Roulette is one of the most popular casino table games around the world. It has become synonymous with these establishments. Often, roulette will appear in movies whenever a character visits a casino. It’s such a recognisable game, and it has been around for a long time already.
In fact, the first form of roulette came about in 18th century France. Many believe that it was a design of Blaise Pascal. In actuality, he wasn’t intending to invent a casino game. Instead, he was seeking to create a perpetual motion machine. While doing so, he conjured up ideas that transformed into the roulette wheel. The game itself is a merger of this wheel and the Italian game of Biribi.
If you have ever seen a roulette wheel, you will know that it features a selection of numbers. These match the numbers visible on the roulette betting table. The whole idea behind the game is to place a wager on a winning number. Once all bets are complete, the dealer spins a ball into the wheel. The number pocket it lands in determines the winner.
That’s the simple basis behind playing roulette, be it online or offline. Yet there are some interesting design inclusions of the roulette wheel. We’ve already spoken about why there are 37 or 38 numbers on it. Yet did you know that those numbers equate to 666 when totalled up?
Many people know 666 to be the number of the devil. That seems like quite the odd number to associate with a gambling game. Is there something behind this number being the total of all added together? Or is it a simple coincidence?
Is It About the Devil and a Sinister Connection?
It seems quite silly to think that the devil would have anything to do with roulette. After all, people have been talking about the devil for a lot longer than roulette has been around. Yet there could indeed be some truth to that connection. In fact, some historians actually believe that roulette pre-dates Pascal’s invention. They suggest that it is 200 years older than its often-recognised 1720 creation. One of the explanations for this takes us back to Ancient China.
In those days, the Chinese had a spinning stone wheel game-of-chance. This utilised drawings of animals, rather than numbers. In fact, a few historians go as far to say that a monk developed this game. According to these sources, he went mad trying to find a way to cheat it. They suggest that he is the one who left a “666” mark at the centre of the spinning wheel. Possessed by the devil or some other demonic spirit, perhaps?
Some have suggested that the game could have come from China and traded across to Europe. Yet others counteract this by saying that the Romans hold partial responsibility for it. Historic accounts of Legion soldiers gambling by spinning their shields exist. Chariot wheels were also spun in a similar fashion, according to some.
Whatever the case may be of roulette’s origins, there wasn’t a huge connection to the devil to begin with. This didn’t become widespread until it arrived in Homburg and then Monte Carlo. François Blanc was responsible for this, who moved his casino from the former location to the latter. The Monte Carlo Casino served as a temple for gamblers to visit. Especially after Germany outlawed gambling within its borders. Monaco’s government ran the casino, with Blanc front and centre for it.
A rumour soon began circulating that Blanc had made a deal with the devil. This deal suggested that he had received all the secrets of the roulette wheel and table. It soon became legend, and many believed that this was the reason why the numbers add up to 666. Gambling halls in Paris at the time utilised both a zero and double zero on their roulette wheels.
Blanc advertised his wheel to patrons in Monte Carlo as offering better chances of wins. Why? Because it only featured a single zero. This did little to change the total of the numbers when added together, of course. Yet with the mystique of the deal with the devil and the single zero wheel, the appeal was there.
What Does 666 Have to Do with the Devil?
As some people will know, 666 refers to The Number of the Beast. This relates to the Christian Bible and in specific the Book of Revelation. That serves as the final book in the New Testament. In chapter 13, verse 18, there is a reference to the number of the beast. Translations of the phrase printed in the Bible differ from one another. Yet, several of them translate it in the following way:
“Here is Wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast…”.
The Textus Receptus (the Greek New Testament from Erasmus’ Novum Instrumentum omne) other revelations come to light. Representing the number 666 are the Greek numerals χξϛ. A translation of the text written within verses 17-18 to English states:
“And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name. Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is 666.”
From that text came a certain superstition surrounding the number 666. There is even an official word for fear of it, which is “hexakosioihexekontahexaphobia“. Such superstition has led to people making dramatic changes in their lives. A few examples of this are:
- In 1989, Nancy and Ronald Reagan moved to their home in Bel-Air, Los Angeles. This came about following the 1988 election. The address they moved to was 666 St. Cloud Road. The couple had this changed to 668 St. Cloud Road.
