Gambling seems to have always been a part of the human experience – from the Roman Empire to modern casinos on the Las Vegas Strip. And the notion of luck has been a huge part of the gambling life. Luck is certainly in the eye of the beholder, but after centuries of betting on sports, dice, playing cards, and of course, slot machines, differing symbols and artifacts have come to be synonymous with the idea of luck.
From a rabbit’s foot and horseshoes to clovers and rainbows, these and numerous other icons have come to symbolize good luck. While some choose to believe and others just bank on these for fun, many at least recognize the need or desire for some luck when hitting a casino or online gaming site.
Lucky charms and symbols are even incorporated into many slot machines, enticing players with an opportunity to hit it big. Here’s a quick look at some of the lucky charms and symbols one might experience either playing slots in a casino, online, or on a social gaming site.
This article explains the history and importance of the most popular lucky charms and symbols and explains how they are still relevant to slot players. Keep reading to learn everything you’ll need to know about some of the most common and popular lucky charms and symbols for slot players. Keep an eye out for some of these next time you head to the casino or play that real money or social slot game on a phone or mobile device.
NATURE SYMBOLS & NUMBERS
Symbols from nature have proven to be popular for centuries for those seeking a bit of luck when hitting the casino. Here’s a look at a few common symbols.
Clovers & Shamrocks
Chances are you’ve seen clovers and shamrocks in many casinos and slots. Some Irish-themed casinos even incorporate these into the decor of the property. Why are these small green plants considered lucky? The four-leaf variety is not only rare, but for hundreds of years, the Irish saw them as being even luckier for those who found one. The four leaves themselves were said to represent faith, hope, love, and success.
Lucky qualities: seeing spirits and fairies, warding off evil spirits, magical protections
Bonus spin: Famed author John Melton may have been one of the first to mention the luck of a four-leaf clover. He wrote in the 1600s: “If a man walking in the fields find any four-leaved grass, he shall in a small while after find some good thing.”
Seeing a rainbow, or better yet a rare double rainbow brings a smile to the faces of most people. These bright multi-colored spectacles may seem like a mystical phenomenon but are in fact a part of the real world. For that reason, along with their rarity, many cultures may see them as lucky.
It’s easy to see that connection to using these symbols in modern slot machines. These natural displays of a light spectrum have been featured in numerous mythologies and cultures including Celtic, Greek, Norse, Christianity, Buddhism, and more. These beautiful specters naturally appear as symbols of good luck – hopefully at a slot as well.
Lucky qualities: hope, promise, transition, peace, equality
Bonus spin: Much of rainbows’ lucky charms can also be attributed to the Irish, where legend has it one could find a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow.
Numbers play a role in luck in many cultures. Friday the 13th is considered a spooky day where things can go completely wrong. Some elevators don’t even have a 13th floor. Many people have a lucky number also, but 7s are synonymous with luck in a casino and especially at slot machines. This superstition seems to run across many cultures, especially in religious contexts.
There are also seven heavens in Islam and Judaism. In Confucianism, the number represents harmony made up of yin, yang, and the five elements. Hindus believe there are seven higher worlds and seven underworlds in and in Buddhism, the newborn Buddha takes seven steps.
Lucky qualities: harmony, magical powers, the afterlife, good fortune
Bonus spin: This lucky number even had some influence on James Bond author Ian Femimg. Apparently, 2, 5, or 8 wouldn't work for the spy’s secret code – 007 seemed a much better fit.
PHYSICAL THINGS & CULTURES
Some physical objects can also be held as a symbol of luck and incorporated into gambling imagery as well. Here’s a look at a few as well as an entire country and culture that are often related to being lucky.
These symbols have come to signify a lucky turn of events or need for a nice stroke of fortune. This symbol also fits well with horse race wagering. It’s believed this lucky charm dates back to the 8th Century.
The Chaldeans, who trace their roots to ancient Babylon, believed the crescent shape represented various moon goddesses and protected against the curse of the evil eye. Horseshoes were even featured on slot machine inventor Charles Fey’s first slot machine, the Liberty Bell, which was manufactured in 1899.
Lucky qualities: warding off evil spirits
Bonus spin: Others believe horseshoes’ luck comes from St. Dunstan, the patron saint of blacksmiths. He’s believed to have tricked the devil, shoeing Satan’s own cloven hoof with great force and pain.
How many poor rabbits lost their lives in the pursuit of luck? That might not be known, but carrying these devices on keychains remains popular for many seeking some positive vibes.
Some historians believe Celtic tribes believed rabbits could communicate with gods and spirits because they spent so much time underground. In turn, someone carrying a rabbit's foot could do the same. By the 1600s, some believed these lucky charms could stave off ailments like arthritis as well.
Some believe that notion comes from the “Hand of Glory” in the Middle Ages, which involved pickling the left hand of an executed man and keeping it for good fortune. The rabbit’s foot token of luck continues into modern times for some as well.
Lucky qualities: warding off evil spirits; keeping good health.
