Top 10 Weirdest Lucky Charms Pros Have Brought to the Table

5 years ago
Weirdest Lucky Charms Pros Have Brought to the Table
08 Sep


Not being the superstitious type myself, I was surprised when I started out in the game by just how many poker players felt they needed that little bit of extra help when it came to running good. Lucky charms, weird behavior and strange beliefs are actually a huge part of the game – and here we’ll look at some of the odd things poker pros bring to the table in the hope that Lady Luck will shine on them!

Let’s start with some really well-known players and their tokens of choice…

Sammy and his smokes

Sammy is one of the most-famous players of the older generation, a regular on the High Stakes Poker TV show and a character who wouldn’t look out of place in old Mafia-type poker table scenes.

He will always be seen with an unlit cigarette dangling from his lips, and like many I thought it was just an ex-smokers reminder of what he is missing, But no, the suave and suited Sammy doesn’t smoke, never has apparently, and the hanging cigarette is just part of his poker schtick!

And another small detail which gives away his superstitious side – when he’s winning he keeps the same cigarette, but when the chips are spewing he changes it for a new one! The brand? I haven’t quite worked that one out yet – if you know write it in the comments section below!

Johnny Chan’s orange

I like bananas myself, but the ‘Orient Express’ Chan – a 10-times WSOP bracelet winner – will always be seen with an orange with him at the table. Why? Well, it’s because in the good old days casinos were smoke-filled dens, requiring a knife to cut through the fug to see the cards!

Chan managed to keep a clear ahead amid the cigarette brigade by smelling the orange, and it seems to have done the trick over the years – Chan has pulled in almost $9million in tournament cashes alone. Unfortunately my banana hasn’t helped me quite so much!

Doyle busts ghosts

Legendary poker pro Doyle ‘Texas Dolly’ Brunson is one of the old-school masters of the game who believes that luck requires a bit of help, and you can’t argue with a man who has been as successful as he has.

Casper is his friend of choice, a Ghostbuster-logo card protector which he even rents out to other players in need of a bit of help - $200 a pop for half-an-hour seems rather a lot, and what Doyle does when someone else is winning with his lucky charm isn’t clear – but poker players aren’t always the most sensible of people it would seem! Still, if it keeps the ghosts from Doyle’s door, then the gun-toting old-timer seems happy enough.

Nani’s annoying mouse

Kun ‘Nani’ Dollison was a new name to me, but the Korean-born US pro is actually a 3-time WSOP bracelet winner with close to $1million to her name in winnings, taking down the $2K event in 2001. What separates her from some other great players of the older generation is her habit of bringing a mechanical mouse to the table!

Now the word mechanical might give it away here, but Nani often lets the big rodent (which has blinking eyes) wander about the table. In my casino it would last exactly 10 seconds before being crushed to smithereens by annoyed fellow players, but apparently Nani’s lucky charm has survived many a game – maybe it was the stunt double for ‘The Green Mile’!

Just when you thought it was safe to go back to the poker table!

In games and sports the world over, being called a shark is unlikely to get you a lot of action from those in the know, but for Humberto Brenes it’s just another part of his routine, bright tracksuits and gregarious behavior at the table coupled with his toy shark card protector.

The Shark is his nickname, but it’s the toy which does a lot of the talking when Brenes is winning, the pro using it to belittle and annoy his fellow players! Another lucky charm which wouldn’t be long for this world in Scotland, but it seems to have survived to at least the ‘5th sequel’ stage in Brenes’ Florida playground.

Minieri’s football mascot

Casinos tend to be hot places in my experience, so the thought of being wrapped up in a woollen scarf pains me to think about, but for the Italian poker maestro Dario Minieri it’s a matter of local pride that he wears his Roma scarf whenever he plays.

A huge fan of his favorite soccer team back home, his purple and gold-coloured neckwear not only makes him easy to spot from a distance, but seems to have helped his game –but he insists that it isn’t a lucky charm:

"The scarf is not a luck thing,” he explained. “It’s just that I am proud to be from Rome and I don’t want to forget that.”

Michelob? F*** that s**t!

For anyone who has ever seen the movie Blue Velvet, the classic line - with Heineken instead of Michelob - comes to mind whenever we see someone drinking piss-poor beer!

Scotty Nguyen, a man not averse to drinking at the table while piling up the chips, is partial to the ‘Ultra’ version of his favorite Michelob beer – and quite how he hasn’t been sponsored by his ‘lucky’ mascot’ is a mystery.

Alcohol in general seems to be one of the more popular totems poker pros use to aid their game, but for your writer the mixing of beer and supposedly good strategic play simply doesn’t work. And being Scottish, the free coffee all night instead of paying for the stronger stuff is naturally a bonus!

Heinz’s 57 varieties? No chance!

Everyone has their favorite outfit – mine (the Borat mankini) doesn’t often get past casino security unfortunately – but hopefully for 2011 Main Event champion Pius Heinz he at least washed his at some point during his 7-day run to the title!

His mother actually left the theatre during the final table, claiming the stress was too much – though whether she meant because of the money involved or the sight of a dirty hoodie isn’t clear.

The hoodie was seen every single day during the event, and he even had his followers on the rail wear them too – and it worked! No doubt he spent at least some of his $8,715,368 winnings on a new wardrobe.

Eye of the tiger!

Thankfully it’s not a real one which Daniel ‘Kid Poker’ Negreanu brings to the table, but the Canadian superstar firmly believes that watching Rocky movies prior to playing in WSOP events brings him good vibes.

Fortunately for his opponents Daniel is a skinny strip of a guy, so the sight of him dressed like Rocky Balboa with boxing gloves at the table is unlikely to ever be a problem, but with his skill and earnings the ‘luck factor’ already seems to be taken care of.

Trumper trumps Trump

The English pro Simon Trumper is no stranger to bling, and he always bring shis gold and diamond aces to the table to protect his cards. Known by the nickname ‘Aces’ himself, the lucky mascots have helped him to over $1million in earnings and a director’s job at the Dusk Til Down casino in Nottingham.

A close friend of the late, great Dave ‘Devilfish’ Ulliot, it was always a battle between the two for whose lucky charms were the most ‘blingy’, although in my book Devilfish’s diamond encrusted knuckledusters win hands down every time!

Do you have a lucky charm which you bring to appease the poker gods? If so, let us all know what it is below in the comments section!

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Andrew from Edinburgh, Scotland, is a professional journalist, international-titled chess master, and avid poker player.Read more


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