Many gamblers are superstitious to a degree. Why else would people play negative-expectation games in hopes of winning? Superstitions can certainly add something to your gambling experience. Maybe you have a hot blackjack run when you’re wearing a certain shirt, or you hit a large slots payout on a specific machine. Some superstitions have factuality to them. For example, those who believe that poker sites are rigged can refer back to the UB and Absolute Poker superuser scandals.
I’m going to look at the most-absurd superstitions across a variety of casino games. None of these beliefs contain factuality and they’re simply based on luck.
Slot Machine Superstitions
Slot machines have created more superstitions than any other casino game. You can’t see the inner workings of a land-based or online slot, which may lead you to form your own beliefs on how these games work.Most slots misconceptions can be cleared up simply by understanding how a random number generator (RNG) works. The RNG cycles through countless potential results to determine whether you win or lose.
But again, you can’t see the RNG at work. Therefore, it’s easy to fall into the belief certain rituals can bring you good luck and winning results. Here are some common slot machine superstitions, most of which can also double as slots myths.
You Can Find Hot and Cold Slot Machines
Many slots players believe that winning is simply a matter of finding hot machines, or those that are paying frequently. These same gamblers will jump off a game immediately if they think it’s cold.
The latter term refers to how often a slot machine is programmed to deliver payouts. Games with high hit frequency often pay a large number of small prizes combined with few big payouts.
Slots Pay Less When You Use a Player’s Club Card
Some gamblers avoid using a player’s club card on land-based slot machines. Their theory is that slots are programmed to pay less when a rewards card is used. It seems logical that casinos want you to lose more to make up for the rewards they’re delivering. But this idea is pure superstition and lacks any substance.
I’ve never heard of any casino in history being caught offering lower payback to make up for comps. Furthermore, there’s no reason for gambling venues to risk programming a slot to pay less because somebody’s getting rewards. Most casinos only comp the lower loyalty levels at a 0.1% rate on slots. Based on the high land-based slots house edges, the average player loses approximately 50x to 100x what their comps are worth.
Here’s an example:
- A casino comps slots players at a 0.1% rate.
- You’re playing a slot machine with 92% payback (8% house edge).
- You bet $1,000.
- 1,000 x 0.08 = $80 in theoretical losses
- 1,000 x 0.001 = $1 in comps
- Your theoretical losses are worth 80x the rewards.
You can see that casinos have little incentive to cheat slots gamblers just because they’re using a player’s club card.
Standing Up While Playing
Casinos offer seats in front of slot machines for a reason: they want players to sit down and feel comfortable so that they’ll play longer. But the superstitious lot believes that games are less likely to pay when players are comfortable. Their reasoning is that the machine somehow senses when somebody will play for a while and delivers more losing streaks.
This superstition is as ridiculous as they come, because slot machines don’t have sensors to determine when somebody is standing. The theory only becomes more far fetched when including standing players who win less often.
Somebody Can Steal Your Jackpot
Certain slots players are terrified of leaving their machine for fear that somebody will “steal” their jackpot. This leads gamblers to covering their chair with personal belongings when they must go to the bathroom.
I covered earlier that RNGs dictate when payouts are made. Considering how quickly the RNG cycles through number combinations, it’s basically impossible for somebody to steal your jackpot.
Slots Pay More on Sundays
Certain slots players visit casinos as early as possible on Sundays, because they believe that the machines will pay more. This belief seems like it has a religious connotation. But the reasoning has more to do with how busy casinos are on Saturday nights.
The reality, though, is that the RNG doesn’t change how it picks numbers just because a game receives more play. Therefore, your chances of winning big are just as good on Saturdays as they are on Sundays.
Touching the Slots Screen
Every slots player has times where they miss a big payout or bonus round by one symbol. Some of these gamblers believe that they can improve their luck by touching the screen afterward.
They’ll specifically touch the wild or bonus symbol that they needed. The belief is that touching the icon will make it more likely to appear next time. Again, refer to my previous RNG comments throughout this section. The RNG doesn’t have a soft spot in its heart for players who longingly touch wild symbols and bonus icons.
Craps is the biggest game in terms of superstitions. In fact, other gamblers get mad if you violate any of the game’s unspoken rules. Even if you’re not superstitious at all, it’s wise to learn all of the craps irrationalities. Doing so allows you to fit in with other players and have a better time.
