Learning how to get rid of bad luck in gambling means first understanding what gambling luck is.
Most of the time, gamblers are playing casino games at a disadvantage. Outside of a few specific situations – card counting in blackjack, certain paytables in video poker – casinos host games that give them a mathematical edge.
I’m not entirely sure you can get rid of bad luck in gambling, but I do think there are behaviors and attitudes that can help you feel luckier.
This post is a thorough consideration of the impact of luck on gambling. It includes my thoughts on common misconceptions about luck, and strategies gamblers use to increase their luck at the tables.
What Is Luck in Gambling?
If I’m going to teach you how to get rid of bad luck in gambling, we need to agree on what the word “luck” even means in this context.
So, what is luck in gambling?
Luck, in gambling, is a function of the mathematics that casino games are based on. My desktop copy of the Oxford English Dictionary defines the word luck as “success or failure brought by chance rather than through one’s own actions.” When you’re gambling, luck is a way to refer to your random chance of winning or losing.
By this definition, finding a $100 bill on the sidewalk is a stroke of luck. Getting hit on the head by a flowerpot that falls out a window is also, by this definition, “bad” luck.
Let’s take this definition a step further and talk about luck in the context of a casino.
What’s good casino luck?
If you play a video poker machine and draw a royal flush on your first hand, that’s down to good luck. You, the player, had no input on the formation of that hand. All you did was place a bet and hit the “Deal” button.
Winning a progressive jackpot on a slot machine is all about luck, too. It’s the result of computer-generated random chance. All you had to do to win that big payday was make a qualifying bet and press the “Spin” button. Your luck is the result of a random collection of numbers captured by the slot machine’s random number generator.
What Causes Bad Gambling Luck?
Casino game rules are designed to ensure the casino makes money regardless of the ups and downs of player wins and losses. These swings in what we perceive as “luck” as known as variance, a measure of the unpredictable nature of small sample sizes.
So – what causes bad gambling luck?
Bad gambling luck is caused by the same random chance that leads to good gambling luck.
Outside of a few bonehead gambler behaviors (taking a hit with 20 in blackjack) bad luck in the casino is all down to the vicissitudes of chance.
I’ll put it in the vernacular of a 1980s bumper sticker: “Bad luck happens.”
On my last little gambling excursion (a quick weekend trip to New Orleans), I stopped in at Harrah’s downtown. I spent two or three hours playing blackjack on one of those stadium machines with multiple players and a big screen with a computer-generated dealer.
Get this – at one point, the dealer drew three naturals in a row. The other players at the table were downright upset, and most of them left. A couple of them were muttering about being ripped off.
But here’s the thing – the odds of that happening aren’t all that long. In a two-deck game (like the one I was playing), it happens about once every 12,000 hands or so. That’s one occurrence for every 60 blackjack sessions or so, by my math.
When you look at this “bad luck” through the lens of the math that props up the game of blackjack, what looked like cheating, or an improbable outcome, turns out to be just a quirk of probability.
It turns out that most of what people call “bad luck” in gambling is the result of a poor sample size or a poor understanding of probability math.
Why Are You So Unlucky in Gambling?
As a frequent casino patron and evangelist of all things gambling, I field plenty of complaints from casual gambler friends. They say Vegas is a rip-off, and the casinos are all scams, with the dealers all painted as con men. I try to tell them that they just hit a string of bad luck, and that it happens to the best of us, but they aren’t usually open to that line of logic.
Why are YOU so unlucky in gambling?
You’re so unlucky in gambling because you’re playing games with a negative expectation and high volatility. You’re probably also not using the right strategies, either. Maybe you don’t know basic strategy in blackjack, or you don’t fold enough at the poker table.
When someone tells me they’re an unlucky gambler, I automatically assume they aren’t playing the right way.
I can write a thousand articles explaining how basic blackjack strategy shrinks the casino’s edge to under 1% – but if people don’t follow basic strategy when they play, they’ll consider themselves “unlucky.”
How Do You Break Bad Luck in Gambling?
They’re easy to spot – the people having bad luck at the casino. They look flustered. They’re getting drunk. They’re having an emotional reaction, what my kid’s teacher calls “a human experience.” How can you avoid becoming one of them?
But, more importantly – how can YOU break bad luck in gambling?
You can break bad luck in gambling by changing games, changing the way you bet, or cutting your losses and ending your gambling session for the day. I’ve also heard lots of people say that simply taking a break can help snap what feels like a bad luck run.
Here’s a quick breakdown of the four reactions gamblers typically have in response to bad casino luck:
1- Some people leave.
This might be the most effective remedy for bad luck at blackjack or roulette.
Getting up, grabbing your cash or whatever else, and heading for the exit is as good a fix for a casino-related problem as I can think of.
Even if a person’s sense of luck is incorrect, and they’d be better off sticking it out and playing a few more hands, the kind of emotional issues people get when they think they’re having bad luck make a grand exit a good cure-all.
