Just as the number 4 has a bad reputation in China and Japan (well most of Asia in fact), when we head West to Europe and the United States, it´s the number 13 that has the bad reputation. Why is that? What´s so special about Friday 13th? There´s even a bunch of movies named after the date.
There´s even a special name for the fear of this number: Triskaidekaphobia. Quite a mouthful, isn´t it? Try saying "Paraskevidekatriaphobia" which is an irrational fear of Friday 13th!
Why is 13 (otherwise known as a Baker´s Dozen) seen as such an unlucky number in the West? (Not in all countries by the way- roulette players in Italy are more than happy to put a bet on 13 as it is seen as a lucky number. There is an expression in Italina: fare tredici ("to do thirteen") which means to hit the jackpot.
The main reason probably has to do with the dominant religion in the West- Christianity, and in particular the Last Supper. The Last Supper: where there were 13 people sitting around the table: Christ and the 12 apostles. One of those thirteen was Judas who went on to betray Jesus.
Also, throughout Western history, some pretty bad stuff has happened on the 13th, such as on Friday 13 October 1307, when King Philip IV of France gave the order for the arrest of the Knights Templar. Most were then tortured and killed.
Historically, monks have had problems in years in which there were 13 full moons (one more than usual). They were the keepers of the calendars in those day, and having 13 full moons in a year gave them an enormous headache when planning out the dates for the various religious festivities. These 13 moon years come around every 3 or 4 years and became associated with bad luck.
Another reason comes from Norse legend and it has to do with Loki, the god of mischief (try the Thunderstruck 2 slot if you want to brush up on your Norse mythology!) In one of the fables, there was a meeting of twelve Norse gods at a banquet when a 13th showed up: Loki who ended up killing one of the other gods, a deed that triggered the death of even more gods, plus a wave of disasters. Everything on earth was destroyed apart from 2 humans. So not a particularly lucky number in Scandinavia then!
Let´s talk about Nasa´s Apollo program. Apollo 11, as we know, was wildly successful with Buzz and Neil skipping around the moon´s service. But Apollo 13? Well, that was with James Lovell, Jack Swigert and Fred Haise. it was the only unsuccessful mission. They should have skipped 13 and called it 14!
There were often 13 steps leading up to the gallows (this just happened to be the optimum height for hanging people).
13 also suffers from being so close to the number 12, which is seen as a good, and pleasing number by many. It´s a number that we see around a lot- there are 12 months in a year, 12 hours on a clock, 12 days of Christmas, 12 apostles, 12 inches in a foot, 12 eggs make up a dozen and so on. 13 just misses all of these things, so it´s seen as a bit wonky- the superstitious side of us feels that there is something a bit wrong with the number. It´s a weird prime number that sounds a bit like 30- the Black Sheep of numbers, if you like.
How to Play 13 in Roulette
So there you have a bunch of facts and superstitions about the number 13. How do you play 13 in roulette?
13 is a black number that sits between red 27 and red 36 on a European Roulette wheel, and between 1 and 36 on an American wheel (pretty close to the 00 pocket).
You can play the single number for a 35:1 pay-out of course, but that won´t get you much in the way of table coverage. You can also cover the number with a black, odd or low even money bet. It´s on the first (bottom) column and it´s the first number of the 2nd set of dozens for a 2:1 payout.
Various split, corner, street and six-line bets will cover it as well of course.
You can also cover 13 with a 007 bet, a black splits bet, a Finale 3 en Plein bet and a Tiers du Cylindre bet.
More Facts About the Number 13
The number 13 is the 6th prime number, and you may also bet 13 if you play the Fibonacci system, as it is a number in this sequence (1,1,2,3,5,8,13).
At one time there were 13 colonies in North America- 13 States rebelled against the British Crown in the 18th Century. The Stars and Stripes now has 13 stripes, 6 white and 7 red.
The US Thirteenth Amendment abolished slavery It was passed by the Senate in 1864, and passed by the House in 1865.
Anything else? Well, Neptune has thirteen known moons. The most famous is Triton which is the only large moon in the solar system that orbits its planet in the opposite direction Neptune´s rotation, which is called a retrograde orbit. I bet you didn´t know that!
Also, if you reach your 13th wedding anniversary, it´s time to go lingerie shopping, as the 13th is the lace anniversary.
And finally, Aluminium has the atomic number 13.
Is Number 13 Unlucky in Roulette?
We´ve said this before for other numbers, and we´ll say it again. The number 13 in roulette is no more likely to drop in (or not drop in) than any other number on the wheel. But that isn´t going to stop people avoiding it, is it? You have to admit, it´s a pretty interesting number.