The Mystery of Beginner’s Luck



I’m not a big fan of gambling.  Mostly because losing money is no fun.   I am not lucky when it comes to gambling.  Lottery tickets are a total waste.  The few times I visited a riverboat casino I ended up throwing money away.  I thought to myself…what is the appeal in all of this?   I’m just giving money away to the casino.   I’d rather waste my money on more worthwhile vices…like cigars!

However, one thing I have noticed, both personally and from other’s tales, is the reality of beginner’s luck.  Beginner’s luck really is a mystery.  I will relate a few of my own experiences with this mysterious form of luck.

The first time I ever gambled was long ago at a casino in Atlantic City.  I’d wander around looking at all the gaudy games and I knew I didn’t understand their rules.  I figured I’d try roulette, since that is easy enough to understand.   I discovered it was not complicated to guess black or green on the roulette wheel.   I was winning much more often then losing.  The guy running the table started to look funny at me, as if I were somehow cheating.  Then I got distracted, I forget by what.  After that…I lost whatever luck I had but still left with winnings.  I thought…how easy this is!  Unfortunately, that luck never returned.

lucky-horseshoeRecently I went to a horse race track for fun.  Gambling was really not the point; it was something fun to do.  Again, I knew nothing about gambling on horses.  I spent time trying to figure out how to place a wager…it was baffling at first.    I’d look at the horse sheet they gave out, and the odds on the TV screens, trying to decipher the winner.  Hmmm…I like THAT name!   Strangely enough, I picked the first place winner six times in eight races.   I recognized how odd this was.  When the first horse finished first…it was yippee.  But by the 5th win, I knew something very weird was going on…beginner’s luck.  I never had the slightest expectation of winning.

My last example was at ChuckE’s Cheese’s of all places.   A few weeks ago I was attending a child’s birthday party.  At this place they have all kinds of games.  The men folk gravitated an arcade game version of ‘Deal Or No Deal’.  We’d pick one ‘case’ on the screen; the top prize was worth 80 tickets.   The first time I tried it, I was surprised I picked the top prize case…yippee.  When I tried it again later, I picked the top  case once again.  Again I thought it odd.   It really didn’t matter to me personally how many tickets I won.

Lucky Coins

Lucky Coins

I’ve heard of similar stories from other people as well.  I will offer a theory, but it’s only a guess.  I suspect that everyone has some level of precognitive ability.  These are not conscious abilities.  These senses hover somewhere in the background, usually drowned out by the humdrum and rattle of everyday life.  Sometimes they emerge, like when a parent senses their child is in danger away from home, and later discovers such was the situation.  Animals seem to have this sense.  There are many stories of dogs sensing their owner is approaching home and wait for them at the door before they arrive, even at odd times.  I’ve seen this actually filmed on television.

Is a sixth sense part of life’s evolutionary survival kit?  If so, it is not obvious or controllable.  It is elusive and fleeting.  Beginner’s luck seems to work because there are no expectations of winning…no pressure.  The mind is open, trying to absorb new information, to learn the rules and figure out what’s going on.  In that openness…something else drifts in too, that part of our survival instincts kept under wraps by our logical minds.

Lucky Rabbit's Foot

Lucky Rabbit's Foot

Beginner’s luck seems to work in a counter-intuitive way.  The more we desire something, the less likely it will happen.  Desire seems to extinguish this “luck”.   Beginner’s luck seems to work exactly because there are no expectations.   Is it possible to train ourselves to be open to an old experience as if it were a new experience?

People often carry good luck charms or have good luck rituals.  That is called superstition.  Maybe superstition is an attempt to tap into this intuition once again, even if we really don’t understand what is going on.  We call it luck, good or bad.

Do we make our own luck?

3 Responses to “The Mystery of Beginner’s Luck”

  1. Stephanie Says:

    You know what, even my beginner’s luck sucks. My theory is that it’s all saving up; when it comes, it’ll come in big.

    Also, I don’t gamble.

  2. David Says:

    Stephanie, I find gambling is about as much fun as poking myself with a sharp stick. I suppose if people have money to burn, fine. But to just throw it away…its too hard to earn!

  3. DrDeb Says:

    Excellent article about beginner’s luck, thank you! I’ve been blogging about pretty heavy topics (e.g., the skyrocketing water bills around the globe — eek!) and it was a joy to read this article. Thanks!

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