, and each roll is completely independent of the preceding one, yet any seasoned craps player is aware of the empirical aspects of the game.

Approaching your gaming ventures strictly from a standpoint of mathematics and probability may be the most sensible means of attack, but give me a little empirical knowledge at the tables and gaming really becomes a lot more fun and much more of a challenge!

John G. Brokopp

John G. Brokopp's gaming column appears in Chicago Sun Times (Chicago, Illinois), The Times (Northwest Indiana), The Quad City Times (Davenport, Iowa), The Courier News (Elgin, Illinois), The Gazette (Southwest Suburban Chicago) and Senior Wire (Denver, CO). He's also a regular contributor to The Colorado Gambler, Midwest Gaming & Travel, Casino Player and Strictly Slots. John possesses 28 years of experience as a professional handicapper, publicist, freelance writer, and casino gaming correspondent. He is also the author of two very popular books, The Insider’s Guide to Internet Gambling and Thrifty Gambling.

Books by John G. Brokopp:

> More Books By John G. Brokopp

John G. Brokopp
John G. Brokopp's gaming column appears in Chicago Sun Times (Chicago, Illinois), The Times (Northwest Indiana), The Quad City Times (Davenport, Iowa), The Courier News (Elgin, Illinois), The Gazette (Southwest Suburban Chicago) and Senior Wire (Denver, CO). He's also a regular contributor to The Colorado Gambler, Midwest Gaming & Travel, Casino Player and Strictly Slots. John possesses 28 years of experience as a professional handicapper, publicist, freelance writer, and casino gaming correspondent. He is also the author of two very popular books, The Insider’s Guide to Internet Gambling and Thrifty Gambling.

Books by John G. Brokopp:

> More Books By John G. Brokopp