Most and Least Common Numbers Bet on in Roulette

It’s no secret that people are a superstitious bunch. Detectives act on their “hunches”, students taking exams cross their fingers and knock on wood, and hotel owners skip from 12 straight to 14 in their floor plan. And in roulette, players favour some numbers over others. Is there any rhyme or reason to this, or is it simply what it sounds like: an old wives tale? Can humans really tap into something deeper when it comes to luck and probability, or are we really all stuck in a gradually overheating RNG machine?

A Brief History

The link between betting and probability has a long and intermingled history. In fact, gambling is the mother of probability. Blaise Pascal, who accidentally invented the roulette wheel in his attempt to construct a perpetual motion machine, struggled with the idea of probability from a mathematical standpoint. Through the contemplation of a notoriously difficult hypothetical gambling problem, he and Pierre de Fermat formulated the theory of probability. Before this time, there was no other “scientific” way for people to rationally predict outcomes to situations. They had to guess and trust their gut instinct. Since roulette and the theory of probability have grown together side by side, why is it that many people still adamantly hold onto their superstitious ways? Perhaps, sometimes there really is something that guides people to choose the way they do.

The Legend of 17

The number 17 is the number in the centre of the roulette board and is also famous for delivering some staggering wins.

  • “Newcastle boss wins £1.3 million on lucky number 17”
  • Sean Connery wins on 17 3 times in a row

Mike Ashley, the Newcastle boss mentioned above, famously loves the number 17. He wears football shirts with his lucky number and he won £1.3 million in one spin of the wheel after making a “complete” bet on number 17. His lucky number really came through for him. If everything is random, then how do you explain this?

If you ask croupiers what the most common number people bet on, the answer will always be 17. Not only does it lie in the centre of the board, making it the most obvious place to bet, MIT have described the number 17 as the “most random number”, meaning that when people choose a random number they go straight for 17. In several studies when correspondents were asked to choose a random number from 1 to 20, 17 was the most frequently chosen, making it the least random number by human standards. 7 followed closely behind. Computerised RNG made no such biases.

So, perhaps the phenomenal wins commonly associated with the number are simply because more people bet on 17. Ashley, a long time roulette player, most likely bet on the number 17 a lot of times before he hit his big break.

Sean Connery’s Staggering Win

But, this doesn’t explain Sean Connery’s unbelievable achievement on the roulette wheel. Reportedly, while playing in Casino de la Vallee in Saint-Vincent, Italy, he placed 5 bets on the number 17. The first two he lost, but he persisted. The third time lucky, his number came up winning him 31:1 odds. Not content to settle with that, he placed all his winnings back on the number 17. Literally against all odds, the movie star wins again. Instead of walking away, Connery tempts fate and puts all his money on the 17 for a fifth and final time. The number comes up. Apparently the probability of hitting three single number bets in a row is 0.0000197% or 50,000:1. While it is weird that it would be the same number three times in a row, mathematically it’s like as likely as Connery guessing any other number correctly. Of course, that doesn’t make it any less bizarre.

What on earth is going on here? Perhaps the number 17 truly is a mythical number for roulette.

Perhaps the reason is simply that Connery spotted a bias with the roulette wheel, and went with it. However, since the roulette wheel missed the mark the first two times, it still seems extremely risky. Maybe Connery was simply in the mood for a thrill! Or, perhaps he slipped the croupier a little something under the table… Sadly, we will never really know the answer to the mystery of the number 17. We can see why people love betting on it though!

Other Common Lucky Numbers

The number 7 is perhaps the most common number that people like to bet on, after 17, because it is generally considered to be lucky. People also love the number 3, as everyone knows all good things come in threes. However, these numbers are all lucky in the Western culture. Eastern casinos would tell an entirely different story of what the most common numbers bet on are. For instance, the number two has extremely positive associations in Asian casinos: double your luck and double your chances!

Least Favourite Numbers To Bet On

As we already mentioned, people tend to avoid the number 13. Its unluckiness is well established throughout most of Western culture. However, in Italy the number 13 is lucky and the number 17 unlucky. So, if you are betting with an Italian you can expect them to do the reverse of what you might expect. Players universally tend to dislike betting on the zeros, perhaps because of the placement on the board, and perhaps because of their unlucky associations with the house edge.


17 is a very common number to bet on, which is most likely why you hear so many great success stories surrounding it. 7 is also very common and has enjoyed fame because of a number of big wins associated with it. The more fame these number have, the more likely people are to bet in them – thus increasing their fame and luck further.

Whatever number you bet on mathematically has the same chance of coming up. So if you do have a favourite number spread that means a lot to you, like a birthday or anniversary date, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t use it. They are just as likely, or rather unlikely, to come up as any other. Then, when your numbers do come up you’ll have all the more reason to favour them! Keep this in mind when playing online for real money.