- In 2003, U.S. Route 666 in New Mexico changed to U.S. Route 491. A spokesperson in New Mexico said, “The devil’s out of here, and we say goodbye and good riddance.”
- Various women expressed concerns over giving birth on June 6, 2006 (6/6/06).
- In October 2017, flight AY666 from Copenhagen to Helsinki departed for the last time. It became AY954 afterwards. Since 2006, the flight had taken off on Friday the 13th on 21 occasions. Yet a spokesperson for Finnair said the renaming was not due to superstitious reasons.
- During COVID-19, mask wearing and vaccines became associated with the mark of the beast by some groups. They suggested a microchip was also inside the vaccine. A few religious leaders spoke out about the misinformation, as did medical institutions.
The Link to Roulette
Gambling and religion has always been a major topic for discussion. Even the very idea that the devil may have something to do with roulette is bad enough for some. People have even suggested that the 666 number is the reason for gambling addiction. They also claim that it is the reason for their money loss.
The likely truth behind it is that it has nothing to do with the devil or religion. Mathematics and science are much more likely to be the reasons. Pascal utilised maths to create the roulette wheel, not religion or superstition. Adding up all the numbers from 1 through to 36 will bring you to the sum of 666. Those numbers and the total of them combined existed long before the roulette wheel. At the same time, they were around long before the modern idea of the devil, too.
It’s more likely to be a simple coincidence that they equate to such a total. Of course, that gave people like Blanc quite the story to build on and for people to get invested in gaming. Extra coincidences occur in roulette alongside the wheel numbers, though.
Adding any three horizontal numbers on the roulette table together relate to the number 6. For example, 28, 29 and 30 are present at the end of the table in a horizontal line. Combining those numbers together equates to 87. Add those digits together (8+7), you get 15. And adding those together equates to 6. The same is true if you add any three diagonal roulette table numbers together.
Of course, that’s quite the long way round to reach any kind of superstition with the number 6. Mathematics is not something that most people use for links to the devil. Thus, it reaches a bit of a “clutching at straws” moment if you go this far with it. We’re not negating the possibility of the reason behind the tally of 666 being a Roman solider or monk. Or even a gambling magnate. It’s much more likely that the mathematician in Pascal is to blame, though. There’s a potential explanation of him inserting his own joke into roulette. It may be that he was suggesting gambling is a sin and linking this to the devil and 666.
Regardless, it helped François Blanc to heighten the popularity of roulette in Monaco. So, whether it is appropriate a level of blame on Pascal is questionable. Instead, it would likely be more reasonable to give a modicum of praise to him. Whether he meant for the total of the numbers to equate to 666 or not is beside the point. It has become a talking point of roulette, and that has attracted players over the centuries.
A Final Word on Roulette and the 666 Total
As noted, coincidence is the more likely reason for the total of all numbers being 666. Roulette wheels were in operation many years before the link to the devil arose. The frequent reference to this heightened over the years, thanks to people like Blanc. Today, there is likely less superstition over it than there was in the earlier days. People tend to be more interested in playing the game and trying to win today. Religion and superstitions surrounding the devil were more commonplace back in the 1800s.
This hasn’t stopped some people from creating certain strategies to try and win. The fact that there are certain qualities to the included numbers has made this simpler. Some experts have conjured up systems like the Martingale and D’Alembert options. They exist as prominent roulette strategies, even today. Numbers and mathematics have often come into play when developing these systems.
To put it in a simple way, we can only guess at the reason why 666 is the tally on the roulette wheel. No evidence exists to provide an official explanation on it. Different people have come up with different theories over the decades. Some of those ideas are more believable than others. One thing is clear, though. Roulette has always been and will likely remain a popular casino game. That is the case regardless of what the numbers add up to on the wheel. The game has also produced some big winners over the years. Such was the case for Englishman Chris Boyd in 1994. He secured $440,000 in a single night on the Las Vegas roulette tables. So, it can’t be all demonic and bad, can it?