The world of betting and casinos is one that is surprisingly filled with superstition. If you stand near a craps table and talk about the number seven, for example, then there’s a very real chance that someone is going to turn around and tell you to shut up or move on. If you’re the sort of person that enjoys whistling, don’t do it whilst you’re playing or else you’re likely to be greeted with a similar response. Whether it be crossing your legs, counting your money at the table or having itchy hands, there are all sorts of casino superstitions.
There is a chance, therefore, that the person that designed the roulette wheel was having a bit of fun when they decided that it should involve the numbers zero through to 36 for one main reason: when you add all of those numbers together, it comes to 666. As you will no doubt be aware, 666 is not a good number as it thought of in some quarters as being the devil’s number. Indeed, if you disappear down the rabbit hole of insane theories, you’ll often find that they all involve the number 666 at some point, but why does it matter?
The Number of the Beast
The Textus Receptus is a term in Christianity that refers to printed editions of the Greek New Testament. In it, the Book of Revelation suggests, rather cryptically, that 666 is ‘man’s number’, associated with ‘the Beast’. The Beast is an antagonistic creature that appears in the apocalyptic vision on offer in the Book. In the years that followed, especially in popular culture, 666 became associated with the Antichrist and sometimes with the devil, with some believing that you use the number in order to invoke Satan to earth.
Whether it be in anti-Christian subcultures or apocalypticist Christian groups, the number 666 can often be found. Whilst it might seem like a bit of a joke to non-believers, those that do think that 666 is associated with the devil will do everything that they can to avoid it or anything associated with it. This aversion is known as hexakosioihexekontahexaphobia. It is a decidedly Western aversion, given that the number is thought of as being lucky in China, sometimes meaning ‘everything goes smoothly’.
It Isn’t Mathematically Special
Whilst those that enjoy getting caught up in conspiracies and believing that everything is against them might think that 666 is a bad number, there is nothing overly exciting about it from a mathematical point of view. The reason why it appears in the Bible at all is that the Greek language doesn’t use numbers. Instead, letters are used to represent numbers, with the first letter, Alpha, being one, Beta being two and so on. Of course, eventually you need to cope with big numbers, which Greek also uses letters for in much the same way that Roman uses letters.
Just because it isn’t a mathematically special number, though, that doesn’t automatically mean that it doesn’t have an interesting story to tell. In fact, there’s something about it that tells a story about the way that the Bible was written originally and the reference to it in the Book of Revelation isn’t all as it seems. If you were around at the time that the New Testament was written, 666 is being used as a not particularly subtle code, provided you were literate and able to read and understand the words used.
Every word in Greek has a numerical value, with chapter 13 of the New Testament saying, “Let the one with understanding reckon the meaning of the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man. His number is 666.” The Greek word ‘reckon’ means something akin to ‘solve’ or ‘calculate’ in modern English, meaning that the chapter is effectively saying that there is a riddle that the reader needs to ‘solve’. In the original passage, the numbers 666 were actually written in Hebrew, giving them more significance than if they’d been in Greek.
If you translate 666 from Hebrew, it spells out Neron Kesar, which was the Hebrew spelling of the hated Roman ruler Nero Caesar. The chapter is therefore saying that the root of all evil is not the devil or Satan, but the ruling emperor at the time. Given the fact that the New Testament wasn’t written in a vacuum and will have featured references to things happening at the time, it can be considered more as a takedown of the ruler than a desire to spell out the fact that the devil is influencing all of our lives, much to the likely annoyance of the conspiracy theorists.
Does It Matter in Roulette?
The obvious question is, superstitions aside, does it make any difference in the world of roulette? The answer is no, presuming you’re not the sort of person that carries a bunny rabbit’s foot around with you for good luck. Of course, if you are such a person then merely having the knowledge that the numbers add up to 666 will probably be enough to have you steering clear of the roulette table. Sadly, it means that you’re going to end up missing out on a brilliant and popular casino game, given that it is unavoidable.
Whilst the European roulette table only features one zero, the American version of the table features two. Either way, zero is an irrelevant number in terms of adding the digits together. Once you add one to two, two to three and so on all the way up to 36, you’re going to end up with a total of 666 whether the wheel features one or two zeroes. It might not have anything to do with the devil, but you’ll still need to be extremely lucky to land on a digit that ends up in your being paid out as a winner.