2- Some people gamble more.
It sounds crazy to bet even more when you think you’re on a bad luck streak, but in some cases, it might work.
You have to remember that what we call “bad luck” is just a side effect of playing a game of chance.
If a player has lost a lot recently, continuing to play means patiently waiting for some wins to help them progress towards their mean.
Having said that, betting more when you’re frustrated is a bad idea, so you should only consider this course of action if you aren’t already playing on tilt.
3- Some people get superstitious.
These are the people who pull out lucky rabbits’ feet or whatever when they feel like they’re in a bad streak of luck.
Lucky totems, lucky clothing, or even lucky behaviors are probably an older form of spiritual practice than what you find in churches today. It’s tough to convince these people that their magic items don’t have any impact on the game’s designed odds and other features – and why would you want to?
If that lucky pair of red socks makes a person feel more confident at the table, I say let them wear them. I cover magical gambling totems and other things further down in this post.
4- Some people get angry.
This is by far the most dangerous reaction to experiencing a series of casino losses.
The consequences of anger at the casino can be quite serious. You run the risk of getting in legal trouble from lashing out at someone or doing something else stupid that you’ll regret later.
It’s also true that angry gamblers aren’t very good at gambling. That makes anger over bad luck a sort of self-fulfilling prophecy. A gambler gets angry because they lose a few hands in a row, and then they gamble stupider because of their anger, which leads to more losses, and on and on.
Don’t gamble angry – get up, take a break, or leave the casino altogether.
How Can You Improve Your Luck in Gambling?
The thing is – most of the people described above don’t really understand how to get rid of bad luck in gambling.
How can YOU improve your luck in gambling?
Most of the time the answer is to keep playing. You should consider switching to a low volatility bet. Go place the minimum bet on black in roulette for a little while. Find a single-deck blackjack table and play that for a few hands. Your bad luck will suddenly melt away.
Look, I’m never going to convince 100% of the gambling public that there’s no such thing as bad luck in gambling.
Here’s the truth: I don’t believe in some mysterious spiritual force doling out wins and losses according to an arcane system of merits and demerits.
I do believe in probability math, and I’ve seen the guts inside of a slot machine, so I absolutely believe in the power of computers to produce random gambling results.
If you agree with me, then the only way to beat your bad luck at the casino should be obvious – you have to keep playing.
Think about it – if I’m playing Jacks or Better video poker according to ideal strategy, and I find myself losing a little bit more than I expected based on the game’s paytable and odds, then the last thing I should consider doing is quitting.
Giving up in a down swing is akin to selling an investment at its lowest price point rather than waiting for the price to recover to a profitable level.
In short, if I’m down a few percent compared to my expectation, I’ve got to keep playing to experience the wins that will bring me back towards my mathematical expectation.
What Should You Bring to the Casino for Good Luck?
Okay, it’s time to embrace the woo-woo. I’ve already revealed that I don’t believe in luck, so it should come as no surprise that I don’t believe in lucky charms. Having said that, I know plenty of people are into this sort of thing. So, let’s get into it.
What should you bring to the casino for good luck?
Charms – trinkets or small objects that have been charged with some mystical power to bring good luck – have been used by humans for millennia. Pretty much every organized society for thousands of years has had its version of the good luck charm. Think of the venerable “lucky rabbit’s foot,” seen as lucky across many modern cultures. I’ve always thought that it wasn’t very lucky for the poor rabbit. Some people have lucky clothing they believe will bring them prosperity. There’s no harm in wearing your lucky shirt or your lucky underwear. It may even give you a boost of confidence and help you stick to your strategy.
What Is the Best Lucky Charm for Gambling?
I’ve got a cigar that was in my dad’s pocket when he died. I keep it by my keyboard, mostly to remind me of him. But maybe it’s a good luck charm. I could totally bring this to the casino with me, if it meant I’d have more confidence at the poker table.
What’s the best lucky charm for gambling?
This one’s easy. Any item you think will bring you luck is the best one for you to use. Is that a cop-out answer? Maybe – but it’s still accurate. That lucky penny you’ve carried with you forever – bring it. Got a pocket-sized statue of a saint that’s always brought you good favor? Stick it in your pocket. If there’s a common theme in this post, it’s that you should trust yourself when it comes to good and bad luck experiences.
What Is a Good Prayer for Gambling Luck? (Or Maybe a Psalm?)
Christianity doesn’t look too kindly on gambling, in general. That’s not to say that Christians don’t gamble. Some don’t, some do. But looking for a prayer or psalm to help with gambling luck is a tough task.
So – what is a good prayer or psalm for gambling luck?
I suggest any prayer or psalm related to good fortune can be switched around to be used for good gambling luck. Saint Cajetan is the patron saint of good fortune. A call to St. Catejan might work well for believers who are seeking good luck at the roulette wheel or the slot machine. Check out Catholic Culture’s novena to St. Catejan. It’s a set of prayers to be said across several days.
