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What’s Luck Got to do With It? Good Luck Charms & Totems

By Alex J. Coyne © 2018 Great Bridge Links

Most of us believe in luck and most of us believe lucky charms and lucky numbers can help us improve our luck.

From Serena Williams’ lucky socks to Tiger Williams’ red shirt, lucky charms are very common in the world of sport. But nowhere are lucky charms more popular than in the competitive world of cards.

Here’s what some card players have had to say about good luck charms, and what some of the professionals carry along to their games.

Alfred Sheinwold on Luck

Someone once said to me, “Luck is applied skill,” and bridge writer, teacher, and champion player Alfred Sheinwold apparently agrees:

“One way of dealing with misfortune is to search for the right lucky charm. Another way is to reach for a lesson.”

On Bridge from the Tucson Daily Citizen
04 February 1959

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It would appear that bridge players are among some of the least superstitious of card players around.

Daniel Negreanu

Top Poker player Daniel Negreanu is rumoured to have a few superstitions related to his game. To get himself into the right mindset for the World Series of Poker, he is said to binge-watch the Rocky-flicks in preparation. According to a post on FlopTurnRiver poker forum, Daniel also doesn’t accept $50 bills.

Sammy’s Cigarette

Poker pro Sammy Farha has seen many World Series of Poker tournaments in his time as a player – and he’s well-known for having an unlit cigarette on him during a great deal of his interviews and games. According to user Vinetou on TwoPlusTwo poker forum, the cigarette comes from a losing streak when someone offered him a cigarette. This apparently changed his losing streak into a winning one – and he’s done it ever since.

The Shark’s Shark

Another poker player notable for his superstition is Humberto Brenes, professionally better known as “the Shark.” He first began with Baccarat, though later moved to poker. Why is he called the Shark? Because he uses a toy shark as a card protector – and he also has a few other weird playing habits, like singing during play.

Doyle Brunson’s Light

What’s the weirdest lucky charm that you’ve ever seen during a game? This one is certainly odd: Poker veteran Doyle Brunson carries a Zippo lighter with the Ghostbusters logo as his good luck charm. It’s even been copied by some fans in an attempt to grab some of his luck. Does it work? It sure has for Doyle: But then again, it just might have been his strategy, too.

The Orange

Poker player Johnny Chan is known for carrying an orange to card games. Why on earth would someone do that? Simple, actually: A lot of poker rooms and casinos in Vegas used to be filled with smoke, and an orange turns into an air freshener that you can carry around pretty much anywhere. The fact that he owns a restaurant and knows the value of orange peel as a chef might just have something to do with it.

Lucky Numbers

In a recent survey conducted by Betway Casino, the nation’s luckiest numbers were revealed, providing insight into which numbers bring people in the UK the most good fortune in their lives.

Lucky charms and bingo

Nowhere are lucky charms more ubiquitous than at a game of bingo. For a bingo player it’s not as much about winning a cash prize as about the thrill of being lucky. Many players at bingo tables in casinos have lucky totems, special daubers, troll dolls, waving cats, mementos, famous dead people (Elvis anyone?) and more surrounding them.

What is your lucky charm?

We’re leaving the comments open on this article so you can tell us about your favourite charm. Do you carry something made of wood so you can knock on it for luck? Do you have a little picture of your daughter when she was a child taped to the back of your scorecard?

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What’s Luck Got to do With It? Good Luck Charms & Totems By Alex J. Coyne © 2018 Great Bridge Links Most of us believe in luck and most of us believe lucky charms and lucky numbers can

5 Best Lucky Charms In Poker

While poker is no doubt a game of skill, it never hurts to have Lady Luck on your side. When you’re chasing that inside straight draw and the odds are against you, having a good luck charm by your side to summon that all-elusive out card can sometimes be the difference between doubling up or getting cleaned out. We take a look at where and how some of the world’s most successful poker players draw their luck with the five best poker lucky charms.

