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Superstition & Poker Players

Discussion in 'Skill Games' started by citytom, Apr 18, 2008.

    Apr 18, 2008
  1. citytom

    citytom Banned User

    Superstition and Poker Players

    See the guy across the table? He has a little green frog figure sitting next to his chip stack. About as tall as two dice placed on top of each other. Another fellow has a Marlboro box sized metal Buddha strategically placed beside his chips. At other tables I see a bears tooth, a silver dollar, a penny encrusted in clear plastic with MY LUCKY PENNY imprinted on it. Scanning the room I see a medallion with a crucifix embedded in it, a statue of what looks like a small white dog, a four leaf clover in plastic, a little red devil figurine, a piece of iron looking material claimed to be a meteor.you get the idea? Are these items on the tables to bring them luck? Does the owner think that their lucky piece will have an effect on what cards theyll receive? Do they think that there is some mysterious force or energy emanating from these trinkets? Might they think their amulet elicits divine intervention to help them win at poker? I had the opportunity to approach five of them, and ask about their trinkets. Ill tell you what they said at the end of the story. But let me give you my take on lucky pieces first.

    Believing that a lucky piece (or amulet) will bring you good fortune is a superstition. There are various types of superstitions used in gambling and poker. Some make sure to wear the same shirt they wore when they won their last tournament.
    I know a player who picks his cards up only with his left hand, another makes sure he looks at only one card at a time. Ive seen a fellow get up and walk around the table every time he won a hand. Overall, I think all superstitions are absurd, but today Id like to focus on the absurdity regarding the trinkets and related paraphernalia that poker players bring to the table to bring them luck and fortune.

    Lets talk about the Laws of Nature, you know, laws of physics and such. If you drop a ballit falls (Principle of Gravity), it does not float in the air. If someone claims that they possess the powers to make a ball levitate, that would be counter to the principle of gravity. If proven, then the laws and principles of nature would change. All the claimer would have to do is prove it under scientific conditions.

    As for poker players and lucky pieces, if you REALLY think that your lucky piece effects the outcome of games, well, uh, please read more.

    Physics shows us definite rules by which nature always operatesrules for establishing what is physically possible, and for eliminating the impossible. The scientific community has confidence in these laws due to observations and experiments.

    A lucky piece (amulet/charm which brings good luck) on the poker table for the purpose of bringing the owner good luck needs to demonstrate its effectiveness via scientific observation and testing which can be replicated.. Without such validation it is just a superstition, a form a magical thinking.

    There is a rock in Africa where people travel thousands of miles so they can sit on it to become fertile. Some have become pregnant and conclude that the rock had caused the pregnancy. A golfer wears a copper alloy bracelet. The next day he feels less pain, and concludes that the energy from the bracelet caused the reduction of pain. A poker player places his lucky stone on the table and places in the money in his last three tournaments. He believes the stone effects the cards he is dealt. All of these are examples of magical thinking.

    One of the learning methods humans are programmed to use is to associate things and events that go together. We are born into this world not as critical thinkers, but as magical thinkers. The tooth fairies, Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, were all very real for us when we were children. We learned automatically about what goes with what and then later interpreting those associations in terms of what causes what. It is this association of events that occur close together in time that underlies not only our intuitive learning about the world but also superstitious learningseeing cause and effect relationships where none exist.

    Gambling is truly an event of numbers, meaning that a mathematic probability exists for each situation. Take the following situation as an example. If a person flips a coin 10,000 times, no one expects it to be heads then tails then heads again, etc. for the entire 10,000 times. You will have streaks or runs where it might be heads ten or twenty times in a row then tails seven or thirty times in a row. No one calls that good or bad luck. Its just the probability of events.

    So when a person gambles, they are walking into the event and they have no idea if the event is coming up heads or tails, or in their case a winner or loser. If a person plays 10 hands of blackjack and loses nine hands, they might think they have bad luck but in reality if you played 10,000 hands taking into the consideration that the casino has a house advantage you will win your appropriate amount of hands. Unfortunately, most gamblers do not have enough money to sit around for thousands of hands until it is their turn to win. Therefore, those gamblers would call it bad luck if they lost and good luck when they won and all that really occurs is a mathematical experience.

    Hold em Poker is different from flipping a coin. There are skills involved. Bluffing, playing position, slow playing ,stealing blinds, calculating hand, pot and implied odds, and analyzing the texture of the table are skills of a seasoned poker player. If you play correct poker, the chance expectations of you winning is higher than one who plays like a maniac.

    Leaving skill and abilities out of the equation, over the long run, the good hands and the bad hands even out. Statistically, you should be dealt pocket aces every 220 hands. The odds against flopping a flush are 118 to one. Completing a straight on the river is a 5 to 1 shot. Those are called chance expectations. Sometimes you will be dealt pocket aces twice in ten hands. It happens. But believing that your lucky charm has a cause/effect on you receiving those aces is just silly. Sorry, that is not the way life works. Having a card marker/protector is one thing, but believing that it has supernatural powerwell, youll just have to prove it to me. Youll probably win the Nobel prize as well.and receive phone calls from the US Department of Defense, CIA, and a dozen or two foreign governments.

