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Betting on Beliefs: The Origins of Casino Superstitions

Betting on Beliefs - AboutBoulder.com

We all harbor superstitions. We’ve seen sports fans abstain from shaving their lucky beards during a winning streak and others who refuse to wash a cherished jersey for fear of washing away success. You’ve likely also encountered traditional superstitions passed down from elders. For instance, common examples linked to bad luck from different parts of the globe include:

  • Ill omen associated with broken mirrors
  • Fear of black cats
  • The taboo of walking under ladders
  • An owl flying over where you live
  • Opening an umbrella when indoors


Gambling also has its superstitions that date back millenniums to ancient times. To date, many casino fans world over believe in them whether they play in a land-based lobby or on leading iGaming sites such as the vegas casino platform. Let’s explore the six most common casino gambling superstitions and their origins today!

Itchy Hands

Itchy hands could translate to bad luck in some European cultures. The ancient notion that links an itchy left palm to impending financial loss could explain how this bad omen came to be. Interpreting this superstition can be tricky since it depends on which hand itches. Furthermore, some cultures don’t view itchy hands negatively, while others view it as a sign of impending financial gains.

Unlucky Numbers

Cultures worldwide have specific numbers with unlucky connotations. For instance, Friday the 13th is associated chiefly with misfortune and demise in the Western world. This superstition extends to airlines and buildings, and you’ve probably encountered buildings without the 13th floor. Similarly, 13 is deemed inauspicious on the casino floor. Many players avoid this number in roulette and opt for 14 or 15 instead.

On the other side of the coin, the Chinese culture takes a different perspective by linking the unlucky aura to the number 4. Numerous office buildings skip a fourth floor. This aversion stems from the resemblance of the Mandarin word for four, Si, with Siwang (death).

Dice Rituals

You’ll be surprised at just how many players love to blow on dice before playing at craps tables. This peculiar habit is seemingly innocuous compared to other superstitions, but its origins remain mysterious.

One intriguing possibility traces this activity back to the early days of gambling; cheaters allegedly applied a sticky substance to one side of the dice that activated by blowing. However, some historians argue that this superstition stems from earlier street games. It was merely a method for cleaning the dice before tossing.

Entrance Beliefs

You’ll mostly encounter this gambling superstition among Asian gamblers. Most players from this region prefer entering the casino via the rear entrance. The earliest recorded instance is in 1997 when the MGM Grand revamped its iconic lion’s mouth entrance. Numerous such superstitions emerge daily. For example, the proprietor of London’s Hippodrome Casino redesigned the VIP hall to include feng shui. This section was tailored for wide-wheeled, superstitious clients.

Money Superstitions

The origins of this superstition vary. Some give a psychological explanation, suggesting that counting your cash breeds pride and overconfidence. It ultimately disrupts focus. Others view it in terms of etiquette, believing that flaunting wealth can dispel good luck. If you’ve listened to Kenny Rogers, you may recognize this superstition from his song “The Gambler.” Although the belief is prevalent in blackjack games, it can influence gameplay at almost any table.

The Origins of Casino Superstitions - AboutBoulder.com

Salt Fears

You’ve diligently planned your gambling night by studying the right strategies and even meditating for three hours to get into the perfect mindset. You stop for your favorite meal along the way, only to accidentally spill salt on the table. Despite your meticulous preparations, it feels like everything’s gone to waste – you might as well go home!

This superstition may seem humorous, but many gamblers take it very seriously. Its emergence is related to Latin and the fact that salt and salary share the same root. Even though it’s very unlikely that salt could be used as an actual current, people still associate salt with money and believe that spilling this precious commodity could anger the spirits of fortune and goodwill. So, people would toss a pinch of salt over their left shoulder with their right hand to ward off bad luck in case it was spilled.

Go Beyond the Myths!

Superstitions may hold sway over some players. However, you shouldn’t let these beliefs dictate your betting decisions. Instead, focus on rationality and informed choices to maximize your chances of success. It’s also important to understand probability and educate yourself on the games you’re betting on, from their rules and strategies to odds.

So, for the best potential of favorable outcomes, always follow strategic approaches while maintaining emotional detachment. Combined with thorough preparation and decision-making, these can shift your focus from irrational beliefs to logic and strategy. So, forge your own luck by understanding the ins and outs of the game and sharpening your skills through practice.

John Mali Director of Media Relations

Director of Media Relations at AboutBoulder.com


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