Pool Superstitions and Billiards Beliefs
Stacy Smith
Feb. 5, 2018

No matter what sport you play, there will be a set of superstitions attached. Billiards and Pool are no exceptions.

 

Where did superstitions in sports come from?

 

For as long as there have been sports, there has been superstition. It stems from the idea of “luck” and “bad luck”. In fact, the word “jinx” has its origins in sports. In 1911 the term was coined in baseball by Alan Sangree. In his book entitled The Jinx, Sangree wrote “But the ball players instantly knew the truth. "A jinx, a jinx," they whispered along the bench. "Cross-eyed girl sittin' over there back o' third. See her? She's got Th' Dasher. Holy smoke, look at them eyes!"

 

Ever since 1911, the idea of jinxes and luck really took hold in sports. While being superstitious is harmless, there are some truly bizarre sports superstitions. In billiards and pool, the most famously superstitious players include Big Bill Werbeniuk and Alex “Hurricane” Higgins.

 

Common sports superstitions:

 

Within sports, most superstitions revolve around clothing or rituals. A ritual is an action undertaken in the belief it will influence an outcome of an event. So much for “hard work and skill”.  Clothing superstitions stem around specific items of clothing. Tiger Woods is known for wearing a red shirt when he plays at tournaments on Sundays.

 

Tennis pro Serena Williams is another sport star who has a clothing ritual. Despite a tournaments duration, Serena Williams will not change her socks. Besides a players own self-inflicted rituals, there are other superstitions attached to certain sports. English snooker player Ronnie “Rocket” O’ Sullivan apparently practices his golf swing with his cue before matches.

 

Baseball

 

 * Lending a bat to a team mate is considered unlucky

 * It is considered good luck for a player to spit into their hand before picking up their bat

 

Billiards

 

 * Chalking your cue whilst your opponent is playing brings bad luck

 * Removing the chalk from view when taking a shot is meant to be good luck

 

Golf

 

 * It is bad luck for a golfer to change their hat during a tournament

 * Carrying coins around is meant to bring good fortune

 

Who are the most superstitious people in the world?

 

Knocking sport stars off the top spot are gamblers. From beginner’s luck to unlucky streaks casino games are the epicentre for superstition. Slots and poker players in particular are the most superstitious gamblers.

 

Slots

 

Although designed to provide entertainment, slots inspire a lot of superstition. In land based casinos it is common to see slots players refuse $50 dollar bills. This is done purely because $50 dollar bills are said to be unlucky. Online casino players also follow their own superstitions. When choosing slots, it is good luck to choose games with ‘luck’ or ‘lucky’ in the title.

 

Poker

 

After slots players, poker players are pretty superstitious. It is very popular for poker players to wear lucky clothing or carry good luck charms. Several poker player’s lucky charms have made the news.

 

Beginner’s Luck in Billiards

 

Beginner’s luck is theory that new players experience a higher frequency of luck. The idea of ‘beginner’s luck’ is most commonly seen in sports and gambling.

 

Earl ‘The Pearl’ Strickland is perhaps the best example of beginner’s luck in billiards. Earl began playing billiards at the age of 9, competing at age 15. However, rather than citing luck Earl attributes all of his success to hard work and practice. In 2006, Strickland was inducted into the Billiards Congress of America’s Hall of Fame. Proving while he may have had a ‘lucky start’, real success comes from years of playing.