Gamblers are known as some of the most superstitious people on the planet, but where did their catalogue of superstitions come from? While critics accuse superstitious gamblers of engaging in selective memory loss, carefully filtering out the occasions when their beliefs have let them down, some of these superstitions have a surprisingly solid grounding in rational thought. Let’s take a look at some of the things gamblers believe bring good and bad luck.
Some things are considered bad luck and should be avoided by all superstitious gamblers. Here is a list of the top casino taboos:
While 13 is the most famously 'unlucky' number in western culture, things get a little more crowded if you take other cultures' superstitions on board. In China, 4 is the unluckiest number, because it symbolises the word for 'death' in Chinese. Any mention of 'books' around the table will be highly unwelcome for a similar reason – it sounds too much like 'lose'. It's not all negative, though, as 'eight' sounds like 'prosperity', making it a safer bet for superstitious players.
You may cross your fingers for good luck but to cross your legs while placing a bet is considered to be 'crossing out' your good luck. Strange as it may sound, a lot of people believe it!
A widely held gambling superstition is that you should never count your money or chips when playing. As Kenny Rogers famously sang in 'The Gambler', "there'll be time enough for counting, when the dealing's done". This is another superstition that has a little more grounding in reasonable behaviour; counting your money before the game is over, or even immediately afterwards, is fairly considered to be in extremely bad taste. Not only is it a little insensitive to your fellow gamblers, it also falls in line with the wider superstition that pride comes before a fall. Wait until you're well outside the casino, ideally all the way home, before totting up your night's earnings – that way, you're more likely to keep hold of them.
Sounds crazy but it has its fans! Some gamblers believe that it's unlucky to enter a casino by the front entrance because you will come into contact with the bad luck of anyone who is leaving because they have been on a losing streak.
Gamblers will cling hard to anything they believe brings luck or enhances their chances of success. Here are three of the most popular good luck beliefs.
In 1955's Guys and Dolls, Marlon Brando pleads with the proverbial Lady Luck not to "wander all over the room and blow on some other guy's dice". Sixty years later, the belief that blowing on your dice brings good luck has become so ingrained that it's not uncommon to see it happen in a family game of Monopoly, but unlike most superstitions, it might have a basis in practicality. It's been suggested that certain unscrupulous gamblers would coat one side of their dice in a sticky substance that could be activated by moisture. Blowing on the dice before rolling was a way to ensure that each die would land as required. Given the high risk of the dice sticking to debris or other objects on the table, it was never a hugely popular cheat, so don't be too quick to accuse a modern gambler who blows on his dice for luck. He's probably just superstitious.
While many gamblers have lucky clothes (2005 World Series Poker runner-up Steve Dannenmann wore the same shirt and cap every day of the seven-day tournament), this sartorial superstition has a little more longevity behind it. Red is a hugely significant colour in China, representing, among other things, wealth, luck and joy. This makes it a recurring theme at weddings, used for everything from the bride's dress to the envelopes of money handed out, but has, unsurprisingly, also been enthusiastically adopted by gamblers. Some believe that the red item must be received as a gift, not bought, so it may be time to start dropping a few hints to your loved ones.
Lucky charms are a way of life for some people and gamblers are not immune to them either! From clothing items to jewellery and rings, many gamblers believe something that brought them luck in the past needs to be ever-present when they walk into a casino. 10-time WSOP bracelet winner Johnny Chan famously brings an orange to every poker game he plays!
If you think superstition has nothing to do with it, then you can skip the real-life casino floor and play online at NetBet Casino.
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