The Strangest Superstitions in Poker

Hands holding cards with casino chips and a smartphone on a green casino table.

Poker is known to be a game of skill, with players outwitting their opponents using logic and math, but did you know that poker players – even the pros – are quite superstitious? From lucky chip stacking to preferring a certain seat at the table, there’s no shortage of rituals and lucky trinkets on the felt, even in online poker. 

Most players, whether they play online poker or any other online casino games, like to feel they’re able to control and influence random events by bringing some extra luck with them to the table, in whichever way they think will work. Some players have a little lucky charm they carry around with them or place on their cards, and some have rituals and traditions they can’t skip when preparing for an online poker tournament – because if they don’t stick to them, the cards won’t fall the way they need to for a good run. 

Let’s take a look at some of the more common – and, of course, some of the most bizarre – poker superstitions ever to make it to the table.

Lucky card protectors

By far the most common superstition, or lucky charm, in poker is the “lucky card protector.” Online poker players might not see too many of these, since there are no physical cards to protect, but take a seat at any poker table in a casino and you’ll likely see some strange and wonderful little trinkets resting on (or “protecting”) your opponents’ cards. 

Having a card protector isn’t always a sign of being superstitious, though: some people simply feel more confident having a little charm with them, which is usually good for their mentality at the table. Some players, of course, do tend to take their luck quite seriously and will even refuse to sit down at the table if they’ve forgotten to bring their card protector. Doyle “Texas Dolly” Brunson, a poker legend, author, and two-time WSOP (World Series of Poker) champion, carries a card protector to every poker game he plays. Brunson’s trinket of choice is a small rectangular stone with a Ghostbusters logo printed on it, and “Dolly” written underneath. He has even been known to rent it out to other players, who are either running bad or feel their luck needs a bit of a boost… for $200 for 30 minutes. That may seem like a steep price, but considering the amount of “luck” it has brought Doyle in the form of poker tournament winnings, it’s likely worth every penny.

Lucky chip stacking

Every player at a poker table fiddles with or riffles their chips; whether they roll them in their fingers, or stack and restack them in one hand on the table, the air is constantly alive with the clicking of chips being stacked. It’s safe to say that poker players love playing with their chip stacks, and some of them need them to look a certain way if they want them to be lucky.

Some players will have very specific rules for their chip stacking, such as never stacking more than 10 or 20 in a single pile, or even building stacks on top of others. Other players like to keep mixed stacks, which might be lucky for them but can also be problematic for the table, as it makes counting their chips much more difficult than neatly ordered stacks. Online poker players have it easy, since the software stacks and displays your chips automatically, but it wouldn’t surprise anyone if most players taking part in online poker tournaments have a stack of lucky chips handy to fiddle with while they play, and grant them that bit of luck they need to suck out when a bluff goes bad.

Wearing your luck

Man in a blue hoodie at a casino table showing a pair of aces with a large stack of casino chips.

Another massively popular superstition among poker players, including those playing poker online, is having lucky clothes. It could be a hat, a hoodie, or a pair of lucky socks, but it will be worn to every game. As far as superstitions go, this one isn’t the most out there, and can likely be chalked up to players feeling confident in their favorite piece of clothing; but some players take it to the extreme.

Pius Heinz, winner of the 2011 WSOP Main event, wore the same (filthy) white hoodie for his entire seven-day run to the title. Even his fans and family who were watching from the rails wore white to show their support for his superstition, though his mother had to leave the venue either due to the stress of the game, or because she couldn’t stand the sight of her son in such a filthy hoodie! Hopefully, Heinz has put a portion of his $8.7 million poker tournament winnings towards buying a few spare hoodies for next time.

Lucky rituals

When it comes to superstitions, these rituals, traditions, or behaviors that players exhibit can be a bit more out there than simply wearing a lucky white hoodie for a week straight. A lot of poker professionals have got their own little rituals and behaviors that they believe bring them the luck they need, even when playing poker games online. Daniel “Kid Poker” Negreanu, six-time WSOP bracelet winner and two-time WPT (World Poker Tour) champion, watches Rocky movies prior to sitting down at games, even when he’s playing online poker tournaments. While Negreanu isn’t quite the size of Rocky Balboa, and is likely not as handy in a fight, opponents are still intimidated by him at the tables. The success of his career, and the massive lifetime poker tournament winnings he has earned can’t all be chalked up to his skill at the table, can it?

Test your luck at Borgata Online

Whatever you use to get a lucky edge on the sharks at the table, bring it along to the tables at Borgata Online! Register with us to gain access to some of the best online poker games available, as well as seats in our daily and weekly online poker tournaments.