lucky numbers
February 1, 2016

The meaning behind black and red: Why we need our lucky numbers

Mike Ashley is one of Britain’s richest men. He’s the owner of Premier League football team Newcastle United, and is one of the most ruthless businessmen in the country. But even he requires a little luck every now and again in the shape of his favorite number: 17.

It doesn’t matter who, how successful, or how calculated you are, the likelihood is that you’ll have a lucky number. Psychologists believe it offers comfort to people. Something familiar.

Across the world Roulette in Numbers, an interactive guide put together by Online Roulette, has uncovered why some cultures love certain numbers and exactly why some are avoided like the plague.

For example, if Mike Ashley was Italian, not only would he likely be chairman of Palermo, but he also wouldn’t be winning £1.3million placing money on 17. The number is considered to be one of the unluckiest in Italy with its Roman numerals numbering being rearranged to VIXI, a term often found on gravestones meaning “I have lived.”

It’s relationship with death has put many off the number, and it would likely take a brave player to place a few chips on it.

Equally, in Japan the number 19 has similar misfortune and is considered an unlucky age for women particularly, alongside 33 and 37.

It’s an interesting concept with Alex Bellos, a man who wrote a book on numbers, claiming that numbers ending in 5 aren’t favored by people, thanks to people used to rounding up numbers to multiples of 10.

However, Roulette in Numbers suggests otherwise. In Bulgarian folklore a hand with five fingers (excluding the thumb) is a sacred symbol, evoking thoughts of the five supreme gods from the country’s ancient past.

These superstitions often creep into everyday life, just as not stepping on cracks, or walking under ladders do. In Las Vegas you’ll be hard-pressed to find a hotel with a 13th floor, with the Las Vegas Hilton being one of the very few that do.

And downstairs in the casino, we’re starting to understand why some cultures prefer certain numbers to others, despite the odds all calculating the same. What’s more it’s interesting to understand why we dislike some numbers and other cultures find them favourable. After all, 13 may be unlucky for us, but in Italy it is a sign of good fortune.

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Feature Image: Thinkstock