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Poker And Superstition

Most gamblers are by nature superstitious, at least to some degree, and luck, good or bad, has its influence. Of course, experienced poker players know that luck, although it does play a part, does not win games – skill does. But having a rabbit’s foot key chain in your pocket can’t hurt, can it? Yet superstition lies deep in the subconscious and players often do things or carry things that are felt, consciously or subconsciously, to bring good luck. On the way to a game, you see a coin that someone has dropped. If it is laying face down, leave it because that is bad luck. If the coin is face up, that is a good luck sign.

Put it in your pocket or purse and sit down at the game with confidence as you have brought your good luck with you. Some gamblers won’t leave for a game without the photograph of a loved one! African-American gamblers know about “the mojo”. This is a small flannel bag containing one or more “magical objects”. The intended use of the bag is represented by its color. For example, a green flannel bag is considered a “money mojo” which is perfect for taking to a poker tournament.

Women poker players who believe in the mojo would carry a small money mojo under their clothes. The men would carry a mojo in a pocket in their pants or in a jacket pocket. Believers say the mojo must be carried on the person to be effective. Some of the reputed magical items to be carried in the mojo are: lucky hand root from a rare orchid, a silver mercury dime, a piece of magnetic ore known as a lodestone. The ore is considered an especially powerful force that attracts good luck and is valued by gamblers for its “drawing” power. Many other herbs and charms are valued for their luck bringing capabilities as well. If a poker player should happen to carry a specific charm, amulet or favorite piece of jewelry into a game and he or she has a good night at the table, the player will never enter a game again without the “lucky charm”. There are players who have lost or misplaced their lucky charms and feel “unlucky” going to a game without it. Charm bracelets, once very popular with women in the early 20th century in both the United States and Europe, came into vogue once again around 1960. Female gamblers liked to wear the four leaf clover charm for luck.

Other charms with special “powers” are: Horseshoe magnet because of its reputed magnetic money drawing power. A pig charm – prosperity. A number 13 charm – luck for gamblers. Although 13 is considered basically unlucky, the charm has the power to reverse the bad luck to good for gamblers. Hamsa hand – enhances good luck by thwarting the “evil eye”. Gold wishbone set with a pearl – makes wishes come true. Silver money bag with a $ sign – wealth. Black cat charms – long looked upon as a symbol of evil and bad luck but there are some who believe the black cat to be a good luck money sign. A black cat in candle form is sometimes lighted before a poker game to increase ones good fortune in gambling. Some very popular amulets which are usually suspended from a neck chain are the teeth of sharks, alligators and bears.

Amulets, as opposed to charms are natural objects whereas charms are manmade. The practice of nailing horseshoes over doorways on houses, barns and stables originated in Europe and is still used in the United States to encourage the drawing of good luck to whomever passes through those portals. Strangely enough, these good luck objects can have a positive effect on the believer. Playing poker and knowing that a harbinger of good luck is on your person gives many gamblers a feeling of well being and confidence as well as helping to relieve stress. These positive mental states may indeed help a player to think more clearly, play poker with conviction and possibly walk away from the game as a winner.


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