Ample examples of the superstitious are found in casinos

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I saw the funniest thing in a casino the other day. This woman would tap her head three times then pull the slot handle with the same hand. Ever see anything so weird? Sandy G.

Webster’s New World Dictionary defines superstition as any belief, based on ignorance, that is inconsistent with the known laws of science or mathematics, or with what is generally considered in the particular society as true and rational. But such a belief in charms, omens, and the supernatural are a daily occurrence in casinos across America. For beginners, ever see a thirteenth floor in a casino? Gamblers who believe they can cheat luck by changing tables, dealers, dice, or cards? A poker player who picks up his cards with his left hand?

These eyes wide shut have seen the superstitious gambler sprinkling salt on machines and trying to make them pay off by using salt’s association with money. That comes from ancient times when workers were paid with salt, called “salarium.” We know that word today as salary. Another example was once observing a man heat up his coins with a hair dryer in the men’s bathroom. In questioning his gaming prowess, he replied with unwavering conviction that inserting hot coins produced more winners because the coins coming out of his favorite machine were hot. My explanation that coins’ falling out hot is due to the close proximity of lights and other electrical components to the hopper was ignored.

My personal favorite was when a lady playing on my blackjack game pulled out a Ken doll dressed in black and whites that even had a bow tie duplicating the one I was wearing. After every hand I (the house) won, she inserted straight pins into my likeness and started a voodoo conversation with the doll. Was this certifiable proof that evolution CAN devolve? Who knows, but she won big.

An everyday event anyone can witness is the loud cry for “Same Dice!” on a crap game if the dice fly off the table. If a pit boss decides not to put the same bones back on the game, a chorus of gamblers will howl, “Take down my bet” or “No action on my numbers.” Their haunted belief is based on the couplet: “Dice on the floor, seven at the door.”

And Sandy, who doesn’t have an array of lucky sweaters, hats, shirts, shoes and jewelry that they think will bring them luck. The worst are those gamesters who believe luck is enhanced by wearing dirty clothing while gambling. It might not work but at least they will not have others playing close to them on neighboring slot machines.

But there is another gaming populace that can be far more superstitious than grass root gamblers. How’s this for a group with those same paranoiac beliefs in the paranormal: Casino owners, managers, and employees!

From my own inventory of peculiar accounts I have witnessed is the salt shaker hidden away in the pit. (If one of the tables is losing bad, a little salt on the floor cannot hurt.) Also tossing a penny under the crap game, that is if it lands head up. Tails and the game will blow up right in your face. You’ll have to go fetch that penny.

I once had a shift supervisor tell me that to become a successful pit boss in this business you have to identify lucky from unlucky dealers. Another manager would not let me eat peanuts behind the counter when I worked in a sports book.

Or how about pit bosses changing the cards or dice when they are running in the player’s favor. Sure, we think we’re inspecting them for imperfections and cheats, but many times it’s not the charlatans were after, just a change in luck.

Finally, I once dropped a rabbit’s foot under a crap game to turn the tide. We were being swamped by a hot roll of the dice. Very possibly, Sandy, a shaky course of action, but that foot hadn’t been lucky for the rabbit.

Gambling thought of the week: Men are probably nearer the central truth in their superstitions than in their science. – Henry David Thoreau

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