When it comes to poker, many unexperienced players consider it simply a game of luck; however to the seasoned veteran there is far more than just luck at play on the poker table. If you ask any poker player who has been playing for a significant amount of time, you’ll probably find that they have their own unique “method” or “strategy” for playing. These strategies are often tried and tested through the years, and surprisingly are highly effective in some cases. In Pai Gow poker, however, you’ll find that it’s not just strategies players have developed themselves, but also strong superstitions that have passed from Asian culture.
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Pai Gow Poker Superstitions
Pai Gow is a unique and variation of poker that was invented in the 80’s and has increased dramatically in popularity ever since. It stems from the original domino game played by the Chinese called Pai Gow, and because of its close Chinese origin, many Asians favor this poker game and bring with them strong superstitions about poker and cards in general.
Red is a very popular color to wear in Pai Gow because the Chinese believe the color brings fortune and joy when you wear it. Additionally, red also symbolizes good luck and happiness which is why you’ll find it’s forbidden to wear at funerals and is a predominant color for the Chinese New Year. Often, Asian poker players (whether they’re playing Pai Gow poker or some other variation) will wear red underwear to improve their luck.
Numbers also play a huge role in Chinese culture, and why subsequently there are many superstitions around certain cards in Pai Gow Poker. Traditionally, there are several lucky numbers and then there are three numbers that are considered very unlucky:
· Two – the idea that good things come in pairs is strong in Chinese culture and why the number two is so popular.
· Three – a lucky number symbolizing the three stages in people’s lives.
· Five – there are five elements in Chinese culture, hence the reason why five is considered lucky. Additionally, you’ll find that there are five arches in the Forbidden City main entrance, and that the Emperor was often associated with the number five.
· Six – this is a number that represents wealth and is a lucky number.
· Seven – this is considered the luckiest number in the West as well as a very lucky number in Chinese culture.
· Eight – a very auspicious number and lucky number used both by businesses and in card games.
· Nine – this is another number that the you’ll often find in correlation with the Emperor of China and it also symbolizes harmony which is why it’s used in weddings frequently.
· Four – this word, in the Chinese language, sounds almost exactly the same as the word death does and, as such, is a very unlucky number in Pai Gow Poker.
· Five – this number, by itself, means ‘not’ and is considered unlucky. However, in cards and with number pairings, you can add it with others to mean something different. For example, a hand with a five and a four can mean no death and be very lucky!
Another superstition in Pai Gow Poker is to avoid counting your wins and losses during the game. This can incur bad luck and is quite impolite to other players especially if you’ve just won big.
Entering a Casino
Before even getting to the Pai Gow poker tables, you’ll need to keep in mind this somewhat unique little superstition. It’s the belief that you shouldn’t go into the main entrance of the casino because that’s where people exit. You’ll end up getting ‘loser’s luck’ if you happen to touch someone on their way out and you’ll have horrible luck at gambling that day. That’s why many go for alternate entrances.
Good luck charm
In Pai Gow Poker, you’ll find that many players (if not all) have some sort of good luck charm that they bring with them to play. Some have a traditional rabbit’s foot, others have a lucky bracelet or a talisman, while even others have a lucky unlit cigarette. The idea is that these good luck charms are supposed to increases your chances of winning and is very prevalent superstition in Pai Gow poker as well as card games across the board.
Overall there are countless superstitions in Pai Gow poker because the game’s origins were from a very popular Chinese dominos game. The Chinese culture, in general, is incredibly superstitious and has many rules, guidelines, and traditions on a myriad of things. From lucky numbers, to lucky colors, who knows if these superstitions are real, but enough of the players believe in them that there must be some grain of truth in there somewhere!
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