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Gambling Conceit

Gambler’s conceit is the fallacy described by behavioral economist David J. Ewing, where a gambler believes they will be able to stop a risky behavior while still engaging in it. This belief frequently operates during games of chance, such as casino games. The gambler believes they will be a net winner at the game, and thus able to avoid going broke by exerting the self-control necessary to stop playing while still ahead in winnings. This is often expressed as -I’ll quit when I’m ahead.

Quitting while ahead is unlikely though, since a gambler who is winning has little incentive to do so, and is in fact rewarded for continuing to do so by their winning. Once in the throes of a winning streak the individual may even become convinced that it is their skill, rather than blind chance, causing their winnings, or good luck on their side, and thus it seems especially senseless to stop while continuing to win.

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