An Overview of Casino Superstitions
Gambling superstitions have been around as long as gambling itself. From wearing a lucky shirt or red underwear to the casino to only betting on slots on a Tuesday, gamblers around the world have developed a strange set of rituals that they believe will help them in the long run.
Of course, betting and casino superstitions are as crazy as putting all your bankroll on 36 Red and crossing your fingers. Here are some of the ways that players change their habits to bring good or bad luck.
Bad Luck Casino Superstitions
First, let’s start with some gambling superstitions that supposedly bring bad luck. Not all these beliefs are held in every part of the world, and local culture can play a big part. Do you ever worry about having itchy hands?
1. Unlucky 13 and 4
Every country around the world has its own unlucky numbers. In Western culture, for instance, Friday the 13th is seen as a day for misfortune and death. And some airlines won’t have a 13th row on their planes and many building don’t have a 13th floor.
Similarly, on the casino floor 13 is supposed to bring bad luck. Gamblers will avoid it in roulette and place their chips on 14 or 15 instead.
In China, meanwhile, the number 4 is considered unlucky. Some office blocks, for example, avoid having a 4th floor.
So, what’s the big problem with 4? In Mandarin, the word for “four” – “Si” – sounds like the word for death – “Siwang.”
2. Crossing Your Legs
Physical tics and rituals are popular with gamblers wanting to bring luck at the table. One of the oddest casino superstitions is that crossing your legs brings bad fortune.
The reasons for this peculiar faux pas being bad luck aren’t known, unless one particularly unlucky gambler lost a fortune while relaxing at the table. That said, with legs uncrossed, the player is more alert and focused on the job in hand.
3. Counting Your Money at the Table
This is one of the most popular gambling superstitions. It stems from the early road gamblers who would never count their chip stacks until the end of a poker game. The superstition has moved to the casino where it’s considered bad luck to count chips during a big blackjack session.
4. Using the Casino Front Entrance
This is a common gambling superstition among some Asian gamblers. The rear entrance is preferred, and the ritual stretches back to the 1990s when the MGM Grand redesigned its famous lion’s mouth entrance.
Similar gambling superstitions about architecture are more recent. The Hippodrome Casino in London, England, had to redesign its new VIP hall as the layout was considered not to have the required “feng shui.” It was completely reimagined for the benefit of the well-heeled, and very superstitious, clientele.
5. Itchy Hands
In some European countries, having itchy hands is said to bring bad luck. Either that, or the gambler is getting sweaty from a particularly stressful session at the craps table. However, in other countries like Serbia, having itchy hands is seen as a good omen.
The belief may originate from an ancient superstition that an itchy left palm meant you were about to lose money. Look out for an itchy right palm, however: It could be a sign that you’re about to hit the jackpot.
6. Using $50 Bills
Receiving $50 bills is seen as unlucky by some gamblers. Much of the counterfeit cash seen in the U.S. comes in the form of $50 bills, and sometimes they are just too hard to break when you visit the store.
However, the original reason for avoiding $50 bills may have a basis in U.S. Mafia history. The Mob would bury their victims in the deserts of Nevada with $50 bills in their jackpot pockets. That’s got to be one of the unluckiest outcomes for any hapless gambler.
7. Lending Money to Another Player
If you want bring bad gambling luck on yourself, lend cash to another player. As well as the financial considerations, lending money to other gamblers is thought to adversely affect your own games.
8. Whistling While Playing
Whistling is seen as one of the more unusual casino superstitions. While crossing fingers or touching wood brings good luck, making noises at the table is believed to bring bad luck for the gambler.
The origins are not 100% certain, but could be related to British sailors whose whistling was thought to bring strong winds. Today, the only thing whistling is likely to bring in the casino is a few stern glances from fellow players.
Good Luck Casino Superstitions
We’ve covered what might bring a superstitious gambler bad luck on the casino floor, but what about good luck? From good luck charms such as a lucky rabbit's foot to wearing the right clothes and only betting during a full moon, what casino superstitions do players have?
1. Blowing on Dice
Blowing on craps dice to bring good fortune has been popular since Marlon Brando made the suggestion in “Guys and Dolls.”
That’s not such a hot prospect in 2020 with COVID-19 considerations. But when playing at online casinos, gamblers can tap into this superstitious belief and give their monitors a little blow if they want to affect the virtual roll of the dice in craps.
Dice are treated seriously in casino gambling. In most casino towns in the U.S., dice are kept locked up until they’re needed at the tables. Regular tests include checking for defects or marks that could affect the roll of the dice. In addition, special micrometers are used to ensure the dimensions are uniform.
Some dice cheats used to spread adhesive on one side of the die. By blowing on it, it would moisten the adhesive to affect where it landed. However, with such stringent checks made on the dice, cheating is much easier to spot.
2. Wearing Red at a Casino
Red is seen as a lucky color, especially in Asia where it’s worn by the bride on her wedding day. Red is also believed to bring wealth and prosperity. Gamblers in China will often wear red shoes, a red shirt and even, yes, red underwear to tap into this superstitious belief.
Betting on red is also one of the more popular casino superstitions. Roulette players will bet more on red numbers than black, even though the statistical chances of hitting either color is the same.
3. Lucky Charms for Gambling
Poker players are known for their good luck charms when gambling. They might have a familiar card protector or favorite cap that reminds them of a big tournament they’ve won. Long-time pro Johnny Chan won the World Series of Poker with a Jaffa orange by his chips on the poker table, while Irish player Andy Black displays a bronze card protector every time he plays.
In the casino, a gambling lucky charm can be anything from a ring or piece of jewelry to something more common like a lucky rabbit's foot or four-leaf clover pendant. It might not bring good luck, but if the player happens to win big while they have it, it’s proof enough!
And the gambling superstitions aren’t just confined to casino games. In a recent UK study, around 30% of bingo players admitted to having a lucky dauber, while 4% admitted bringing along a lucky friend on nights out.
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4. Sitting or Standing While Gambling
While crossing your legs is thought by some to bring bad luck, sitting or standing is seen to bring good luck. Your physical demeanor has no bearing on whether you win or lose, but psychologically it can mean a lot for gamblers.
Most of the time, how you sit or stand can be traced back to when you had a big win. You may have hit a 20-spin winning run at roulette while sitting down. Therefore, you develop a belief that you must always sit down in order to keep on winning.
Whether you sit or stand is one of the biggest gambler’s fallacies: It’s linked to the belief that your actions can affect whether you go on a hot or cold streak. If you were winning while standing up at a slot machine, why break the habit?
5. Crossing Fingers and Other Rituals
As well as sitting down or standing, gamblers develop casino superstitions in other physical ways. It can be anything from closing your eyes before the roulette wheel stops, shouting out the numbers, or tapping the slot machine as the reels spin.
Online casino players, meanwhile, might develop their own personal rituals. It might involve covering the monitor during a roulette spin or chanting a good luck mantra while the reels spin in online slots.
Essentially, gambling superstitions such as crossing fingers or tapping the screens stem from players believing there is a connection between the games and their actions. They don’t want to admit that casino games are games of chance. And by having rituals, they can better cope with the notion that every casino game is random.
6. Unlucky in Love, Lucky in Gambling
There’s a common proverb that says if you’re lucky in gambling, you’ll be a loser in love. The Germans have a similar saying (“Gluck im spiel, pech in der liebe”).
The idea is that to be a good gambler you must either sacrifice personal relationships or be awful at understanding the emotional needs of other people.
This gambling superstition has very little evidence to back it up. Indeed, some of the biggest poker players in the world are happily married.
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