Casino Gambling and Superstitions

By Bill Burton

Two gamblers were talking. One turned to the other and asked, “Are you superstitious?”
His friend replied, “I used to be but then I heard it was unlucky so I stopped.”

Gamblers are probably the most superstitious people and they will do anything to improve their chances of winning. Whether it is carrying a lucky charm or performing some sort of ritual before or during their gambling sessions they will try a variety of things to influence lady luck to smile on them. Psychologists have done many studies into the relationship between gambling and superstitions.

The conclusions of several of these studies show that superstitions can develop in many gamblers and become a basis for future gambling sessions. If the player has won he looks at what transpired during the winning session. This is where a player may decide that an article of clothing or some other activity was “responsible” for the good fortune. Likewise if a player loses he will look to see what may have caused his misfortune. If a player has one or two losing sessions with a particular dealer, they may develop a feeling that the dealer is unlucky and unbeatable.

Not all superstitions are developed by personal observations and many gamblers just buy into the existing beliefs that have been passed down through the ages. They may choose to believe that something is unlucky and avoid it as to not tempt fate.  Others may test a superstition only to discover a self fulfilling a prophecy with their actions. If you think it is unlucky to sit with your legs crossed while playing poker and you do it you may just lose because subconsciously you expect to lose. If you do lose it will only reinforce the belief.

Many gamblers have what I like to refer to as “selective amnesia.” We only remember those events that correspond to our own personal beliefs. That however does not stop us from believing some of the popular gambling superstitions. The following are a few of the most common gambling superstitions.

Popular Gambling Superstitions

Many gamblers feel that it is unlucky to enter a casino through the main entrance. Years ago the MGM in Las Vegas was themed after the MGM film studios and the main entrance was through the mouth of the large MGM lion. Many superstitious players would not enter the casino by going into the mouth of the lion. They considered it a double curse to walk into the mouth of the beast along with the fact that it was the main entrance to the casino.

Fifty dollar bills are unlucky. Many gamblers will not accept being paid with a $50 bill. They are called frogs. There are several casinos I have visited that do not give out $50 from the cage when players cash in the chips. Many of the casinos that do use $50 bill often find that gamblers will refuse them as payment when they are cashing in their chips. Some people also regard the two dollar bill as unlucky and this might explain why the numerous attempts to bring them back into general circulation have failed.

Never count your money while you are playing is a common belief. Kenny Rogers even immortalized this concept in his song the Gambler when he sang. “You never count your money when you sitting at the table, there’ll be time of enough for counting when the dealings done.”

That brings up another superstition that singing or whistling while you are gambling is bad luck.

If someone is whistling past the graveyard, they are trying to remain cheerful in difficult circumstances so perhaps this has carried over into the thinking that it should not be done while gambling.

You should wear red clothing while gambling is an Asian superstition that has been popular in the film Kung Fu Mahjong. Many players have a favorite color that they will wear while they gamble.

Don’t cross your legs while playing or you will “cross out your good luck”. (This could explain why they make those seats so close to the slot machines. I never have room to cross my  legs even if I was not afraid it would bring me bad luck.)

Harmless Fun

Even though we claim not to be, most of us have one or two superstitions we subscribe to while gambling.  Eighty percent of the gamblers who responded to a survey said that they believed in superstitions or carried out some sort of lucky ritual while gambling. As long as you don’t let your superstitions control you, believing in something that will bring you good luck can actually be beneficial. If you feel lucky you will be happy and have a more enjoyable time while you play.

Until Next time remember:

Luck comes and goes…..Knowledge Stays Forever.

Bill Burton is is the author of “1000 Best Casino Gambling Secrets” and “Get the Edge at Low Limit Texas Hold’em” available online at www.billburton.com. He an instructor for Golden Touch Craps: www.thecrapsclub.com

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