Sometimes the simplest of phrases can succinctly convey far-reaching wisdom. When it comes to gambling, everyone from great philosophers and novelists to modern-day comedians and movie script writers has had something to say on the subject – whether wise, funny, or thought-provoking.
The industry has grown from its origins 5,000 years ago to the worldwide phenomenon we know today. The sayings, idioms, and quotes have continued to evolve over the centuries. With certain phrases now embedded in every gambler's vocabulary – hit the jackpot, play your cards right, up the ante, poker face et al.
The one that's NOT about gambling
However, you might be surprised to learn that the iconic quote "Quit while you're ahead" was not made about gambling. In fact, 17th-century philosopher Baltasar Gracián y Morales was referring to the tremendous risks his Spanish compatriots were taking in their quest to discover and explore new territories and open new trade routes. His warning was to settle for what you've got and stop the potentially fatal desire to gain more.
Still, it's a phrase that's been adopted by the gambling community and one of many that have also transferred seamlessly into the lexicon of everyday life. So, we've put together a few of our favorite lesser-known words of gambling wisdom from around the world - see how many you've heard before.
Luck be a lady…
From ancient times to the here and now, gambling on anything from table games to the slots and sports betting has been a game of chance and, many think, a hefty dose of luck plays its part too.
Take professional poker player Phil Hellmuth who knows that, however good you are, it's often luck that wins or loses the game - "If there weren't luck involved, I would win every time." James Bond creator Ian Fleming had a different take on a player's ability - "In gambling, the deadly sin is to mistake bad play for bad luck."
Along the "quit while you're ahead" philosophy, this Yiddish proverb teaches us to be happy with what we have and not chase for more - "Better an ounce of luck than a pound of gold." The Swedish proverb "Luck never gives, it only lends" agrees with the German proverb "Luck sometimes visits a fool, but it never sits down with him."
One whose words point towards luck being more about skill was the Roman philosopher Seneca - "Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity." The modern American version of that view is "It is better to trust in knowledge than in luck."
Know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em,
Any pro or amateur gambler should take Kenny Rogers' traveling companion's advice. World-famous poker player Dan Reed certainly brought those lyrics to life when he said, "You will show your poker greatness by the hands you fold, not the hands you play." And this Chinese proverb is gambling wisdom in a nutshell - "If you must play, decide on three things at the start: the rules of the game, the stakes, and the quitting time." Quite simply, before you even start, decide when you'll stop. After all, "Hoping to recoup is what ruins the gambler" according to this Irish proverb. If you're on a losing streak, it's time to walk away.
This captures the element of rivalry that exists when playing against an opponent in an online casino game like poker – "At the gambling table, there are no fathers and sons." Author Terry Pratchett's tongue-in-cheek view was "It's not gambling to play against someone who's no good. It's common sense." This leads us neatly to this quote from the gambling movie Rounders: "If you can't spot the sucker in the first half-hour at the table, then you are the sucker."
Nobody has ever bet enough on a winning horse
There are so many well-known gambling phrases out there that we thought we'd bring you a few you might not be familiar with. Here at BonusFinder, you know that we only condone responsible gambling where you set your limits and play in a safe setting. "A dollar won is better than a dollar earned" certainly sums up the fun and thrill of sensible gaming, but we'll leave you with this last classic proverb to bear in mind:
"Never perform card tricks for the people you play poker with."