Bonus spin: Luckily for those poor bunnies, many rabbit feet now are artificially manufactured.
Along with being synonymous with wealth, gold seems to have taken on a sense of luck on its own. Many see wearing gold as lucky, but the idea of this may have deeper roots in the U.S. and Canada In the 19th Century. Americans from all parts of the country headed west to be part of the quickly-growing gold mining trade.
Those seeking their fortunes traveled to areas like California, Nevada, Colorado, Montana, New Mexico, Alaska, British Columbia, the Klondike, and more. Gold fever brought many hoping for some success. Gambling halls also sprouted up in these areas as well, serving miners with plenty of cash looking to play some cards, dice, or roulette.
Not only do many of these areas now offer casinos, including slot machines of course, but the spirit of gold fever stays alive with iconography of this precious metal still a major inspiration. A quick stroll through a casino will often yield many slots offering a chance at a gold strike.
Some casinos are still featuring gold in their own themes including properties like the Golden Nugget (Las Vegas), Gold Spike (Las Vegas), Cities of Gold (Arizona), Golden Gulch (Colorado), Gold Country (California), and numerous others.
Lucky qualities: wealth, success, money, good fortune
Bonus spin: In the early days of slot machines, gold coins could actually be used in the U.S. as a form of currency. Some slots were built to even accept this form of payment.
Perhaps no other country or culture is associated with luck as that of Ireland. “The luck of the Irish” has become a regular part of the English language and many of the lucky charms on this list are also associated with the country such as shamrocks, rainbows, and leprechauns.
In fact, there have been at least four films produced through the years with that exact phrase as the title. The idea of Irishmen being lucky, however, may have more to do with the North American gold rush than anything.
In fact, it’s to America that we may have to look for the origins of the expression 'the luck of the Irish', IrishCentral.com notes
That success became a legend and the Irish have been seen as lucky ever since. Casinos and slot manufacturers have played up the stereotype of Irishmen and the Emerald Isle.
Lucky qualities: successful, rich, timeliness.
Bonus spin: Numerous casinos have modeled their properties after all things Irish, such as O’Sheas in Las Vegas and Fitzgerald's, a brand used in multiple U.S. states.
Animals can play a role for many when it comes to thoughts of bringing about a lucky streak. The same can be said for non-existent creatures, animals, and fairies as well.
These mythical beasts are seen as lucky in several cultures. Through the years, many people in Asian countries view dragons as symbols of power and good luck. Some have even seen them as controlling water-related weather such as rain, typhoons, and floods. Their mythical sense of luck is still recognized by many.
For this reason, dragons are regularly featured in numerous slot games, especially those with Asian-inspired themes. Contrary to Asian culture, many Western countries view dragons as dark, mysterious, and even evil. This may actually add to Western gamblers' interest in dragon slots as well.
Lucky qualities: good health, strength, power
Bonus spin: The creature is also the fifth animal in the Chinese zodiac and symbolizes good luck and health. More babies are said to be born in the year of the dragon than in any other.
These mythological one-horned and flying creatures have fascinated people throughout history. The legendary animals have been depicted in European culture and art for over a thousand years, and are said to have magical powers.
Many ancient people believed unicorns, usually depicted with a white coat with a single horn, represented purity and grace. They also believed the mystical animals could heal the sick, among other powers often ascribed to them. Some argue that unicorns even allude to several times in the Bible.
Lucky qualities: purity, grace, strength, healing powers, and more.
Bonus spin: Hermit country North Korea claimed to have “discovered” a unicorn lair in 2012. The North Koreans seem to be living in a real fantasy world. This propaganda was likely meant to help legitimize the rule of Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un.
These supernatural beings come from Old Irish folklore and represent luck. The oldest known mention of leprechauns comes from the Echtra tale in which Fergus, the King of Ulster, falls asleep on the beach. He awakens to find three leprechauns dragging him out to sea. Instead, he captures the mythological trio, which then grants him three wishes for their release.
The diminutive creatures are believed to be cobblers and mostly live a solitary existence, but also enjoy practical jokes. In Ireland, these fairies originally differed depending on which part of the country you were in. They also wore red clothing, not the green they typically wear in modern depictions
These popular shoemakers are also said to own a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow. Those lucky enough to capture a leprechaun are entitled to these riches.
Lucky qualities: wealth, riches, magical powers
Bonus spin: Leprechauns have come to be represented in two American sports teams. The University of Notre Dame, known as the fighting Irish, features a leprechaun who helps fans cheer on the home team. The Boston Celtics NBA franchise also Lucky the Leprechaun. A popular American kids’ cereal, Lucky Charms, also features one of these magical creatures as well.
Whether one really believes in luck or not, many slot players and gamblers believe certain objects and icons come with some extra positivity. The belief goes that these lucky charms just might bring a nice winning session or perhaps an even bigger win – a nice jackpot perhaps.
Open up your favorite slot game or take a seat at a slot machine in a casino. Which of these popular lucky charms can you recognize when spinning those reels?