Even though roulette is a totally random game, people still tend to be superstitious about certain numbers. That holds true whether they’re in a casino or playing online roulette. Here are the most common numbers played in roulette and why.
People are superstitious, no matter how rational we all normally act. We might not believe that if we step on a crack we’ll break our mother’s back, but we probably have some smaller superstitions that we hold on to — like knocking on wood or having a “lucky number.”
Gambling definitely brings out the superstition in us all, and it’s easy to see why. For a long while, if people wanted to gamble, they’d often guess a random number or go with a gut instinct. But people wanted to better their chances of winning, and so gambling led to the development of probability theory.
The idea of probability wasn’t codified until mathematicians Blaise Pascal (who is most often credited with inventing roulette) and Pierre de Fermat formulated their theory of probability, which posited a mathematical framework we can use to analyze chance events in a logical way. The probability of an event becomes a number indicating how likely it is for that event to occur.
And yet, even with this mathematical breakdown of how likely it is for an event to happen — like your favorite number coming up on the roulette wheel — people still insist on clinging to their gut feelings or superstitions to guide their choices when it comes to gambling. That’s why we see the same numbers being played again and again by so many different people.
Here are some of the most common numbers you’ll see played in roulette and why.
If you ask any croupier which number is the most popular one played in roulette, they will definitely answer that it’s 17. The 17 pocket has also been at the center of some staggering historical roulette wins, so that might be part of the allure.
Mike Ashley’s Big Win on 17
Mike Ashley, the owner of Newcastle United Football Club, was playing at a private casino in Mayfair in 2008. He made a “complete bet,” which included all splits, corners, streets, and six-line bets that include 17, and of course he put a straight bet on 17 itself, for good measure. He ended up winning £1.3 million on that one spin.
Sean Connery Defies the Odds
Ashley might have thought that 17 was a lucky number for him because it had proved to be so for Sean Connery. The actor had just rocketed to stardom playing James Bond in Dr. No in 1962, the year before he had his history-making roulette win. The story ties in well with his good fortune of landing such a role.
The story goes that Connery was playing at the Casino de la Vallee in Saint-Vincent, Italy, where he placed five bets on the number 17. He lost on the first two spins, but he kept on. The third spin was lucky for him, and he won. Somehow, the gods smiled upon him as he placed all his new winnings on 17 and won again. Then, instead of simply walking away, Connery tempted fate one more time and put all of his winnings back on 17 for one final round — which he also won.
The probability of this happening is 50,653:1. He left the table with over $27,000 (which would equal more than $228,000 today).
The number 17 most likely started its popularity because of its position pretty much right in the middle of the roulette layout, on both French and American tables.
In addition, 17 is a prime number, so it might seem like the most “random” number for humans to choose.
The number 7 is also hugely common, most likely because it’s considered lucky or at least quite prominent in major world cultures. Remember the Seven Wonders of the World? Heck, we also organize our weeks around having seven days. There are also seven continents on the planet.
In addition, it’s a significant number in most major religions:
In Hinduism, there are seven heavens and seven lower worlds. The Vedas also talk of seven chakras.
In Buddhism, the newborn baby Buddha rose and took seven steps, and there are seven factors of enlightenment.
In the Book of Genesis, God created the world in six days and rested on the seventh. Also, Judaism has seven high holy days in the calendar.
In the New Testament, the number seven represents the four corners of the Earth combined with the Holy Trinity.
The New Testament also leans heavily on the number seven in the Book of Revelation (seven seals, seven angels, seven trumpets, and so on).
The Quran mentions seven heavens, and Muslim pilgrims undertaking the Hajj walk around the Kaaba in Mecca seven times.
Another reason why it might be popular is because it’s also a prime number, and primes are often considered special. We can’t divide them cleanly, and so they seem more distinctive or unique.
This is another common number that comes up a lot. “Good things come in threes,” after all. It’s also lucky in Chinese numerology because the word san sounds similar to the word that means “birth” or “life.” It also represents the three stages of human life: birth, marriage, and death.
Roulette Players’ Least Favorite Numbers
While plenty of gamblers have their favorite numbers, there are also numbers that veteran gamblers stay away from — that pesky superstition rearing its head again. What are the most unpopular numbers?
This seems pretty easy — lots of Western cultures have viewed 13 as an unlucky number for centuries.
Possibly because of its location at the very end of the table, 0 is another unpopular roulette number. It may also carry negative connotations for roulette players because that’s the house’s number.
This number also appears to carry bad luck. Maybe it’s the belief that it’s part of the number 666, an inauspicious number in the New Testament’s Book of Revelation.
This is another number that’s at the very edge of the table, so players shy away from it.
What’s Your Lucky Number?
No matter what your reasons are, you probably have a favorite number. Maybe it’s your birthday or anniversary, or maybe it’s simply a number that keeps randomly appearing in your life. Whichever number you favor, it’s important to you. Give it a try when you’re playing your next game of online roulette. If your number comes up, you’ll have all the more reason to keep it as your favorite.