Chinese New Year Superstitions

Gambling traditions for the new year

The events of this day and the decisions you make on it will have an influence on the coming year.

If you gamble over the New Year holiday, it's wise to follow traditions built up over centuries.

While many young Chinese today may no longer believe in these guidelines, they are still respected and practiced by more mature gamblers.

What to do
  • Wear red underwear or undergarments when gambling.
  • Switch on all the lights at home before you go out to gamble.
  • Behind every gaming table is a baby ghost. Feed the ghost (i.e. with sugar) and the ghost can help you to win or will not stop you from winning.
  • When playing baccarat, players should call out the word Deng (Cantonese) or Ding (Mandarin) prior to opening the card(s).
  • Pray and/or make an offering to the god(s) before you go for your major casino trip.

What not to do
  • Dont tell others that you have to read books when they are gambling. The word 'book' sounds similar to 'lose'.
  • Dont count the money that you gain or loss during gambling.
  • Dont hit or touch someone's shoulder(s) while he or she is gambling.
  • For males, stay far away from sex (or females) before gambling.
  • Dont try to be a winner at the very beginning, or you will lose a lot of money in the end.

How to get luck for the coming year
  • If you can be debt free going in to the New Year then you will be debt free for the rest of the year.
  • As a New Year's meal, noodles are perfect as the length of them will represent the length and happiness of your year long luck - the longer noodle the better.
  • Arguing and crying on New Year's day will lead to a year full of tears and resentment.
  • Don't use knives or other sharp implements as this could lead to you slicing up all your good luck.
  • The word 'shoe' sounds like 'rough' so if you need to buy a new pair of shoes, do so before the holiday as this will prevent you from hitting rough patches in the year.
  • Don't wash your hair on the first day of the year as you risk washing away all your good luck.
  • Don't cut your hair in the first week as you risk cutting up all your luck.


The article above is based on the excellent work of Desmond Lam, Assistant Professor at the University of Macau, China, who is widely recognised as one of the world's leading authorities on Asian gambling.