Do Good Luck Charms Bring Luck at the Casino?

Some people swear by good luck charms, others think they’re silly. It’s an age-old question; can you influence Lady Lucky with things like four-leaf clovers, horseshoes and rabbit’s feet? Luck has always played a huge role in gambling. And there’s no doubt lucky charms are a lot of fun. But for professional poker players like Matt Matros, perhaps one of the greatest minds in the game, success at the table is more about scientific theory, study and skill.

The 42-year old from Brooklyn, New York, author of The Making Of A Poker Player: How An Ivy League Math Geek Learned To Play Championship Poker, is a three-time bracelet winner at the World Series of Poker. He is no stranger to the pressure and spotlight of high stakes poker. And has won close to $3 million lifetime. In 2012, he navigated a monster field of more than 1,600 players at the WSOP to win Event #16 for a cool $454,835. He wasn’t playing with any lucky charms that day, but odds are he was afterwards.

I eat Lucky Charms at 3 a.m. in Vegas when I get home from playing poker,” he once tweeted, after a long session at the casino. “Basically, every time I have the opportunity.

Tristan Wade is another top professional who believes in Lucky Charms — the cereal. “One of the biggest decisions on a poker Sunday is, ‘What cereal am I going to eat?’ Today, I chose Lucky Charms,” he once tweeted before a championship session of online poker. The Boynton Beach, Florida pro has won a WSOP bracelet, a WSOP circuit ring and, between online and live poker, more than $3 million. The marshmallows and oats must really be good luck charms.

Magically Delicious Good Luck Charms

Has there ever been a better snack for gamblers? Great taste aside, cereal maker General Mills nailed it with the product name alone, Lucky Charms. It’s perfect.

Lucky Charms

“Somewhere, over that rainbow in a magical forest not so far from here, lives a clever, playful, and harmlessly mischievous leprechaun named Lucky.” reads the backstory at luckycharms.com. Seems Lucky was gifted charms by his father to “spread magic around the world” and made it his mission to use the charms to bring joy with “fun, unique, and inspiring magical moments.”

In a box of Lucky Charms, you’ll find hearts, stars and horseshoes, clovers and blue moons, unicorns, rainbows and tasty red balloons. Plus, the crunchy oat pieces. “We’re Lucky Charms, and we’re magically delicious,” the website advertises.

Four Leaf Clovers

Four Leaf Clover Good Luck Charms

An ancient Irish symbol of luck, the Celts believed four-leaf clovers could help them see fairies, which were believed to be a common source of bad luck, and ward off any mischief. The four leaves are thought to have mystical powers representing faith, hope, love and luck. There are several variations of clover with four leaves but the lucky ones come from the white clover Trifolium plant.

As helpful as they might be, you won’t find many four-leaf clovers in the casino because they are extremely hard to find. A true four-leaf clover is rare, with just one in 10,000 plants carrying the lucky leaves. You’ve spotted the real thing if one leaflet is smaller than the other three.

Horseshoes

Good Luck Charms Horseshoe

Have you heard this conversation at the poker table before?

Player A: “I almost hit my flush; I could have won the tournament!”

Player B: “Almost only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades.”

Horseshoes are one of the most popular good luck charms anywhere in the world. They’ve stood the test of time. Traditionally made of iron, legend has it that mischievous fairies couldn’t stand the touch of iron and shied away from houses adorned with it. People have been hanging them over their doors for centuries as a symbol of luck and good fortune.

These days you’ll find horseshoes on key chains, in trinket stores and on walls as decorative ornaments. You’ll also find many poker players using miniature horseshoes as card protectors.

Note: Always be sure the two points face up when hanging a horseshoe, so it can fill with luck.

Lucky Coins

A canister of lucky coins

You’ve heard the rhyme; ‘find a penny, pick it up, and all that day you’ll have good luck.’

Free money? Enough said! Remember: the penny must be found in the heads-up position to activate good luck.

A Rabbit’s Foot

Rabbits Foot Good Luck Charms

In some cultures, the foot of a rabbit is carried as an amulet to protect its owner and bring good luck. The belief is widely accepted not only here in North America, but Europe, China, Africa and South America as well. Variations of this timeless superstition suggest the donor rabbit must possess certain attributes, like having been killed in a particular place, by a particular method, or by a specific person.