    In fact, there is an organization, The James Randi Educational Foundation (JREF), located in Ft. Lauderdale. The JREF, offers a one-million-dollar prize to anyone who can show, under proper observing conditions, evidence of any paranormal, supernatural, or occult power or event. The JREF does not involve itself in the testing procedure, other than helping to design the protocol and approving the conditions under which a test will take place. All tests are designed with the participation and approval of the applicant. In most cases, the applicant will be asked to perform a relatively simple preliminary test of the claim, which if successful, will be followed by the formal test. Preliminary tests are usually conducted by associates of the JREF at the site where the applicant lives. Upon success in the preliminary testing process, the "applicant" becomes a "claimant."

    It costs nothing, and you can find the application for the prize at You must register/login in order to see the link.. However, before you apply, I suggest you do some preliminary testing yourself. Make sure your lucky charm can actually do the things you will be claiming it can do. Don't lie to yourself.

    Find someone you know who is a reasonable, scientific sort and talk to him about your lucky piece. Ask him to be candid. Then, demonstrate your proposed claim to him. This is the second big hurdle. If you can convince an honest friend that your lucky piece works then keep going. Otherwise, stop; you will have no chance convincing the JREF's investigators.
    If you feel your lucky piece consistently brings you strong cards, you might want to keep a record of your cards with, and without, your charm on the table.
    Maybe do a little research. You might start with You must register/login in order to see the link. , or You must register/login in order to see the link.. Review the literature. Make sure you are not fooling yourself with claims that just cant be supported. If after this, you feel you have the goods, submit an application for the million dollars

    At the beginning of this article I told you I had asked five of the lucky piece holders about the pieces they brought to the table. I have to admit, I was pleasantly surprised by their answers. None of the five actually thought their trinkets brought them luck.
    Regarding the fellow with the plastic encrusted lucky pennyit was just a noveltya remembrance from Las Vegas. The owner of the meteor told me how his object stimulated discussion at the table. Nothing mystical involved here. The player with the Silver Dollar used it as a card protector. No powers, no influences. The response from the fellow with the piece of metal with a crucifix embedded in it, was a hearty laugh and definitive no way, when I asked if he brought his item for luck. Finally I got to talk with the person who brought the statue of the small white dog to the table. As soon as I asked her about it, she whipped out two photos of her much beloved dog, which looked much like the statue. A lucky piece???no way, she just used it as a card guard.

    It was good to see that superstitious behavior was not a prevalent as I had thought.

    Tom Golabek is an award winning magician, and plays the poker tables of South Florida and Las Vegas. He has produced a step by step instructional DVD on how to perform a colorful collection of poker chip tricks, and card handling techniques which can be found at You must register/login in order to see the link.
    2 people like this.
  2. Apr 18, 2008
  3. winbig

    winbig Keep winning this amount.

  4. Apr 18, 2008
  5. RobWin

    RobWin closed account

    Who knows?
    A Vault!
    Is that one of those subliminal messages that you are sending there Win ??:D
  6. Apr 18, 2008
  7. Slotster!

    Slotster! I predict a riot. CAG

    al Hazard
    Location, Location!
    Enjoyed that - cheers! :thumbsup:
  8. Jun 4, 2009
  9. LetitRoll

    LetitRoll Dormant account

    Hedge Funds
    Im very superstitious. Part of my routine.
  10. Jun 4, 2009
  11. AussieGambler21

    AussieGambler21 Dormant account

    Farm Labourer
    NSW Australia
    Think of it this way....In a game like poker as we all know and you mentioned it in your post that how well you go depends on your skill level.

    Now for some people i believe there supposed "lucky charms" do help them win.

    Now before people tell me i am a crazy idiot, i don't believe in lucky charms and their "mystical powers" or whatever you call it but i do believe in the psychology that these "lucky charms" can have on players.

    Let me explain.

    From a psychological point a true believer in lucky charms in a game like poker are going to play bad (or at least worst then usual) without the "charm" then if they had it.

    For e.g. if they do not have their "lucky charm" they will feel defeated from the start and will honestly believe they will loose and we all know that if you go into a poker game with that attitude then there is pretty much no doubt you are going to lose. However if that same person has their "lucky charm" they are generally going to play their normal game as in they are not going to go in feeling defeated before they started and most likely have a more relaxed attitude to the tournament giving them at least the right mental state to have a chance at sustaining good (or even lucky) play.

    Well this is just something to mull over anyway, i mean maybe we create our own luck at times, not all the time admittedly but maybe sometimes.
  12. Jun 4, 2009
  13. love2winalot

    love2winalot Dormant account

    Roulette Player
    Philippines/Visiting Las vegas
    Hiya: I like the ol saying, "This is my Lucky Rabbits foot", and you reply, "Well, it was NOT Lucky for the rabbit, was it"? hehe
  14. May 28, 2010
  15. sw3tsexi

    sw3tsexi Dormant account

    hippie student
    I wont play unless a black cat cross the street in the street... HAHAHA superstitious but then its better to belief it than none at all.
  16. Nov 10, 2010
  17. PokingStars

    PokingStars Dormant account

    I'm more of like a scientific guy so I don't really believe that. People tend to see patterns where none exists. If I play poker and I win then I don't blame it on luck, I blame it on talent. If I lose, I blame it on variance ;) Hahaha!
  18. Feb 18, 2011
  19. Kattrine_John

    Kattrine_John Dormant account


    HI all of you !!!

    whether you believe in power of luck and superstition at poker table, superstitions remain a fun and integral part of the poker culture. Anything and everything at poker certainly keep things interesting. People should get to believe what they want to after all, even if it does seems a bit odd.

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