A Comparative Analysis of Four-Leaf Clover Induced Luck

Dr. Patrick O’Shea McConnor

1 Department of Statistical Folklore Cranberry-Lemon University, Pittsburgh, PA, USA


Four-leaf clovers have long been known to give good luck to their holders. Though there have been some studies measuring the occurrence of four-leaf clovers, few have measured the quantitative good luck they provide. While some may have a lucky shirt, bag, or hat, it is difficult to gather enough data on one lucky object with any significant statistical certainty. With hundreds of thousands of Ancient Order of Hibernian certified four leaf clovers in modern circulation, there is plenty of means to collect enough data for a publishable and worthwhile study. By comparing a batch of four-leaf clovers to other luck charm totems including rabbit’s feet, the number 7, and a magical totem from Skull Island, we measured the quantitative luckiness of four-leaf clovers at the run down casino across the Highway, The Shady Lady. This study found that four leaf clovers induced a net luckiness of 57.5% in terms of average winnings compared to the net loss of 70.5% of the control group. 

Keywords:   Four-Leaf Clovers, Luck, Charms, Gambling, Rabbits Feet, The Number 7, Skull Island, Discount Casinos

1. Introduction

Since the 19th century, there has been evidence of Four-Leaf Clovers being used as luck charms. Many consider them lucky for their rarity. Some scientists claim that only about one in 10,000 clovers have four leaves instead of three [1] while other less lucky scientists have measured one four leaf clover per 20,000 [2]. Meanwhile a meta-study has shown that after applying accounting for a sampling bias, the real number is somewhere closer to 4,000 due to the likeliness of unlucky scientists searching for four leaf clovers in the first place because that’s such a boring project [3]. 

Though much research is invested into how frequent four-leaf clovers occur, very little has been measured of their lucky properties. