Can luck really influence the outcome of events? Athletes clearly think so: Many baseball players have talismans they carry around with them and perform elaborate rituals before getting up to bat. Investors are also superstitious (and their lucky charms haven’t been working lately).

In the April 29th edition of the Wall Street Journal, Carl Bialik writes about German researchers who tested this by telling a group of golfers that some of them were playing with “lucky balls.” Those who thought their balls were lucky sank more putts than those who thought they had regular balls. Bialik quotes psychologist Stuart Vyse as saying, “Simply being told this is a lucky ball is sufficient to affect performance.”

Researcher Lysann Damisch agrees. Bialik quotes her as saying, “Our results suggest that the activation of a superstition can indeed yield performance-improving effects.”

Poker players aren’t relying on lucky carms: A recent study found that 80% percent of them around the world reported using drugs and other substances to enhance their performance in poker (And we thought it was just bikers and baseball players!)

But unlike athletes, they don’t go in for human growth hormone: Poker players are using drugs such as marijuana, cocaine, amphetamines, Valium, and other prescription medications, as well as substances including caffeine, such as energy drinks, to get an edge over their opponents.

The researchers initially interviewed players in Las Vegas during the World Series of Poker and then surveyed players online from across the globe, including North America, Europe, and Asia, with the majority of respondents coming from the US and Canada. Respondents included professional poker players, semi-pro, amateur, and recreational players.

Regardless of one’s status, an overwhelming majority of poker involves some amount of money, according to researcher Kevin Clauson. The players surveyed played poker, largely no-limit Texas hold ’em, both in person and on the Internet. Most were males in their mid-20s. About 73% of the respondents said they used drugs and other substances to focus and concentrate better.

And talismans can only help in situations like sports, where people’s actions can affect the outcome (thus a lucky charm is NOT effective when betting on a horse race, for instance). In the Wall Street Journal, Carol Bialik quotes mathematician Arthur Benjamin as saying, “There are no long-term successful craps players.”

Anne Strieber has had some experience with both good AND bad luck! Did you know that she had her OWN radio show, “Mysterious Powers,” from 2004 to 2005? Now subscribers can listen to all 19 of those shows, including her interview with Richard Wiseman, the scientist who studied who WHY some people are lucky and others aren’t.

To learn more, click here, here and here.

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