We all have our modern superstitions. Some sports fans refuse to shave their beards when their teams on a winning streak. Others haven’t washed their favorite jersey in years fearing that it will wash away their success.
There are also the more traditional superstitions learned from parents or elders:the black cat, throwing salt over a shoulder if you spill it, the bad luck a broken mirror brings and walking under a ladder, to name just a few.
The world of gambling is no different. In fact, gambling superstitions date back thousands of years to ancient times. Here are five casino gambling superstitions and their origins.
Dogs and Gambling
Although they have long been deemed man’s best friend, when it comes to gambling, they are man’s worst enemy. According to tradition, dogs near or around a casino will bring nothing but bad luck.
Furthermore, it is said that if the dog is black, the bad luck is heightened and a player is destined to die if they gamble in the presence of a black dog. Today, some Las Vegas casinos even ban pets on their gambling floors.
The Hunchback Curse
Although hunchbacks are few and far between, it is said that they can bring terrible luck to gamblers and people in general. In ancient Greece and Rome, hunchbacks were depicted in paintings and other art forms as comical creatures who were laughed at by the people.
According to the Hellenistic period historian Barbara Hughes Fowler, hunchbacks invoke the “evil eye” curse which unleashes their wrath on those who laugh at them. Scary stuff for a grinder.
Books Are Bad?
Yes, it is true that gaining knowledge on any subject requires one to put their face in a book. However, if you are about to go play a session at your local poker room, think again.
According to ancient Chinese tradition, reading before you gamble on anything is nothing but bad luck. This is ultimately because the Chinese word for “book” (shū) and “lose” (shīqù) are very similar in pronunciation.
Ditch The Hygiene
According to Indian culture, maintaining hygiene is a bad omen for gamblers. Instead, if you are going to gamble, be sure to stay away from all forms of hygiene, as washing your body will wash away any good luck that was lingering around you.
So it seems like at least one superstition still widely held today has roots in ancient culture.
The Gambler’s Fallacy
One of the more common superstitions poker players, and gamblers in general, have is the idea that losing a bunch of hands in a row can only mean you are due for a win. This idea can also be extended to events occurring in someone’s life.
If someone is facing some hardship in life, it is a common idea to believe that things can only get better. In fact, Phil Galfond wrote a Twitter thread earlier this year discussing the Gambler’s Fallacy and being “due” for a win.
5/ It IS cool to joke about being superstitious, though!
“Whoa whoa – don’t push me the chips before the river hits. Come on, man!”
Everyone knows you’re half-serious, but you don’t ever say it with a straight face.
— Phil Galfond (@PhilGalfond) July 10, 2021
In it, he discusses how his friend believed this same idea and it kept him in good spirits while on a downswing or playing bad. He goes on to talk about how the younger generation of poker players and gamblers see those who hold superstitions as less cerebral than them and are more worried about ranges, bet sizing and blockers.
Everybody has their superstitions, and whether they’re traditional or unique to them it’s fun to see how people interpret luck and winning.
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