Whether it’s choosing lottery numbers, backing a horse, or placing chips on a roulette table – most people have a “lucky number”. Even if we know objectively lucky numbers aren’t always going to be lucky, many of us still enjoy holding on to a number we are fond of. Gamblers in particular read a lot into whether a colour or number is lucky or unlucky, and there are a number of reasons why people let superstitions or lucky numbers dictate their bets – something which can add to the overall gambling experience.
Psychology: Why Do People Rely On Lucky Numbers?
There’s no one reason people choose to pick, and bet on, their lucky number/s. For many, backing a lucky number simply makes gambling more enjoyable.
People will often have a story behind their lucky numbers. Personally, I favour the number 46 because my favourite Ultimate Frisbee player wears that number on his jersey. At the roulette table, four and six are always the first numbers I’ll place my chips.
Believing you’ve got something supporting you behind the numbers you wager on can certainly make the roulette spin more exciting, and can help to decide where to place chips when it feels like there are too many options. When my lucky number pulls through for me, the win feels twice as good.
Sometimes a lucky number is more than something we favour – many people believe they can prove their lucky number genuinely allows them to succeed when it is used. For example, a close friend of mine, who was born on the ninth of September (09.09), is convinced the odds work out in her favour when she bets with her lucky digit nine.
This belief – that a certain number has served us well in the past, leads us to pick it more in the future. We tend to selectively remember the times the number has served us well, and overlook the times our lucky number hasn’t been so lucky. Many also like to keep their lucky numbers secret, believing if they reveal their secret to success, it won’t be as lucky any more.
Sir Francis Bacon wrote a theory about why people feel compelled to abide by their superstitions and “winning habits”. He stated: “Men observe when a thing hits but not when it misses.” Each time our lucky number is successful on our behalf, we take it as evidence we’re onto a good thing, but if it loses, we’re quick to put it behind us. This phenomenon is referred to as “selective amnesia”.
Other Gambling Superstitions
Many gamblers feel it is bad luck to walk through the main entrance of a casino. Even more specifically, many Asian gamblers did not enter the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, as the main entrance to the casino took the form of the mouth of a lion. After receiving feedback explaining in Asian culture, walking through a lion’s mouth was considered bad luck, the MGM Grand paid to reinvest in a new entrance four years after opening. Many Asians believed entering through the mouth was too akin to being eaten alive and also bad feng shui (a Chinese philosophical system of balancing everyone with the surrounding environment). Some other interesting superstitions and lucky/unlucky numbers are detailed below:
– Some punters believe crossing fingers or legs while playing at the tables is bad luck.
– American players in particular think taking winnings in the form of $50 notes is bad luck.
– In Western culture, many have a fear of the number 13 (called Triskaidekaphobia).
– The ’23 enigma’ – the belief all occurrences are directly connected to the number 23.
– Four is an unlucky number in Chinese culture because it sounds like the Chinese word for death.
– The number eight is a lucky number in Chinese culture because it sounds like the Chinese word for prosperity.
There are countless other fascinating cultural, historical and individual superstitions out there which people abide by.
Is There Any Harm In Betting On A Lucky Number?
There’s really nothing wrong with believing your lucky number truly is lucky – if it adds to the fun, or gives you a sense of betting purpose, go for it! Especially in roulette, a game based entirely on luck and where you have to pick numbers and colours somehow, there’s no harm in going back to your favourites to do so. And if lucky numbers make the game more exciting, that’s all the more reason to back a favourite – after all gambling is meant to be an enjoyable leisure activity. A lucky number mightn’t increase your chances of winning, but in luck-based games, mathematically, it won’t harm them either.
The only reason betting on a lucky number may be harmful is if your superstitions are making you bet more money than you can afford to lose, which is definitely inadvisable under any circumstances. Never spend more than you are happy to part with at the casino, lucky number or not.