Very Superstitious: 10 Gambling Superstitions On 2022’s Only Friday The 13th

Written By Robyn McNeil on May 13, 2022 - Last Updated on June 30, 2022
Black cat, close up of the eyes with a yellow colour. black background. 10 casino gambling superstitions

Step on a crack, break your mother’s back. Step on a line, break your father’s spine.

For generations now, the dark children’s rhyme has (likely) been one of the first introductions to superstition for the uninitiated. But, it’s far from the last.

Humans, North Americans at least, avoid stepping under ladders, black cats and breaking mirrors less they bring on unknown misfortune.

Of course, some groups seem especially susceptible to superstitious beliefs (the playoff beard, anyone?). Gamblers, particularly casino-goers, often prove to be some of humanity’s more superstitious souls.

So, in honour of Friday the 13th AND Stevie Wonder’s birthday, PlayCanada presents 10 of the longest-standing gambling superstitions.

10 Long-standing gambling superstitions from the casino floor

10. Bad luck 13 and Lucky 7s:  good luck and bad omens

Number thirteen painted in black on a white wall

According to Donald Dossey, the unlucky associations of the number 13 stem from Norse mythology. According to the folk historian, 12 gods had a dinner party in Valhalla and neglected to invite the trickster, Loki. As the uninvited 13th guest, his arrival ended in the death of the god Balder. And Balder’s last breath cast the earth into darkness.

In Christian traditions, 13 connects to the last supper and crucifixion. Neither of which ended well for God’s number one son.

When it comes to more modern history, thirteen has become a number to avoid for those seeking their fortunes. Good luck finding a 13th floor (or hotel room) at most Las Vegas properties. You can, however, find ‘13’ on Vegas roulette wheels. Still, many refuse to lay bets there.

7, on the other hand, is associated with luck and good fortune.

Ancient societies believed the seventh son of the seventh son would be gifted magical powers. In the Bible, God spent six days creating the world before resting on the seventh. Beyond Christianity, ‘7 Heaven’ references the seven heavens found in Islam and Judaism.

In Confucianism, 7 represents the harmony of yin, yang and the five elements. Hinduism has seven levels each in the upper and lower realms, and in Buddism, baby Budda first took seven steps.

Today, a visit to any casino will make it apparent the good charm associated with seven stuck around, with lucky 7s appearing all over. Most notably on Lucky 7s slots classic 3-reels screen.

9. Whistling while you ‘work’

This casino superstition originated when sailors refused to whistle while onboard a vessel at sea. Whistling, they thought, encouraged winds to gust harder. Eventually, there was even a ban on whistling at sea.

Even if you’re not superstitious, not whistling on the casino floor is a great way to avoid vexing your fellow gamblers. And not annoying the heck out of people can only be good karma.

If you’re playing at an online casino, it’s safe to assume you can have at it, but that depends on who’s around.

8. Itchy hands

Globally, depending on where you’re from, itchy palms can mean bad luck (Bulgaria) or be considered a lucky charm.

In North America, which fortune is yours depends (it is said) on which palm is itchy. Is it the left? Get ready to lose or make a payment. But, on the other hand (literally), an itch could mean a windfall or an unexpected cheque coming your way. Fingers crossed, anyway.

7. Lucky (& unlucky) charms

Horseshoe with four leaf clover in clover field_shutterstock

Speaking of crossed fingers, many gamblers (heck, many people) have lucky charms they associate with a win. For some, that might be a special person, a particular seat or a lucky beard (😉 ). It could even be a trusted routine.

Maybe it’s a day of the week or a ‘thing’ for others. Perhaps a number (mine’s 5), a beard, a rabbit’s foot or another tchotchke. Even a pair of unwashed socks worn repeatedly. Whatever ‘it’ is, you can be sure that it’s necessary to encourage a win for the superstitious gambler. That doesn’t mean they will win. But it does mean they believe they won’t if they don’t have/do/wear the thing.

6. Crossing your legs

While crossing your fingers is a common prompt for a bit of luck, crossing your legs at a casino table is seen as a no-no.

The origin of this superstition is unknown, but the idea is that crossing your legs could “cross out” any luck headed your way. Superstitious players pay special attention to ensuring their feet are on solid ground.

5. Lending money (to another gambler)

For many gamblers, floating money to another player is tempting fate. The thought is that by loaning money you may never see again, you’re welcoming a deficit into your life.

While it is never wrong to be kind, if funding another player’s action risks money-losing lousy luck, it’s no wonder the superstitious avoid it.

4. The colour red

Although nobody wants to be ‘in the red,’ wearing red is another story.

According to Chinese tradition, red is the colour associated with luck and good fortune. In the West, however, red is symbolic of love and romance. That said, with all the dating horror stories making the rounds these days, perhaps the lucky link makes sense.

In any case, you see a lot of red in the gambling world, particularly in casinos. And superstitious gamblers will often incorporate the colour into their ensemble somehow. However, it may not always be obvious, as red undies are the go-to for many players looking for that good luck shot.

3. Cursing at the roulette ball

Pop art style comics panel angry woman grinding teeth with speech bubble and swear words symbols

This one’s a new one for me, but some folks swear by it—literally!

It seems to have originated at Ontario online casinos, which makes sense. I can’t imagine table hosts or casino security taking too kindly to a barrage of insults hurled on the casino floor. But, fellow gamblers say from the safety of your home or mobile phone (depending on where you are) hurling expletives at the spinning ball courts good fortune.

Who are we to hecking argue?

2. Using the front entrance

Shut the front door. Or at least avoid it.

Reportedly, this superstition stems from early Las Vegas days, when the MGM Grand casino had a massive front door that looked like a lion roaring.

Superstitious gamblers began avoiding walking into the mouth of a beast. Others avoid using the front door to avoid crossing the path of those leaving to escape a losing streak. Anything to avoid picking up bad mojo on the way in, it seems.

1. Never count your money when you’re sitting at the table

Kenny Rogers was right. There’s time enough for countin’ when the dealing’s done.

This one, however, is part superstition and part etiquette.

Counting money at the table is thought to be highly gauche, whether it happens before the game is over or immediately afterward. On top of being insensitive to fellow players, it’s seen as another way of tempting fate and inviting misfortune.

Instead, many gamblers wait until they leave the casino to tally up their winnings. Some even wait until they’re home to break out the abacus.

The good luck club

As you can see, when it comes to gambling, superstitions abound. Most gambling superstitions come from myths and folklore and can even add a bit of fun to your gambling experience.

And that’s essential to remember on Friday the 13th and every day of the year. Gambling should always be fun.

Nothing can guarantee a win, whether you’re sporting red undies, toting a good luck charm, or swearing at an undeserving roulette ball.

So have fun, play safe and stay within your limits.

Photo by Shutterstock
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Robyn McNeil

Robyn McNeil is a Nova Scotia-based writer and editor. She lives in Halifax in an empty nest with a mischievous cat and a penchant for good stories, strong tea, cheeseburgers, yoga, graveyards, hammocks, gardening, games, herb, and hoppy beer.

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