by Oana Mihalache
Gambling is sometimes a “strategy game”, other times one of chance, but most of the times a good gambler knows that you also need precaution in order to win. It is not a rare encounter, especially in the Asian countries, for gamblers to believe in warning signs and fateful numbers. Directly said, they are superstitious. Casinos are well aware of that and they use this information for their own benefit. Read along to find out another secret from the world of casinos: superstitions in gambling.
If someone plays slots and wins many times in a row, only to come to realize that every time s/he wore the same T-shirt, watch or bracelet, that particular object could become the “talisman” of that player. Surpassing the idea of a lucky amulet, such an object can inspire trust in a player and quickly become an accessory able to define the player or to individualize him. Some superstitions go back to decades in time, while some have only recently developed.
According to a study conducted by Study of Public Opinion Research, 54% of adults believe in at least one common superstition. When it comes to gamblers, these beliefs are even more often encountered. Casino Inside will make a short incursion in the world of gambling superstitions and will shortly describe the most common ones.
Red color + control over the opponent = gamblers’ luck in China
One of the oldest superstitions for gamblers is carrying a rabbit foot while playing. This superstition is popular in North America, South America, Europe, China and Africa and it is said to have originated from the Celts, from the year 600 B.C. Another superstition, particularly popular among Chinese gamblers, is wearing a red piece of clothing…especially underwear.
Chinese players are also deeply attached to the strong illusion of control, and that is why they sometimes believe in gestures through which they can control the opponent (such as placing object around him or instructing someone to touch his shoulder during the game).
Chinese gamblers’ beliefs are particularly important, not only for the Asian market, but also for the rest of the world, given the fact that Macao – a region in the south of China, is considered to be the world capital of gambling, overtaking this title from Las Vegas.
The semiotics of numbers…in gambling
Even though it’s not always related to math, gambling is mostly based on numbers and combinations of numbers. Consequently, some players avoid hotel rooms with numbers that can affect their fortune. For example, Chinese players will avoid picking a room number like 58, sounds similar to won’t prosper in Cantonese (the dominant language in Hong Kong and Macao). If some cultures consider 3 to be a lucky number, for others the “magic” number is 7 – based on astrology, the Bible, Celtic beliefs and the Christian theology.
When a gambler does not want to explicitly admit that he believes in superstitions, he can say about a thing that it “brings bad luck”. Here are a few examples: lending money to other players, playing on a polished table, turning in the chair while playing, counting money during the game, whistling during the game, crossing legs, number 13 or $50 bills. This last “rule” is popular among Americans, who will not accept $50 bills as payment in casinos or other gambling facilities.
Another interesting superstition has to do with the dice. It is said that a woman who has never played has a greater chance at getting lucky the first time, while men do not have beginner’s luck. Also, some gamblers think that if the dice hit another player’s hand before falling on the table is a sign of bad luck.
To conclude, even if we’re talking about common or less common superstitions, a thing is for sure: they do not always guarantee winnings, but ignoring them can cause disputes during the game or even losses for the industry. This was the case for a Las Vegas casino – MGM Grand Casino, whose entrance had a shape of a lion’s mouth. For some Asian players, entering the main entrance of a casino brings bad luck, especially when it looks like the jaws of the beast. Consequently, the owners decided to rebuild the casino in 1997, in an attempt to lure Asian players.
Respecting such “rituals”, wearing a talisman or avoiding certain numbers that are believed to bring bad luck will not result in an instant jackpot, but a gambler knows that signs are important in the gambling world.