Be wary of this good luck charm, though, and always remember the witticism and advice of Humorist R. E. Shay, who is credited with saying, “depend on the rabbit’s foot if you will, but remember it didn’t work for the rabbit.”

The Shark

The ever-flamboyant Humberto Brenes first introduced us to his outlandish shark routine at the 2006 World Series of Poker. Decked out in a bright track suit, with two pairs of sun glasses, one on top of the other, and a visor, the Costa Rican pro was perfectly suited for ESPN at the height of the poker boom.

Deep in the main event, in a hand against fellow bracelet winner Prahlad Friedman, Brenes announced “ALL IN” and made sure to place his good luck charm, a toy shark card protector, on top on his chips as he slid them into the middle. As Friedman contemplated his decision, Brenes then proceeded to put on a show for the crowd and television cameras. “Shark’s hungry,” he said repeatedly, motioning his hands like a shark’s mouth biting down.

It’s how he got his nickname ‘The Shark,’ not to mention the $6.1 million he’s earned playing live poker.

The Orange

Poker legend Johnny Chan is not opposed to some positive energy at the table, although the origins of his good luck charm were something else entirely. The ‘Orient Express,’ a two-time world champion and 10-time WSOP bracelet winner, plays with an orange at the side of his stack of chips. The orange was there in 1988 when he beat Eric Seidel heads-up for the second of his back-to-back world titles, on display for all to see during that epic final hand forever immortalized in the movie Rounders.

Johnny Chan with good luck charms orange

Chan used to be a four-pack-a-day cigarette smoker, until he quit in 1982. Players could still smoke in casinos and poker rooms back then, so he would bring an orange to his games to cover up the smell of cigarettes. The orange and its delicious citrus fragrance have never left his side since.

The Lighter

Doyle Brunson

Doyle Brunson has also won two world championships and 10 gold bracelets and, just like his fellow Hall of Famer Chan, he too plays with a good luck charm, or at least he used too. The Godfather of Poker was known for using a lighter, with a logo of the film Ghostbusters on it, as a card protector. He nicknamed it ‘Casper.’

Casper gained quite a reputation for good luck charms. To the point where other players would pay him as much as $200 for 30 minutes to borrow it. Good luck or good fortune? Brunson eventually sold his lucky card protector to Howard Lederer for a reported $3,500.

The Fossil

Greg Raymer

When Greg Raymer toppled a then-record field of more than 2,500 runners to win the 2004 main event, and the $5 million that went with it, he became instantly recognizable for wearing a pair of ominous sunglasses with holographic reptilian eyes. They were freaky, to say the least. Did you know Raymer’s nickname is ’Fossilman’ because of his hobby of collecting fossils? During his world championship run, he used a different fossil each day as a lucky card protector.

Now, some 16 years later, Raymer is still handing out signed one-of-a-kind fossils to anybody lucky enough to knock him out of a tournament.

The Bling

Good luck Charms charm

One of the best ways to dawn and show off your good luck charms is through jewelry. A quick search online will lead you to any number of potential gambling gems. Playing card rings, glow in the dark dice earrings or even slot machine pendants. On Amazon, you’ll find a 14-karat gold blackjack playing card pendant, and a 925-sterling silver four-aces pendant. Take your pick!

The King

With 18 number one hits and more than 40 songs to crack the Top Ten, Elvis Presley is ‘The King,’. Not only the king of rock and roll but the king of Vegas as well. His 1962 classic Good Luck Charm stayed at the top of the charts for two solid weeks. Thanks in large part to its riveting opening verse:

Don’t want a four-leaf clover. Don’t want an old horseshoe. I want your kiss. Because I just can’t miss, with a good luck charm like you.

Whatever works, right? The point of lucky charms, whether they’re in a bowl and magically delicious or neatly protecting your cards at the table, is to have fun with them and keep them positive. A positive attitude goes a long way towards good luck.

Derrick Oliver

Derrick Oliver

Derrick Oliver Dewan is the founder of High Roller Radio and has interviewed a number of the world's top poker players and gamblers. A former radio and television broadcaster, Derrick was brand manager for Poker Pro Canada magazine and has written for a variety of publications, including the Toronto Star & Windsor Life.

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