Chinese Superstitions in Baccarat
We’re all familiar with superstitions – the belief that an object or ritual will lead to either good luck or bad. Good luck superstitions include carrying a lucky rabbit’s foot or four-leafed clover, or the little rituals we undertake, like blowing on dice before we throw them. We’re also familiar with what to avoid – Friday the 13th, black cats and broken mirrors, for example. But how many Chinese superstitions are you familiar with? For example, did you know that for Chinese people, the number 4 is considered bad luck? This is because in spoken Mandarin and Cantonese, the number 4 is a homonym for death.
If you’re wondering what the connection is between Baccarat and Chinese superstitions, well, one reason is because Baccarat is not just popular amongst the high rollers of Europe anymore. Along with Pai Gow Poker, Baccarat is the most popular game among players from Hong Kong and mainland China – in Macau, Baccarat is responsible for over 80% of the total gaming revenue in 2008 – and these players bring their own unique flair, and superstitions, to this quintessentially European game.
The numbers 4 & 8
Casinos catering to Chinese players are becoming more and more common. Remember how earlier we mentioned that 4 is a bad luck number in Chinese culture? Well, just like you won’t see a 13th floor in an American elevator, it’s more and more likely that you won’t see a number 4 or 14 seat at the Baccarat tables.
On the other hand, the number 8 is considered a very auspicious number. (Remember that the 2008 Olympics, in Beijing, China, started on 08/08/08). Look for the number 8 seat to be the first taken at any Baccarat table frequented by Chinese players.
Take a look at Chinese players at a casino in Macau, and you might notice something a little unusual – players bending up corners or edges of their cards, or blowing on them. What’s the reason for this? Players believe that by engaging in these rituals, they can actually control the outcome of the deals. Blowing on the cards is a way to “blow away” bad luck, or undesired numbers. Keep in mind that bending up the card edges tends to crease them, rendering the cards unplayable in further games. This is allowable in the Macau casinos, but not likely something you’d see in U.S. casinos.
Another thing players do is look for trends, or patterns, in how the game is going. If they notice a player winning three or more hands in a row, they’ll bet on the player winning a fourth or fifth time. The opposite is also true – they’ll wager against a player who’s lost three or more in a row. Chinese players will also take their time checking out different tables, looking for particular trends.
Chinese players also like Baccarat because it’s the game with the lowest house advantage. Although that’s based more in fact than ritual or superstition, anything to tip the game in the player’s favor can only be considered a good thing.