The Curse of the Two-Dollar and the Fifty-Dollar Bill: Revealed

Superstition of the 50-Dollar Bill Bad Luck

When something is rare, people either hate it or adore it; no one is indifferent about the two-dollar and the fifty-dollar bill though. The gambling community — being a superstitious bunch — absolutely hates the duo.

Why Gamblers Love to Hate the Two-Dollar Bill

Gamblers are one of the strangest people in the world. It’s not that they look odd or act weird. It’s their many, many superstitious that makes them a bit cray-cray. There are many commonly known rituals and anti-jinx amulets they like to rely on. But, once the gambling community defines an item or certain acts as a stroke of bad luck, it’s instantly accepted among them. Seriously, this thing spreads like a virus, or worse — the Despacito song. Once it gets inside a gambler’s mind, they can never go back.

You would be amazed as to how many people worldwide take, almost for granted, some rather silly beliefs. However, they make the perfect writing material. Among all the other interesting topics I came across, one of the silliest ones comes from the United States. I know what you’re thinking — how come it’s not made in China? Well, our good Chinese friends have some of the most potent superstitions, but this time, we shall focus on the States and the two-dollar bill bad luck issue.

As it happens, gamblers think that a particular object can inherent good or bad luck. One specific denomination of currency went through a great exodus since it saw the light of day. The infamous two-dollar bill suffered immensely. No one wants it. No one needs it. Try to hand it to the homeless person in search for some change; they’ll probably spit on you. Especially if they used to be gamblers, and it cost them their entire belongings. They probably ended up there due to gambling with the two-dollar bill in the first place.

Alas, the two-dollar bill’s curse goes beyond the casino gaming floors. Taco Bell has its fair share of stories about how they refused to accept these bills, and so does Clerks. The ill fortune of this denomination of currency is like that of a high school outcast. Ok, to be fair, the unfair campaign against this wretched piece of paper isn’t the same throughout the U.S.; there are states which note a strong presence of the bill, while some others don’t have it in circulation at all.

The Only Bill in the World Which No One Wants

50-Dollar Bill

Over the past couple of years, a certain lady decided to conduct a social experiment. She used the two-dollar bill myth and put it to the test. She went to her bank and withdrew all her money in the form of two-dollar bills.

Every time she paid for something, she would use them, and then snap a photo of the recipient’s face. These reactions were then shared on her website for everyone to see. She noted that the moment someone saw the bill, there would be an awkward silence and surprise on their faces. Occasionally, their eyes would light up, sometimes the person would gasp, and almost everyone would say “Oh, how fortunate — the two-dollar one!”

Here is a fun fact — did you know that there are over 11 billion one-dollar bills, 1.9 billion ten-dollar bills, 8.1 billion twenty-dollar bills, and 10.01 billion one hundred dollar bills? They are all in circulation as we speak. However, it’s not always a positive thing. Even though the whole Taco-Bell-employee-refusing-the-bill is nothing but an urban myth, the lady who conducted the social experiment claims to have witnessed vending machines and retailers who refused to accept this currency.

We all agree that it is against the law to refuse a legit bill. But perhaps it’s not all about bad luck in this case. You see, many store owners live in fear of counterfeit bills; especially the rare ones. It’s understandable because rumor has it that the whole issue of cursed bills started with them being counterfeited in the first place. And since you don’t see them as much, who’s to blame if they are scared of a thing they know nothing about?

On the other hand, if it’s a fake one, you only lose two bucks; who cares? Hence, there must be something more. Is the curse, in fact, true?

Two Cursed Siblings

It is safe to say that no one is left indifferent when they get a chance to see this bill. I’ve given my best to find for some real-life stories and examples of people’s lives going south because they had close contact with this bill. However, there were only urban myths, legends, a guy knows a guy whose friend believes that his life went bananas after gambling with the two-dollar bill.

Either way, we already said that these bills are pretty rare within the States. You can imagine how the rest of the world is oblivious of the fact that these little babies even exist. It’s no wonder that the two-dollar bill causes an instant reaction from the get-go. And trust me, this happens every single time. The government of the United States did their best to try and convince the residents to use the bill but never had any success with it.

It is a grand misery for this green piece of paper. But believe it or not, folks, the twosies aren’t the only ones suffering a great injustice. Their sibling — the fifty-dollar bill shares the same faith. For this one, we could almost understand the people who refuse to use it out of fear of it being forged. You lose fifty bucks, but with the two-dollar one, you don’t lose that much if it’s a fake. Why do people hate it so much? I might not be in a position to provide you with a proper and logical answer. Everything about this issue raises a few eyebrows; X-files style.