Sammy Farha: Unlit Cigarettes

Poker, namely Texas Hold’em, exploded into the global eye in 2003 with the televising of an unforgettable World Series of Poker Main Event. Because of that, Sammy Farha instantly became one of the most recognizable faces of the game. Simply put, he had “the look.” The slicked back hair, the big ol’ gold chain – the Lebanese-born Farha personified old school poker. But in a move that’d make Will Smith proud, what really set him apart was the unlit cigarette he always had dangling from his mouth. Rumor has it, Farha was once enduring a rough session on the table but immediately had his fortunes turn when someone offered the notorious non-smoker a cigarette. The rest, as they say, is history. A classic duel and budding rivalry between him and eventual Main Event champion Chris Moneymaker was broadcast around the world, with the cigarette-toting Farha taking home $1.3 million for a runner-up finish. To this day, Farha and his unlit cigarette still remain on the Mount Rushmore of iconic looks for poker’s modern era.

Pius Heinz: Unwashed Hoodie

By not washing his clothes all the time, it’s not hard to tell that Pius Heinz is the millennial of the group. But not washing his now-famous white hoodie came with good reason… it was good luck! In 2011, a then-22-year-old Heinz enjoyed the fortune it brought him at the Main Event. So the plan was simple, keep on rocking it and keep on winning. The wild, 13-day wash-free ride culminated in the German hooded hero earning his first WSOP bracelet and the $8.7 million that came with winning the Main Event. We’re still not sure if Heinz has since washed the lucky garment, but we’re pretty sure we know how it smells… like sweet, sweet victory.

Daniel Negreanu: Binge-Watching “Rocky”

One of the most familiar faces in the game of poker doesn’t need a good luck charm with him at the table. Instead, he derives his luck before he takes his seat. The six-time WSOP bracelet winner channels what he feels is the proper inspiration and mindset heading into the World Series of Poker by watching the entire “Rocky” film series before the tournament begins. Seriously. Appreciating the motivational nature of the films and to never quit even when the chips are down, the all-time great film series has helped spur the man known as “Kid Poker” on to a career live tournament earnings north of a staggering $34 million. Negreanu may truly be the world’s biggest “Rocky” fan, having named his two adorable Yorkie puppies Rocky and Apollo in 2017. Negreanu has always had the eye of the tiger at the poker table… and now we know why.

Johnny Chan: An Orange

One of only four players to ever win the World Series of Poker Main Event in back-to-back years, Chinese superstar Johnny Chan is in the most rarified of air in the poker world. Chan began maybe the most dominant three-year WSOP run in history by becoming the first non-American born player to win the Main Event in 1987, repeated as champion in 1988, and finished runner-up in 1989. So what did Chan bring to the table to stay lucky? An orange… and its original intent was far more practical than luck-based! ‘The Orient Express’ would use the orange as an air freshener to sniff when the smell of smoke was too overpowering in the room. With smoking having since been banned at the World Series of Poker, Chan’s orange gained notoriety as one of poker’s luckiest charms and led him to induction in the Poker Hall of Fame.

Doyle Brunson: Casper The Lighter

Who better to finish with than arguably the most significant poker player of all-time? Amassing a whopping 10 WSOP bracelets including two Main Events, you’re hard-pressed to name a more influential figure in the game of poker than the Texas Dolly himself, Doyle Brunson. For decades, Brunson has brought a little black lighter with him to put on the table to protect his cards and chip stack. Donning the name Dolly just below the image of the “Ghostbusters” logo, Brunson’s cigarette lighter, known as “Casper” (yes, a totally different ghost), may be the most distinguished good luck charm in the poker universe. So renowned, in fact, that Brunson claims he’s made in excess of $15,000 renting it out to other players! Two-time WSOP bracelet winner Howard Lederer even paid Brunson $3,500 to have him write in his will that Lederer is to eventually take ownership of “Casper.” If that doesn’t tell you that luck is real, we don’t know what will.

While poker is no doubt a game of skill, it never hurts to have Lady Luck on your side. We take a look at how some of the world’s most successful poker players draw their luck from with the five best poker lucky charms.