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Superstition and Gambling: Why Do We Talk About It?

News | 26/10/2023

According to Johan Huizinga, the human being is a homo ludens, that is, a man whose main characteristic is a natural tendency to play. Play, according to this important Dutch historian and writer who lived in the 20th century, is for the human being a privileged instrument of meaning, essential for helping him to bring some order to things.

Through play, in short, man shapes the reality that surrounds him, creating, through playful experience, civilisation and before that culture, which is one of its pillars. Chess, with its rules, the roles of its pieces and the shape of the board, would, according to Huizinga, be an excellent example of how homo ludens is able to define things by placing them within a very specific perimeter.

This is even more true today, if we look at the developments that are affecting gambling, for instance when we try our hand at themed slot machines, which are certainly not lacking at! They exist and have been conceived and designed to give the player the opportunity to experience customised adventures that somehow allow him to shape the (virtual) reality that surrounds him through his own moves.

And here we are once again dealing with homo ludens! If, as now appears evident, we human beings are indeed«playing men», we are also and above all so in function of the luck binomial, the benchmark that determines success and failure when we are intent on playing.

And in this case, the thinker described by Huizinga fails because he believes he can control unpredictable luck by relying on strange, contradictory, meaningless gestures. These fall into the category of superstition, which we will discuss in the next section.

No Crossing of Legs!

Within the long list of gambling superstitions there is one which to describe as odd is an understatement. We don't know if you know it, but when you place a bet you must under no circumstances cross your legs. How come? Simple, it's bad luck!

According to some popular beliefs such a gesture would push away good luck; so when you sit at a green table if you really want to make a superstitious gesture just cross your fingers.

Never Enter a Casino Through the Main Door

Among the (irrational) gestures that would have an impact on the success of a Blackjack or Baccarat game, there is also the choice of the door through which to enter a land-based casino. Superstition has it that one should never, ever use the main one. That's because it's easier to bump into people who are leaving and probably had bad luck at the game.

In short, when you want to try your hand at one of the most popular pastimes of all time, enter the casino through a side entrance so you don't run into anyone.

Yes to Lucky Charms

So far we have talked about bad luck, now let us talk about luck. To approach gambling at its best, a lucky charm is essential. A bracelet, a necklace or a pendant with a four-leaf clover, a horseshoe or an owl can make all the difference. How? By chasing away the bad luck that surrounds the player and in turn is ready to influence his or her performance.

If you do not have these objects, any lucky charm, which you can hold in one hand to attract positive influences, or a family relic will do. The latter, better if it belonged to a grandmother or grandfather, is supposed to bring good luck and especially a lot of wealth. Will this prove to be true?

There Are Numbers and Numbers

Man has always been fascinated by numbers since ancient times, and has studied them with interest, trying to associate a precise meaning with each one. Without bothering Pythagoras and the Pythagoreans, who interpreted reality by means of numbers, here we are interested in knowing which ones are lucky and which are unlucky.

The most superstitious people know that everything depends on where you were born and raised. For an Italian, 17 brings bad luck and 13 good luck; for an Englishman, on the other hand, the opposite is true; for a Chinese, the number 4 is the one of death, and therefore brings more than bad luck, while 8 is associated with prosperity, and therefore can bring great victories.

Don't Touch a Player's Shoulders!

If you do not want good luck to leave a player, do not touch his shoulders. If he is sitting around a poker table or getting ready to play a slot machine, the advice is to leave him alone. Otherwise he might accuse you of being the cause of his losses!

Itchy Hands

In this case we are faced with a superstition that is difficult to interpret. Let us explain further. When our hands itch, it can mean two things: either that we are about to gain a major win or that we are about to suffer a major loss. Unfortunately, this belief, which is traced back to Native American times, takes on either the former or the latter meaning depending on where you come from.

The fact is that not every country in the world has its own interpretation of itchy hands; it is only known that in Eastern Europe it is a sign of bad luck. What about Switzerland, for example? Nobody knows.

Lending Money to Another Player? Absolutely Not!

When attending a casino, it is good to think only of oneself. Said like that, it is not nice, yet it is superstition that dictates this. For example, in order to prevent luck from running out on us, the best thing is not to lend money to anyone. If we had to borrow money ourselfs, it would be serious trouble.

Fortunately, this bad practice only exists when we cross the threshold of a land-based casino (not through the main door, please!); in the case of online casinos like, ready to offer you the best slot machines on the web, we can take a sigh of relief.

The Colour Red Is More Than OK

When entering a casino, having a piece of clothing in red is a good thing. Indeed, red is the colour of festivities - for us Westerners on the last day of the year, wearing something red is more than auspicious - and therefore of good occasions to better plan one's future.

In China, weddings are strictly in red, so there must be a reason why this colour is absolutely to be kept in mind when it comes to trying your hand at gambling!


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