Back in the day, gamblers refused to get paid with the fifty- and the two-dollar bill, so the vast majority of Las Vegas and Atlantic City casinos simply stopped doing it. Having this in mind, John Bennardo, a producer and a director, decided to make a two-dollar bill documentary. Do you see now how deep the roots of this superstition go? Furthermore, many people still believe that these bills are no longer made. Others aren’t sure if they are still in general circulation.

The Rational Explanation

Listen, this girl right here understands the world of superstitions and investigates the topics of the occult and the never-ending pursuit of Lady Luck. I like to think of myself as a very open-minded individual. However, there is something about this bill that has kept me awake at nights.

Personally, do I believe in the two-dollar bill curse? Absolutely not. I think it all started from one individual who had some major bad luck, and the circumstances were all set up so one may blame his misfortune on the poor bill. From there on, the word spread like wildfire. Remember that I’ve told you how it’s incredibly easy to pin the curse to an item?

Why is it so effortless to cling onto the idea of something we don’t have a rational explanation for, rather than using our common sense and trying to make a reasonable clarification? And this goes beyond states and religions — it sits at the very core of every human being. If I knew why we all act like this, I’d probably receive the Nobel prize or something.

History, Fun Facts, and My Final Thoughts

The year was 1862. Secretary of the Treasury issued the first two-dollar bill. Mr Alexander Hamilton was the person in front. Back then, people had no issues with this one. Alas, in 1869, Hamilton retired, and the third U.S. President, Mr. Thomas Jefferson repealed the bill. He still watches us from the front of this little-used bill. And now, the fun fact I promised — the two men were political rivals.

Even though Hamilton was dismissed from the two-dollar bill, he still gets the final laugh since his good image was transferred to the beloved ten-dollar bill. The currency prevalence war was won in the afterlife. Who’s laughing now, huh, Mr. Jefferson? Bureau of engraving decided to place an image of Jefferson’s estate at the back side of the bill, but still, no luck. But hey, maybe it had nothing to do with the person on the bill. American commerce never paved the way for this bill. No one knows where to put them. There has never been a two-dollar bill cash register for slots, for instance.

If anybody asks me, I think that if retailers stopped their fear of the bill and used them in daily operations (just like they do with any other denomination), the people would stop being so afraid of them. But it’s highly unlikely this will ever happen. The fuss hasn’t changed for the past two centuries, and I don’t see it changing anytime soon.

Some facts remain — there are billions of these bills in circulation with proper serial numbers. Regardless if you have just won a prize on horse races, slots, poker, race tracks or sports betting, if you are an experienced gambler, after a lifetime of listening to the injustice of these myths, you will refuse the cashier who tries to give you this denomination. This is highly unlikely to change anytime soon.

gambling History

My advice is to embrace this unusual and rare bill. I promise there is no curse here. Lady Luck has just blessed you. You won. This little bill is just a medium, not the cause to be scared of some silly lousy luck. Besides, if anyone tries to reject it, just remind them that this act is against the law. Justice for the two-dollar bill!

The Cursed 50-Dollar Bill: The Unrevealed Truth

You know that joke about two gamblers talking, and one of them asks the other if he is superstitious? The other one replies that he was until he realized it’s bad luck to be superstitious. Well, this joke might just hold the essence of a gambler’s psychology.

The mission of finding a game of fortune player who doesn’t place faith in some higher forces is next to impossible. This means that the gambling community may have all kinds of different people, but they all have two things in common — they’re superstitious and are on a never-ending chase after Lady Luck’s mercy.

Regardless of whether a gambler belongs to the poker players bunch or likes to try their luck on slot machines, they will have some ritual or a lucky object to bring to the gaming floor. Good luck, bad luck, the ultimate winning, or a complete fiasco — what shall it be? Since gamblers cannot really rely on anything, they turn to all sorts of crazy beliefs and ‘magical’ objects to help them conjure a flow of good luck. Here’s a fun fact — did you know that many psychologists have conducted numerous studies regarding the relationship between gambling activities and superstitions? But, why are 50 dollar bills bad luck?

There have been so many cases where an individual blames the dealer or the croupier for their misfortune. This is how the whole lousy luck ‘curse’ begins. And if you have ever tried your luck in a casino, you can relate to this. The energy levels in a casino are more than overwhelming. Each round is a fight — a clash between you and the odds. But how did the fifty-dollar bill become so infamous? Is gambling superstition the only reason why we don’t get to see or use the bill so often?

Well, as we have explained previously, it all had to start from a single person who was probably on a losing streak. Maybe this player used a fifty-dollar bill and decided to blame it for the stroke of bad luck on that particular day out of frustration. Furthermore, this player might have shared their sad story with a fellow gambler. And from this point on, the news of the ‘cursed bill’ kept spreading like high-school gossip.

Superstitions: A Personal Frustration or a Global Thing?