Okay, so it’s usually used to help people get jobs. Why shouldn’t it also work for gamblers seeking just a few more small wins?
My grandmother used to say the first verse of Psalm 92 when she bought lottery tickets. I don’t think it ever really worked for her, but it’s worth a shot.
What Should You Do to Attract a Fortune at the Casino?
The law of attraction is super-hot right now. It seems like everyone is manifesting this and insisting the universe give them that. Oprah famously thought her way into an expensive gift from Tiffany and Co. Okay, so it sounds goofy to some people. Who cares? It’s harmless fun.
Alright – what should YOU do to attract a fortune at the casino?
Manifesting requires a clear setting of goals. Imagine yourself hitting that big jackpot you’ve always wanted to hit. Think of how it would feel. Picture the win in your head. Manifest, in a sense, that victory in your head. The idea is that the universe works on something called the law of attraction. Attract positive energy to yourself and positive things will happen. The inverse is also true if you’re a true believer in the law of attraction. Negative energy will bring negative results. Avoid thinking negatively about how you play (“I always lose at this casino,” etc.) and stick to positive thoughts.
If it doesn’t work, all you’ve lost is a few minutes of thinking.
Which Days Are Lucky Gambling Days?
In some traditions, some days are luckier than others.
Which days are lucky gambling days for YOU?
That depends on who you ask and what you believe. The ancient Romans loathed even numbers so much that many refused to do any sort of gambling or even engage in business on certain even-numbered dates. They made up for it by gambling through the nose on odd-numbered dates. According to the Chinese lunar tradition, people born on the 13th and 27th of each month will be unusually lucky. If they were also born in an odd-numbered month, so much the better. Some people consider Leap Year days particularly lucky – after all, they only come around once every four years.
Gambling Luck & Astrology
According to astrology, the date of your birth (and the position of the planets and other stellar bodies at the time of your birth) can help you find your lucky day to gamble.
Gambling luck and astrology are a natural fit. Each sign of the Zodiac has lucky days. They’re based on a complicated blend of tradition, mythology, and numerology.
Here’s a breakdown of each Zodiac sign and their lucky gambling day:
- Aries – Tuesday
- Taurus – Friday
- Gemini – Wednesday
- Cancer – Monday
- Leo – Sunday
- Virgo – Wednesday
- Libra – Friday
- Scorpio – Tuesday
- Sagittarius – Thursday
- Capricorn – Saturday
- Aquarius – Saturday
- Pisces – Thursday
Interesting that Cancer is the only sign whose lucky day is Monday.
To me, that implies that Monday is a pretty unlucky day for most of the other signs.
If you like to dabble in astrology, it’s worth trying out a gambling trip around your lucky day. Track your performance and see if that day of the week brings you a little extra juice.
Gambling Luck & Feng Shui
The Chinese practice of feng shui has to do with how humans interact with their environment. It’s a rich cultural practice that combines spiritualism with practical design, and it takes people a lifetime to truly understand and master its practice.
Gambling luck & feng shui go together well, because a big part of feng shui is optimizing a person’s space for prosperity. Another word for prosperity, of course, is luck.
Most of the time in the modern age, feng shui is just a kind of interior design practice. If you’re really interested in using feng shui to improve your gambling luck, you’ve got a lot of reading to do.
Gambling and Bad Luck Streaks
Here’s an eye-opening statistic about gambling and bad luck streaks: for every hour of blackjack play, you’re likely to see at least one run of six losses in a row.
Even worse – in a three-hour blackjack session, you have about a 50% chance of losing 8 hands in a row.
This seems like really bad luck. It may even feel like you’re getting ripped off. But it’s just luck.
Gambling and bad luck streaks go together like bananas and pudding.
There’s good news, though.
You’re also likely to see long stretches of wins during those games. Play blackjack for three hours and you’re bound to have at least one run of six wins.
Ups and downs are part of the game. Gambling is a form of entertainment. You can’t win without losing. After all, casino jackpots have to come from somewhere. Most of the time you’re the guy filling the pot, but occasionally you win it.
Conclusion – How to Get Rid of Bad Luck in Gambling
If you have had a string of bad luck outcomes on a slot machine or at the craps table, you have a decision to make about how to get rid of bad luck in gambling.
Do you stick around, hoping to swing back toward a winning result? Do you take a break, stretch your legs, grab a bite to eat, and wait to go back and play more?
The answers to these questions have as much to do with your bankroll strategy as your constitution.
Remember that luck is a function of probability, not judgment from a god on high. Superstitions are fine if they give you confidence or make you feel comfortable at the table, but ultimately the casino is going to hand you less money than you hand to it.
That’s the nature of the business, and the nature of the variance baked into casino game rules.