RITUALS AND SUPERSTITION
What some players do to try and gain an edge
By John Grochowski
I’m not superstitious, and I rarely notice other players with lucky charms or performing good-luck rituals. Oh, I’m happy to egg on my brother Jay in his jackpot dance. No doubt he amused many a surveillance operator when he, my dad and I were on casino trips together. They’re family legend, but so is the bottom line that the really big wins on those trips came when Jay was off making business calls and Dad and I were on our own.
What brings this all to mind was a little superstitious behavior I couldn’t help but notice. I was playing video poker and noticed that anytime the woman next to me had three of a kind on an initial deal, she’d pause, stand up, take a deep breath, then sit and make her draw.
I finally mentioned it, and she said, “I guess it’s superstition. I know it doesn’t really help, but somehow it feels right to me if I have a chance at four of a kind or a royal.”
That sparked my curiosity. What other superstitions were out there that I just wasn’t noticing? I followed up with a group of slot and video poker players. Most said they have no superstitions, but a few have things that make them feel luckier.
Funny you should mention that woman’s pause on one-card draws. I do that, too, or at least I do that sometimes. Whenever I have four cards to a royal, I can’t just draw on my normal rhythm. I have to stop, survey the cards, make sure I’ve held the right ones four or five times. Then I form a mental image of the card I need. Image of Jack of spades in my head, I’ll softly chant, “Jack, Jack, Jack.”
Does it work? Maybe about one time in 47. Let’s put it this way. I’ve never drawn a royal on a one-card draw without my imaging and chant. To answer your next question, no, I don’t try it without all that, so there’s no comparison to be made. Why would I tempt fate?
I used to have a lucky T-shirt. I wore that one into the ground. The first time I won a big jackpot was with three Double Diamonds on a three-reel, quarter machine. I won $625 – 2,500 quarters, except they paid by hand and gave me five $100 bills, six twenties and a five.
I’ve never been so excited! I’m not sure I’d ever held a $100 bill before.
They also gave me a casino T-shirt, and the next time I played, I wore it. I decided to take one of my $100 bills and try a dollar machine for the first time. Naturally, I chose Double Diamond. I noticed the pays were a little different. Three Double Diamonds paid 8,000 in dollars.
I didn’t get the Double Diamonds, but I got a spin with Double Diamonds on the first reel and again on the second, and I kind of held my breath. Then I got a 7 on the third reel!
Three 7s paid $240, and the diamonds doubled it twice. This time they gave me nine $100 bills and six twenties.
That did it. I wore that T-shirt every time I played for 10 years or more. I didn’t win all the time; in fact, I’m sure I lost more than I won. But how could I tempt fate?
I don’t have anything right now, but you know what my superstition used to be? When I flew into Las Vegas, I always took a roll of quarters with me. Then after we landed, I’d head straight to the slots to play my first roll, before I went for my bags and a taxi.
If I won in the airport, it was going to be a lucky trip. If I lost, I made sure to be careful and keep my bets low on the first day before I moved to bigger games on the second.
Now that the machines don’t take coins anymore, no more superstition. I don’t even play in the airport anymore.
I don’t know if this is a superstition, but I guess it’s a ritual. I always start my day at any casino by walking around and checking to see if they have a Money Rain slot, or one of the similar ones with pictures of money.
Naturally, that started with a winning session, but I get a kick out of the game, too, with the presidents smiling when they win.
I had a few nice wins, one with $100 bills and another with $50s, then when I got the rain feature and all those bills came flying around the screen, it seemed like every one I touched was a big payer. For a couple of years now, I do the Money Rain walk first, and figure if I can find it, it’s going to be a good day.
I got this from my mom, who’s a bingo player. I went with her a few times, and all these women had their lucky dolls and stuffed animals. My mom even had her lucky marker. She always had to have it there, even if she was playing on a video screen.
She gave me this really ugly key ring. I found out it came from an old Las Vegas casino called the Lady Luck, and it has this two-inch, bright, almost witchlike character called Mad Money.
That became my good luck charm. I don’t put dolls up on the machine while I play like my mom at bingo, but I’ll confess to feeling better when I have old Mad with me.