“We’re definitely due here mate.”

That saying, or words to the same effect, is used on racetracks and TAB’s every day of the year. It normally comes from a punter who has backed a handful of losers in a row, which leads him to mistakenly believe that somehow this means that his next bet is more likely to win. Unfortunately there is no sound logical or mathematical reason behind such a statement, rather it’s more likely the hopes of a desperate punter.

In the short-term, being ‘due’ means nothing. However over a larger sample size there is likely to be a ‘reversion to the mean’. I’ll use a coin toss once again as a demonstration. If you tossed 10 heads in a row, the chance of the next toss being another head is 50%. Nothing more nothing less, despite the fact tails backers would believe they are due. However if you had 10,000 tosses and say 55% came up heads, you would reasonably expect that over the next 10,000 tosses there would be a reversion to the mean, because long term you will get 50% heads and 50% tails. Relate that back to horse racing and although you might have backed 10 straight losers and believe that you’re ‘due’ since you normally have a strike-rate of about 30%, this concept doesn’t apply in the short term.

However if you’d won only 10% of your bets for the last 3 months, you could reasonably expect that your next 3 months would see a far better strike-rate (possibly exceeding 30%) as you trend back towards your long-term average. Hope is not a strategy. And relying on the belief that you’re ‘due’ is not sensible for punters, only pregnant ladies.