The Power of Lucky and Unlucky Numbers in Gambling around the World
In gambling, everyone has their own style, depending on the game that they are playing; some adopt their own strategies based on past experience or even choose numbers that have had a positive effect on their life.
Of course, there are many differences based on the particular game that people play, while for sure, culture also comes into play. Some countries have an emphasis on certain numbers where there is a special belief or leaning towards these based on events or even religion.
While the activity of gambling from an outcome perspective is completely random, what cannot be ignored is that there are still many gambling superstitions that exist surrounding how lucky or unlucky some numbers are.
There are millions of people around the world who take part in gambling of some form, even if it is just something as simple as playing the lottery, while every country is different in terms of gambling regulations.
Westernized countries also differ significantly from Asian countries, with the latter mainly having strict laws surrounding the legitimacy of gambling from a legal perspective.
Gambling itself is a global, multi-billion-dollar industry, regardless of whether the betting is done online or in land-based casinos. That being said, there are some countries where gambling is prohibited, but it still takes place illegally.
Below, we take more of a deep dive into which gambling numbers are lucky or unlucky around the world.
The Significance of Lucky Numbers in Chinese Gambling Beliefs
Countries in Asia have many different gambling superstitions about numbers when it comes to wagering, particularly China.
In China, some numbers are linked to wealth and luck based on their connotations to the words meaning. Baccarat players in the province of Macau (where gambling is legal) believe that even the number of times that cards are shuffled can affect the outcome of a game.
One of the numbers that is considered to be arguably the luckiest for gambling in China is eight. This is because it sounds very much like the Cantonese words for ‘prosper’ or ‘wealth’.
Eight is often chosen when gambling in Macau because Chinese bettors believe games of luck might be influenced by the number despite having no proof that this has any strategic impact on the game.
The number 3 is also understood to have a lucky gambling impact and is usually highly thought of. This is because, in Cantonese, it means ‘to live’ or ‘life’ and is considered to be one of three important stages in a person’s existence, which includes birth, marriage and death.
Meanwhile, the number six also has a similar impact. In Cantonese, this sounds like the word ‘Liu’, which means ‘to flow’ and can be interpreted as having a ‘smooth progress’ through life and can affect many outcomes in a positive way.
Similarly, there is the number nine. It is considered to be lucky due to its similar sound to the Cantonese word ‘jiu’, which is a representation of long life and longevity. It could also be indicative of a gambling experience, with many games lasting a long time and usually requiring patience.
Lucky numbers in China also have a tie-in with trends as there is an indication in Macau especially that gamblers put a lot of weight into patterns. As a result, should a player win three times in a row, it indicates that they should gamble a fourth time because this indicates luck.
The Role of Unlucky Numbers in Betting and Asian Culture
Following on from the trend of superstition, many people in China especially believe that there are also unlucky numbers in gambling, which can substantially influence their winnings.
As a result, particularly at a roulette table in a Macau casino, it is very rare to see the number four being chosen. The reason for this is that in Cantonese, it sounds a lot like ‘si’, which translates to the word ‘death’. Because of this reason, the number 14 is also avoided because it includes a four.
Meanwhile, in Cambodia, a country where gambling is illegal, though which has in the past had a number of illegal rings, the number 13 is considered to be unlucky. However, this is perhaps not surprising considering that in many other countries, this is also the case. The reason for this is because it represents ‘death’ because the number of mortalities in the country each year is reportedly 1313.
Conversely, in China, there are more positive connotations surrounding the number 13. This is because the two individual numbers, 1 and 3, mean ‘supreme’ and ‘perfect’, respectively.
It is also understood that in Filipino culture, the number three has negative associations, which is applied to gambling. This is because in a sequence from one to three, 1 means ‘gold’, 2 represents ‘silver’, and 3 has links to ‘death’. In a poker game, this could cause controversy, especially if a winning hand is ace, two, three, or even a Full House of the number three.
Also, in the Philippines, the number 7 is considered to be unlucky. Many gamblers who are native to the country will try to avoid the number seven at all costs, as it is associated with losing. If this number comes up in a game of blackjack, for example, many gamblers believe that they have already lost the game.
The Significance of Lucky Numbers in Western Gambling
In Western countries, there is a mixture of crossover and differences about lucky numbers when it comes to gambling.
Generally, many people in the Western world are not as superstitious when it comes to numbers, especially in association with gambling and certainly not from a cultural, deeper-meaning perspective, but more associated with straightforward materialism.
It is often the case that some people believe that a number is lucky or unlucky based on their success with a particular number throughout their years of gambling. Usually, if a particular number (or set of numbers) has brought them a big win previously, most will stick with them until their luck turns. However, there are still numbers in the West that are considered lucky and some apply these to gambling.
In general, 13 (“unlucky for some,” as the quote goes) is actually quite lucky and certain countries set a lot of store in this.
The US is one of those. This is because there are 13 stripes on the American flag (seven red, six white). In addition, the Great Seal contains 13 stars, while the eagle’s left talon has 13 arrows, and there are 13 olives and 13 olive leaves in its right talon. As such, some US gamblers consider 13 to be lucky, often chosen by bettors in numerous casinos across the country for various games, such as roulette and even the lottery.
Meanwhile, in Italy, this is also considered to be lucky. The reason for this is that the number 13 is associated with St. Anthony, who is the patron saint of finding lost people and things. Gambling has long been associated with Italy, which is believed to have started among Roman soldiers, and the number 13 still has a significant impact on gambling activities in the country today, especially the lottery.
In Sweden, which is a country where gambling is particularly popular, many people believe that the number 3 is considered to be lucky. This is because the belief is that all good things arrive in threes.
For multiple Western countries, including the UK, US, the Netherlands and France, 7 is considered lucky, especially in gambling. This is because it is associated with the universe and religion.
Unlucky Numbers in Western Betting Culture
There are also numbers in Western culture that some players avoid in gambling.
In Italy, the number 17 is considered to be unlucky and one that many gamblers do not like to be associated with. This is because, as a Roman numeral, it is written as XVII, however, when this is rearranged to VIXI, it is translated to “I lived”. As such, this usually appears on tombstones and being a considerably religious country, the number 17 is avoided in gambling because of this and is said to bring bad luck.
As opposed to the US, though, the number 13 is portrayed as unlucky in many European countries, including Norway, Sweden, Portugal and the UK, and this has, over the decades, been translated into gambling activities. This is based on historical events that, in the majority of cases, are tied to religion.
There were 13 people (including Jesus) at the Last Supper, which was followed by the betrayal of Judas. As a result, the number 13 is avoided by many who play games of chance due to its negative historical connotations.
Lucky Numbers and the Reality of Gambling Outcomes
While it is certainly interesting to understand which numbers are considered to be ‘lucky’ and unlucky in Western and Asian countries and, as a result, are aligned to gambling, there is one important thing to remember.
Gambling outcomes are completely random in the majority of cases (perhaps poker being the exception due to the player’s ability to bluff), and as a result, the numbers have nothing to do with it.
For example, many lottery wins have been the result of people having had 13 on their tickets, so the meaning behind numbers shouldn’t be taken too seriously from a gambling perspective.