Friday the 13th: Superstitions in Gambling
What is superstition?
Each individual has their own perception of luck. Some view it as uncontrollable, while others believe it directly arises from their actions and decisions.
This is where superstitions come in. They consist of the belief in supernatural forces or signs of good or bad fortune that can influence the outcome of a game. Superstitions manifest in a series of behaviors and rituals aimed at attracting luck or avoiding bad fortune.
Superstitions related to gambling vary from culture to culture. However, they often share similarities, such as avoiding certain numbers, searching for signs of luck, or using lucky objects.
Superstition may seem irrational, but it plays a significant role in the psychology of the players. It influences their decisions and behavior when they wager or play games of chance. Nevertheless, your victories and defeats depend solely on chance, a factor that is beyond anyone's control.
Where Does the Friday the 13th Superstition Come From?
Friday the 13th: A Religious History
The superstition surrounding Friday the 13th largely originates from religious symbolism. In monotheistic and polytheistic religions, Friday and the number 13 carry particularly strong symbolic weight.
Let's take Christians, for example. In this religion, Friday is inexorably linked to penance after the death of Jesus. According to the Gospel of John, his crucifixion took place on Friday, April 7th of the year 30. This biblical tragedy occurred after his last meal with his 12 apostles. Thirteen individuals are gathered during the Last Supper, including a traitor, Judas, who facilitates Jesus's arrest by the high priests of Jerusalem. The negative connotation associated with Friday the 13th in Western culture may stem from this association with betrayal and death.
Similarly, religious history is replete with other unfortunate events that occurred on a Friday. Among them are Adam and Eve's temptation by the devil, as well as the account of the flood on Earth with the construction of Noah's ark. Notably, in the Bible, chapter 13 is the Apocalypse.
These biblical stories have helped reinforce the association between Friday and the number 13 with tragic events in the collective imagination.
Number 13: A Symbolic Number
Since antiquity, the number 13 has been seen as unreliable. Its fault: it follows 12, considered the perfect number. There are 12 divinities on Olympus. There are 12 constellations in the zodiac, as well as the labors of Hercules. Additionally, there are 12 months in a year, 12 hours of day and 12 hours of night. The number 13 breaks this harmony.
Other societies throughout time have attached a special significance to the number 13. In ancient Egypt, it shone as a symbol of radiant prosperity. It also occupied a central place in Mayan beliefs. The lunar months were divided into 13 days of black moon, 13 days of full moon, and 13 days of new moon. The Mayans venerated 13 deities, each with their own paradise, totaling 13 heavenly realms. The number is also sacred to the Hebrew people. According to the Talmud, the territory of Israel "will be divided into thirteen parts, the thirteenth of which will go to the Messiah King."
To satisfy some superstitious customers, some hotels do not offer a room number 13 to their guests. Similarly, some airlines have eliminated rows and seats with the number 13 on their planes.
Fun fact: Does the number 4 bring bad luck in China? In China, the number 4 is considered unlucky. It sounds very similar to the Chinese word "sǐ" meaning "death". In some hospitals, rooms and floors with the number 4 are avoided. Phone numbers and license plates containing the number 4 can be perceived as unlucky. Many companies and public buildings avoid using the number 4 in their numbers or names to avoid discouraging customers.
Friday the 13th: Unfortunate Associations
Friday the 13th is often associated with unfortunate events ingrained in the collective imagination.
Philippe le Bel, King of France, arrested and tortured the Templars on Friday the 13th, 1307. On that day, according to legend, Jacques de Molay, Grand Master of the Order of the Templars, cursed Pope Clement and the king. Both would die months later...
We can also mention the unfortunate ordeal of the Apollo 13 mission in 1970. The module exploded mid-flight after taking off at 13:13 from a platform bearing the number 39...a multiple of 13.
Other tragedies marked Friday the 13th:
- Hurricane Charley devastated Florida on Friday, August 13th, 2004.
- The Costa Concordia sank on Friday, January 13th, 2012.
- On Friday the 13th of November 2015, France was struck by one of the deadliest terrorist attacks in its history.
Did you know? The fear of Friday the 13th has a name. It's called paraskevidekatriaphobia.
The Most Popular Superstitions in Gambling
The Famous Beginner's Luck
According to this well-known superstition, when a novice plays for the first time, if he or she wins, it's the beginner's luck. This belief is directly linked to the purity and innocence that beginners are believed to possess. In reality, this never holds up; beginners are no more likely to win than experienced players.
Numbers Supposed to Bring Luck
Like 13, superstitions are often associated with numbers. 7, 77, or 777 are seen by players as lucky numbers. The numbers 5 and 3, and all their combinations, are sometimes associated with bad luck. Statistically speaking, there is no evidence that this is true. All numbers can make you lose or win.
Good Luck Charms and Other Lucky Objects
It is not uncommon to see casinos players wearing a small object presumed to bring them luck. Think, for example, of four-leaf clovers, horseshoes, rabbit's feet, rosaries, or coins. All these good luck charms exist to reassure players. No scientific study has proven their effectiveness.
The "Almost Winning" Superstition
It's a well-known psychological phenomenon. A player gets a result close to the jackpot (e.g., 4 out of 5 correct numbers in a lottery). For them, it's a sign! If they continue playing, they will inevitably win. If they get multiple black balls in a row, they believe it increases the likelihood of drawing the red ball. In reality, it's an unconscious bias. Recall that each round is independent. The outcome of one round has no impact on the next.
Bringers of Bad Luck
Some players go to great lengths to avoid encountering a bringer of bad luck before playing blackjack or poker.
The black cat is a well-known legend. This harmless animal is perceived as a bad omen by many players.
Less commonly, the dog can bring bad luck. If it barks before or during a game, the player's luck may turn against them.
Again, these are just superstitions that have no influence on the game.
You may have noticed that some players at blackjack tables or in front of slot machines have their quirks. They blow on the dice, press the button only with their right hand (or left hand), etc. These rituals reassure players and give them the illusion of controlling their luck. However, chance remains random. Your magical thoughts don't change your odds of winning or losing.
Some people look forward to Friday the 13th because they are convinced they will win the jackpot when playing at an online casinos. Yet always remember: games of chance depend solely on luck. Nobody