There is an established level of superstition in China when it comes to numbers, in general, not to mention in gambling. Some numbers are good omens that can lead to the person making the most out of a situation. Many numbers are good luck, and many are bad luck, however in some situations the luck of a number depends mostly on the context in which is it placed. For example, numbers like 9, 8, 6, and 0 are particularly good luck as their name sounds similar to phrases with positive meanings. This sort of tonal appreciation for words in the language is why certain numbers have a particular meaning that can vary from region to region. Here are some general examples of these numbers being used.
0 (檸 or 零, )is an important number when it comes to dealing with money, especially in terms banking and gambling as the word for money ends in an 0. The number also represents opportunity and the prospects for the future.
This number (二 or 两, ) is a very positive number in China. In Chinese culture they say that good things come in pairs, so much so that it’s a phase often used in advertisements, for example you might find signs in China with phrases like “make yourself double happy with Golden Soap”. This number is meant to both invoke luck in the minds of potential customers and to bring luck to the ad campaign.
In Chinese the sound of the number 3 (三) sounds similar to the word for “birth” (生). Consequently in China birth is an auspicious construct and the word is linked closely to the concept of luck. Another example of the number’s auspicious nature is founded in the belief of the three key aspects of life: birth, marriage, and death, much like the answer to the Sphinx’s riddle. This number is lucky because it reflects the totality of life and the potential for luck.
5 (五) is a number founded in spiritualism as much as it is in practical everyday luck. It evokes the concept of the five elements: Fire, Earth, Wood, Water, and Metal concepts essential to Chinese philosophy. You can see this number all over the country’s most important historical sites like the Tiananmen gate to the Forbidden City, which features five arches. Mandarin the pronoun “I” (我, Pinyin: wŏ, and 吾, Pinyin: wú) sounds just like the number five. By representing the self, it is believed that this number has value in games of chance and business.
In the Cantonese dialect, the number six represents wealth and prosperity, which is why in gambling establishments like those in Macau; you will see gamblers making side bets involving that number. In the Mandarin dialect, the number is pronounced the same as “liu” that is similar to “flow” thus is considered to be good luck for business. The number is very often found in the world of Chinese fortune telling as well. Many professional people in China consult fortune tellers who inform them on how this number governs their lives.