Gambling superstitions from around the world
We’ve already taken you through some of the world’s most popular lucky charms – totems and talismans thought to bring good luck not just in gambling, but in life as well. If you’re still looking for a little more help though, we’ve got just what you need – a selection of superstitions from around the world designed to help you change your fortunes and make every bet a (hopefully) winning one.
When it comes to gambling superstitions, China has the rest of the world beat. We’ve already mentioned how wearing red (and particularly red underwear) can help bring you luck at the gaming tables. But there’s a lot more to take on board when it comes to winning, like:
Playing a numbers game. We don’t necessarily mean Craps or Roulette, we mean looking out for actual numbers when gambling. Firstly, and most importantly, always stay away from the number 4, as it sounds like ‘die’ in Cantonese – not something you want to be doing! However, the number 8 is exactly what you want, as it sounds like the word for ‘prosperity’. Sign us up! You might want to look out for the numbers 3, 6 and 9 as well, as these can also be lucky when used in combination with an 8. Chinese numerology can become complicated, but if you remember these basic rules, you’ll be on the right side of numeric superstitions.
Creating positive energy. You’ve no doubt heard of feng shui – using energy forces to create a harmonious environment within your home, and bring wealth, luck, and opportunity your way. The Chinese have extended this concept even further though, avoiding the main entrance of casinos due to them apparently having been cursed by feng shui masters. So the next time you go to a land-based casino, make sure to look for a side entrance.
Looking to a higher power. Chinese gamblers have specific gods they pray to in order to increase their chances of winning – so why not follow their example and leave your fate in the hands of the gods? Usually saying a prayer and making an offering is encouraged before going to a casino or betting on the lottery – as is giving thanks should any winnings come your way. It’s not foolproof because the gods could just as easily say no… but do you want to take that chance?
No touching. As in shoulders, because it’s generally considered not just to be bad luck, but pretty rude as well. And, strangely, no mentioning of books either, as the Chinese word for ‘book’ is very similar to the word for ‘lose’. So, no touching shoulders, no talking about books, and lastly, no hanky panky either – because the Chinese believe that if you want to get lucky at the tables, you have to refrain from ‘getting lucky’ the night before. You heard it here first.
China isn’t alone in having its own unique gambling superstitions – the United States is just as eager to get in on the game.
Watch where you walk. Turns out that Americans feel just as dodgy about walking through the main entrance of a casino as the Chinese – which the MGM casino in Las Vegas found out when it designed its entrance in the shape of a lion. Visitors to the casino felt doubly cursed, first by having to walk in through the main entrance, and then by having that entrance shaped like the mouth of a beast. Needless to say the design was soon scrapped.
Acceptance denied. Nothing wrong with having a $50 bill right? That is, unless you’ve been paid with one at a casino. According to urban legend, mobsters used to stick $50 bills into the pockets of their victims, which is why today American gamblers often refuse to accept the same bills when being paid out at casinos.
Count your money… but also don’t. It’s important to count your money and keep an eye on your bankroll, but don’t count your money while you’re sitting at a table, as it’s thought to bring bad luck. Kenny Rogers even wrote a song about it: “You never count your money when you’re sitting at the table, there’ll be time enough for counting when the dealing’s done.” Listen to Kenny and count your money someplace else.
Go from 12 to 14. And by that we mean skip 13, as Western culture is famed for thinking of 13 as an unlucky number – so much so that many hotels and casino resorts avoid having a 13th floor altogether. Whether the fear comes from there being 13 people present in Da Vinci’s painting of The Last Supper, or another reason that’s been lost in the annals of time, avoiding the number 13 is a common pastime for superstitious people and gamblers alike. In fact there’s even a name for it – triskaidekaphobia, the fear of the number 13. Of course there’s a flip side to this, and that’s the number 7, thought to be every bit as lucky as 13 is unlucky. Try it for yourself and see if 7 takes you to the top!
Dress for success. Turns out it’s not just temples, beaches and delicious food that Thailand’s known for – it’s become famous for its dress sense as well, specifically as it relates to gambling. Place your bets in Thailand and you could find yourself face-to-face with local gamblers wearing ‘Palad Khik’ necklaces – or penis medallions. Yes, you read that correctly. Translated as ‘honourable surrogate penis’, the necklace is thought to bring good luck in gambling and with the ladies too. Want to take one for a test run?
Let it go. Your personal grooming that is – at least, if you’re looking to take a leaf out of India’s book. With a fairly complex string of superstitions regarding hygiene, Indian gamblers believe it’s bad luck to shave on Tuesdays, cut your nails on Tuesdays and Saturdays, and wash your hair on Thursdays. We don’t know if there’s any truth to the idea, but one thing’s for sure, if you follow this lead you’re sure to save on razor blades and shampoo!