The Power of Ones

Las Vegas has a fascination with numbers, especially when they seem to be lucky ones. Witness the barrage of 11-11-11 specials designed to cash in on the once-in-a-century numeric convergence this Nov. 11—$11.11 show tickets, 11-times point multipliers at locals casinos, $1,111 prizes and even $11,111 long-shot jackpots.

This kind of obsession is mostly a post-millennial phenomenon, fit for our information-age tribalism—a world of logos and symbols and magical thinking. Las Vegas’ first 11-11-11, Nov. 11, 1911, passed without any discernible hoopla—no 11-cent horse rental promos from the Las Vegas Livery or $1.11 union suit specials from Will Beckley’s men’s store. Likewise, another date that would seem to have a natural Vegas connection, July 7, 1977, didn’t cause much of a stir. Blame it on the Carter-era malaise.

The thrill of starting over with all of those zeroes in 2000 started the get-married-on-a-date-you-can’t-forget craze, but things really took off in 2007. June 6, 2006, might have been a good day to release an Omen remake, but there weren’t legions of people flocking to Las Vegas to get married on a date that some relate to the Number of the Beast. (It’s a well-regarded Iron Maiden album, to be sure, but not a number that inspires marital bliss.) July 7, 2007, though, was different: Seven’s the luckiest number in Western tradition, and couples packed Vegas wedding chapels. The following year, Aug. 8 was an extremely propitious date for attracting luck-seeking Asian visitors, mostly at the tables, but there was some wedding business as well.

At this point, there’s the feeling that we’d better enjoy the repetitive-date fun while we can: after next year—12-12-12!—we won’t see anything quite like this for another 100 years. So it is that, in a perfect Vegas storm, wedding chapels are fanning the 11-11-11 fever, but road closures for the downtown Veterans Day parade will impact access to the County’s Marriage License Bureau.

Eleven is a number this town just can’t ignore: It’s a winning come-out roll on the craps table. And then there’s Ocean’s Eleven. You can’t get much more Vegas than Frank and his buddies pulling off the ultimate casino heist.

Even if 11-11-11 isn’t actually luckier than any other day on the calendar, it has the look of something special—all those slim digits telling you … what, exactly? Whatever you want to hear.

Now, that’s Vegas.

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