We need to make one thing clear — not every superstition has roots in personal observation. On the contrary, most of them are adopted from the already existing beliefs and urban myths. Gamblers choose to believe that something is unlucky and run from it as fast as they can just to avoid tempting fate. Others tend to start believing in something fully and put that belief to test, only to discover some kind of self-fulfilling prophecy.

Let’s put it this way — if you firmly believe that it is bad luck to cross your arms and legs while playing poker and you do it, the chances are you’ll lose because, subconsciously, you expect that. The bottom line — if you do lose, this will only reinforce your belief.

Another funny thing worth mentioning is the ‘selective amnesia’ that many gamblers have. They tend to remember only the events which correspond to their personal beliefs. However, this doesn’t stop them from believing some of the standard gambling superstitions, and fifty-dollar bills are no exception. Yet, these bills are not lonely on the cursed side. The two-dollar bill shares the same fate, and the vast majority of players like to avoid it as well. This might be the reason they are so rare in the States. People just didn’t like to use them.

But this superstition regarding the fifty-dollar bill made the casino operators scratch their heads a lot. Namely, the issue went so far that most of the players refused to be paid out in these banknotes. In the beginning, the casinos chose to ignore the silly superstition, but as this issue started snowballing, they decided to roll with it. Nowadays, it’s difficult to find a casino which provides cashouts in fifty-dollar bills, as well as two-dollar ones. The nickname these unfortunate dollar bills got was ‘frogs.’

Wildest Theories of the 50-Dollar Bill

The Wildest Theories Surrounding the Superstition of the 50-Dollar Bill

As we have previously stated, the theories about the unlucky 50-dollar bill are numerous. Yet, there is one that’s particularly interesting to hear. According to the legend, it all started during the Civil War, and it had to do with the antipathy people had for Ulysses S. Grant — the man whose face is on the disputed bill.

This gentleman apparently wasn’t the most popular guy in the U.S. In a nutshell, the bill wasn’t cursed, but people simply disliked the guy depicted there. Think of it as the opposite of the beloved Benjamin bill.

Another possible explanation of the mystery takes us to Las Vegas. The legend says that back in the day when mobsters ran the business and went out to whack some poor soul, they would bury the corpse with a 50-dollar bill in the victim’s pocket. As you can see, this one is pretty creepy.

An alternative to this charming theory is the tale of Bugsy Siegel (he’s not related to Steven). He was a famous mobster who allegedly had three fifty-dollar bills on him at the moment he was gunned down by the main bosses’ orders.

There is one more variant of the whole Bugsy story. Rumor has it that “Wild” Bill Hickok had only fifties on him when he played the famous ‘dead man’s hand’ in Deadwood saloon back in 1876. Again, these are only stories, and there’s no substantial evidence to support the myths. Either way, the unlucky bill is a superstition superstar at this point.

According to another compelling story, the 50-dollar bill was often counterfeited. This explains why gamblers choose to avoid it; no one wants to be stuck with a forged bill.

And there you go; from the Wild West and the mobsters’ showdown to the counterfeiters, the poor 50-dollar bill remains stuck with a bad reputation. As for us, we wouldn’t mind receiving one out of the blue, but then, we’re not superstitious. Anyway, whether you are a believer or not, some extra cash is always a good thing, so we have to step up and debunk the myth of a 50-dollar bill bad luck.

10 thoughts on “The Curse of the Two-Dollar and the Fifty-Dollar Bill: Revealed

  1. I didn’t actually know that Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson were political opponents. Why were they on opposite sides?

    1. Hey Gabriel! Basically, they had completely and fundamentally opposing views on what the then-young Union should look like. Jefferson was the leader of a political party that was completely against a powerful central government. He and his supporters believed that political power should mainly remain on the state level. On the other hand, Hamilton’s Federalists were adamant that a national bank and a powerful federal government need to exist for the nation to be prosperous.

    1. Hello Jack! Yep, selective amnesia isn’t just a term used in this article. It’s actually a well-documented psychological phenomenon, which pertains to people who simply don’t remember parts of stressful situations; like gambling.

  2. Wow, I’ve never even seen the 2 dollar bill! Are there any other weird bills that are also obscure in the U.S?

    1. Hi Stanley! There have actually been quite a few denominations in circulation over the years. Most of the ones that aren’t as well known are basically huge denominations that haven’t been printed since 1969; such as the $1,000, or $5,000 bills.

  3. Why do casinos go along with player superstitions? I mean, shouldn’t they just pay out with any denomination, as long as it’s legal?

    1. Hi, good question Sam! Basically, it all boils down to casinos accommodating their players in any way they can, and respecting their superstitions. After all, if one casino doesn’t; their competition will.

    1. Hey Ryan! We didn’t get into more details on Grant seeing as he wasn’t the point of the article. However, you could say that his undoubtable political success is somewhat muddled by a series of public scandals.

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