All forms of gambling involve luck to some degree, and many gamblers will go to great lengths to make sure that luck is on their side. Some are completely open about their superstitions, while some would never admit to being influenced by such things, but it is almost certain that a sizable percentage of gamblers are superstitious in one way or another.
Superstitions are particularly common among casino players, perhaps due to the fact that there is more luck involved in casino games than in many other forms of gambling. However irrational it may seem that something entirely unrelated to actually playing could have any kind of impact on whether players get lucky or not, the fact is that many people believe on some level that their superstitions will genuinely change their luck one way or another.
In this article we look at some of the most popular superstitions held by casino players.
13 is widely considered to be a very unlucky number in general, not just in gambling. There are several examples of this, such as Friday the 13th being believed to be an unlucky day. Indeed, fear of the number 13 is a recognized phobia (Triskaidekaphobia).
In casino terms, players will often avoid anything to do with the number 13. It would be no surprise, for example, if 13 was the least bet on number at roulette. The casinos themselves are very aware of this superstition, and it is not uncommon for large casinos to miss out 13 when labeling their floors by jumping straight from 12 to 14.
On the other hand, 7 is considered by many to be a very lucky number. This is perhaps the reason why so many slot machines award the jackpot for consecutive 7 symbols on a payline.
It is worth noting that lucky and unlucky numbers are very much a cultural thing. A lucky number in one culture may well be an unlucky number in another culture, and vice versa.
Just like numbers, colors are often considered to be signs of good or bad luck. Many believe black to be bad luck, for example, perhaps because of its close association with death. By contrast, red is often considered to be a very lucky color. This is particularly true in Chinese culture, and many Chinese gamblers make sure to wear red whenever they are gambling.
A lot of gamblers will have lucky charms that they believe bring them good fortune. These can come in all kinds of different forms, with particularly popular ones being the rabbit foot, the horseshoe, and the four-leaved clover. It's not uncommon for casino players to have a lucky item of clothing that they always wear when gambling, or even a lucky companion that they like to have present.
It is quite common for casino players to have a routine that they always follow to help bring them luck. This usually involves some kind of physical action before a hand is dealt, or a roulette wheel spun, or the dice rolled. Some popular examples are as follows.
A widely held gambling superstition is that you should never count your money or chips when playing. This applies to poker as well as casino games. The origin of this superstition is not entirely clear, but it was certainly reinforced by the famous Kenny Rogers song "The Gambler". Among several pieces of advice dispensed in this song is the following lyric.
"You never count your money when you're sitting at the table. There'll be time enough for counting when the dealing's done."
This is a slightly more obscure superstition, but a reasonably popular one nonetheless. Some gamblers believe that it's unlucky to enter a casino by the front entrance, as the bad luck of those leaving (presumably having lost their money) could rub off.
Related to this superstition was the dislike, particularly among Chinese gamblers, of a previous entrance to the MGM Grand. This used to be a large lion's mouth, which was considered very unlucky and akin to being eaten live. Thankfully for those that didn't like it, it was replaced in 1998.
Another fairly obscure superstition, this one is common among American gamblers visiting Las Vegas. The $50 bill is considered very unlucky in the casino, and players have been known to refuse them as payment when exchanging chips. This has its roots in the time when Las Vegas was largely under mob rule, and the legend is that mobsters would often tuck $50 bills inside the jackets of victims they buried in the desert.