- Never accept a $50 bill
- Avoid an ace & 8—the deadman's hand
- Wear red for good luck
- Never count your money at the poker table
If you’ve ever refused to accept a $50 bill, only worn a cap you swear brings you good luck, or revere the number 7, you’re probably superstitious — especially at the poker table.
While we can’t guarantee these will bring you a full-house during your next game, they’re definitely fun to read through. We look at 10 poker superstitions that may or may not bring extra luck to your next game.
1) Anything but a $50 bill
Wait, winning money can be bad luck? Sometimes. Fifty dollar bills specifically, are considered bad luck at the poker table and in the casino. Let’s say your winnings were $1550, a superstitious player would opt for 2 $20 bills and a $10 bill instead of a $50.
Fun fact: this superstitious goes back to the days of the mob in in Las Vegas, where they’d kill someone, stick a $50 bill in their victim’s jacket, and bury them in the desert.
2) Disheveled player? Maybe it’s on purpose
Whether it’s more about routine or playing it safe, one of the grosser things on our list is wearing dirty clothes for good luck. It’s said that wearing dirty clothes while playing poker can get rid of bad luck, or, simply the same clothes you’re wearing during a lucky streak in a tournament.
So, if you happen to be at the WSOP and see the pros wearing the same t-shirt in a row, they just might be on the up-and-up. Or, the won a tournament in that shirt 10 years ago — you can be the judge on if it’s been washed since then.
3) Speaking of clothing, try wearing red
In Chinese culture, red represents success, wealth, good fortune, and happiness — you might know that red is considered so lucky, brides wear red on their wedding day, money is given in a red envelope during Chinese New Year, and some people choose to wear the color to the casino.
We can’t say for sure if this will help you at all, but it would certainly smell better.
One interesting thing to note about red at the casino, is that people are more likely to bet on red at the casino, which could because of the luck behind the color.
4) Aces & Eights? I’d rather have a 7-2
An ace and an 8 is known as the ‘deadman’s hand’, and was allegedly the hand Wild Bill Hickok was holding when he was shot in 1876. This hand is considered a sign of ‘bad things to come’ by many poker players.
5) Don’t sit cross-legged
Don’t make crossing your legs at the casino table a habit — apparently, this will ‘cross out’ bring luck. On the flip side, crossing your fingers is said to bring you good luck. Go figure.
Some people say crossing your legs crosses out bad luck, (which means crossing your legs is a good thing). But we’re going to play it safe, and keep both feet firmly planted on the casino floor.
6) Sitting at the table? Don’t count your money
“You never count your money while you’re sittin’ at the table..” sings Kenny Rogers in ‘The Gambler’. While some might just consider it bad taste to count your money in front of your opponents, many do this for superstitious reasons. Here’s one positive about counting your money after leaving the casino — you won’t blow your winnings on a game of roulette.
Some people certainly prefer to know where they stand, but the ultra-superstitious will likely avoid it if possible. Wonder if Kenny knew his lyrics would long-influence the way the game is played?!
7) Win anything but the first hand
‘How can winning ever be a bad thing?’ you might ask yourself, and while we’re inclined to believe, some people claim it’s bad luck to win the first hand in a tournament or cash game.
8) Card protectors protect more than just the cards
If you’re a Doyle Brunson fan, you’re probably familiar with his Ghostbusters card protector nicknamed ‘Casper’. The good luck charm has definitely been lucky when it comes to money, and has helped Brunson bring money in from more than just poker.
Brunson rented ‘Casper’ to anyone who wants to pay the rental fee — $500 for 30 minutes, making a decent profit (about $15,000) from the rentals. He’s now sold it to poker player Howard Lederer for $3,500 with a stipulation that Lederer only gets the talisman after Brunson passes away. Nobody ever said luck came cheap!
9) Don’t whistle, don’t walk into a casino’s main entrance
If you’re into ghosts, you probably know whistling at night is a no-go, and if you’re a sailor, you don’t whistle on boats. If you love poker, you know the same goes for the table or the casino.
We’re not sure if anyone’s experienced a huge loss while whistling, but we can say that people will be way less annoyed if you stay silent.
Another superstition claims you’ll have bad luck if you enter a casino using the main entrance. This superstition is said to originate from the old MGM Grand, where the main entrance was a huge lion’s head, and patrons figuratively ‘walked into the lions’ den’.
Players that go the distance to remain ‘lucky’ will most likely use a casino’s back entrance.
10) An orange a day keeps bad luck away
While many professional’s good luck charms & rituals are documented, Johnny Chan’s is one of the most famous, and though specific to Chan, we had to include it. You might remember when players were able to smoke in the casino (and the poker table) and Chan, who was bothered by the cigarette smoke, would bring an orange to clear his smell & clear his sinuses.
He had his orange on him when he won the WSOP in 1988, and has brought it to the poker table ever since. You won’t find a lit cigarette in a casino anymore, if Chan’s around, you’ll definitely find an orange.