Never Say the Word “Seven” at the Table
Many craps players bet with the shooter through the form of pass line and come wagers. Given that these bets depend upon the shooter beating the house, they’re referred to as “right betting.” Right bettors hate the number 7, because it causes the shooter to lose during point number tosses. Therefore, they believe that one should never mention the word seven at the table. Many gamblers will refer to this number as “it” or even the “devil.”
More “Wrong” Bettors Lead to More 7s
Don’t pass line and don’t come bets are referred to as “wrong betting,” because one is backing the house to beat the shooter. Wrong bettors are already unpopular at craps tables. This problem is only exacerbated when superstitious players see too many wrong bettors on the same table. This leads to thinking that the wrong bettors are overpowering the table and making 7s more likely to turn up.
Don’t Touch a Hot Shooter
Right bettors love when the shooter gets on a roll and keeps winning bets for them. It only makes sense that right bettors want the dice tosser to stay hot. Therefore, everybody is supposed to refrain from doing anything that can throw the shooter off their hot streak. This even includes giving the shooter congratulatory pats on the back.
Female Virgins are Lucky, Male Virgins are Unlucky
Players are called “virgins” when they first begin rolling the dice. But not all craps virgins are considered equal. Female virgins are considered lucky and more apt to bring good results to right bettors. Male virgins, on the other hand, are unlucky and thought to bring bad luck. Of course, the dice don’t differentiate between men and women. But don’t try telling this to superstitious craps players.
Mini Baccarat Superstitions
Asian casinos have a unique baccarat culture that includes many odd rituals. This isn’t surprising when considering that Asian gamblers are very superstitious in general.And nowhere are superstitious beliefs more prominent than on the mini baccarat tables. Baccarat is easily the most-popular game in Macau and other Asian casino destinations. Superstition is one of the reasons for this game’s popularity. You’ll commonly see gamblers doing everything from bending cards to blowing on them. Of course, no amount of bending will change the game’s odds. But Asian baccarat players continue to believe that they can will their way to wins.
Squeezing and Bending Cards
American casinos don’t allow you to touch mini baccarat cards. Instead, the dealer handles everything so that games run smoothly and cheating is less possible. Asian casinos are a different story, though, with players not only touching the cards but also destroying them.
One common superstition involves players squeezing cards tightly between their fingers, then slowly bending back the vertical top to reveal the card value. The bending typically makes cards useless, which is why Macau casinos have to switch decks after every round. Although this creates more fun and excitement in baccarat, it also destroys a lot of card decks.
Trying to Blow Away Numbers
Another thing that many Chinese gamblers do is blow on baccarat cards in hopes of blowing away the bad numbers. This is yet another superstition that doesn’t really affect the odds. But some players enjoy doing anything that could possibly bring them good fortune.
Tapping a Glass or Ashtray
Baccarat players all over the world tap drinking glasses or ashtrays in hopes of creating good luck. Gamblers often use one of their chips or a pen to tap the object.
Unlike blowing bad numbers away or slowly revealing a car value, I’m not sure what the belief is behind tapping an ashtray/glass for good luck. Nevertheless, this superstition has caught on among some mini baccarat players.
Blackjack differs from the other games I’ve discussed up to this point, because it has a heavy strategy element. Knowing basic strategy and choosing tables with good rules can help you lower the blackjack house edge under 1%.Due to the strategic aspect, blackjack players aren’t as prone to superstitions as those who play games with completely fixed odds. Nevertheless, you’ll still find a number of gamblers who believe that luck plays a big role in the game.
Players Entering Mid-Shoe Can Disrupt the Game Flow
Superstitious blackjack players don’t like when the order of cards are disrupted. The same gamblers hate when a player joins the game in the middle of a shoe. Casinos know their clientele, which is why they often feature a “no mid-shoe entry” rule. Featuring this rule solves two problems for the casino:
- Superstitious players are happy since nobody can disrupt the card flow.
- Card counters have one less advantage.
As player entering halfway through a shoe doesn’t truly affect gamblers’ long-term chances of winning. But not allowing players to enter mid-shoe does keep card counters from counting off to the side, then jumping into games during advantageous situations. Instead, they must wait until the cards are shuffled and begin counting from the beginning of the shoe.
Bad Players Bring Bad Luck
Blackjack regulars often blame their losses on new players who make poor strategy decisions. Here’s an example:
- The dealer shows a 10 upcard.
- A novice hits a hard 17 (bad strategy play) and draws a 10, thus busting out.
- The regular, who’s sitting next to the novice, is dealt a jack first and a 3 second.
- The regular hits and busts out.
- They immediately blame the novice, because they could’ve gotten a 10 instead of a 3.
While the novice’s decision affected the regular’s chances of winning on this play, they could’ve easily helped too. Perhaps they could’ve taken a bad card instead, leaving the regular with a chance to draw better than a 3. In short, bad players don’t truly change another gambler’s long-term luck. The cards fall where they fall, and it’s up to each player to make the best strategy play possible.
New Dealers Can Hurt the Table
New dealers are often seen as something that can either improve or hurt the table’s luck. A winning blackjack player wants to keep the same dealer at the table, because they don’t want anything to change. In contrast, a losing player welcomes the site of a new dealer in hopes of their fortunes reversing. Unless the dealer is cheating for the table win, they don’t really play a role in blackjack odds. They’re merely at the table to facilitate the game.
Roulette is another casino game that doesn’t involve much strategy. The only thing you can do to influence the odds includes choosing the best two games, including French roulette (1.35% house edge) and European roulette (2.70%).Anything a gambler does beyond this is purely out of superstition. Not surprisingly, there are plenty of roulette players who think that the key to the game is choosing lucky numbers.
Numbers/Bets Run Hot and Cold
Roulette is perhaps the most-popular game for trend betting, where one either wagers with or against the trend. If you bet with a streak, you believe that the number or outcome will continue winning.
Here’s an example of wagering with a trend:
- You’re watching odd/even trends.
- You notice that odd wins three times in a row.
- You start betting on odd to capitalize on the trend.
Wagering against the trend means that you think the outcome is bound to change due to the odds. Here’s an example:
- You’re analyzing red/black trends.
- You notice that black wins three consecutive times.
- You start wagering on red under the belief that it’s due for a win.
The only time that trend betting comes into play is if there’s a biased wheel that’s favoring specific numbers. This is extremely rare in today’s game, because modern roulette wheels don’t break down as easily and favor certain numbers/sections.
Furthermore, roulette odds don’t change just because a certain bet has been winning or losing. The chances of winning an even-money European roulette wager are 48.65%, regardless of what’s happened in the past.
Lucky Numbers Can Win
It’s completely normal to have a lucky number or two. But it’s entirely different to believe that these lucky numbers will bring you big roulette profits. Of course, you can’t blame certain gamblers for believing in their lucky numbers when they hear tales of other roulette players winning big.
For example, Sean Connery won three consecutive bets on 17 while playing at an Italian casino in the 1960s. Despite not wagering much, the former James Bond actor won close to $27,000 (approx. $200,000 when adjusted for inflation).
However, the key thing to understand is that Connery beat 1 in 50,000 odds to win three single-number bets in a row. It’s perfectly fine to bet on your lucky number. But just know that roulette odds could care less about your favorite number.
Poker contains more strategy than any other game on this list. The fact that poker players are competing against each other means that it’s possible to win long-term profits. But like any other casino game, poker also has its superstitions. Players are willing to do anything from wearing dirty close to yelling phrases to help their fortunes.
Wearing Dirty Clothes to the Table Will Help You in a Downswing
Downswings are signified by players being unable to get any good cards and having bad luck at the wrong moments. Some gamblers attempt to break out of these funks by wearing funky-smelling clothes to the table. This is another superstition that baffles me. Regardless, certain poker players honesty believe that wearing dirty clothes are the answer to stopping downswings.
Saying “One Time” to Make Your Hand
Players commonly say “one time” when they’re all-in and looking for a single card to make their hand. This superstition is so common that it’s more of a ritual these days. Of course, players overuse the phrase so much that one time turns into 5 or 10 times by the end of the night.
Changing Deck Colors in Online Poker
Many internet poker sites let you change the deck color as a fun feature. But superstitious players see a deeper meaning in that the deck color can influence their odds.
It’s not uncommon for a gambler to suffer a terrible session, then refuse to use a certain deck color in the immediate future. The same goes for the different table skins that poker sites offer. One may see a certain table skin as bad luck if they keep losing with it.
Superstitions are part of what makes gambling fun. Believing that a certain table seat or number brings good luck can make for a more-entertaining experience. But sometimes superstitions go too far and can get ridiculous. This is especially the case when blackjack regulars get mad at novices or craps players scold a gambler who says seven.
If you believe in crazy superstitions that make the game more exciting, then by all means continue believing in them. But don’t let these beliefs go so far that they infringe on other players’ entertainment. In other words, avoid wearing dirty clothes to the poker table, yelling at craps players for patting a hot shooter, and arguing with someone who’s in your lucky slots seat.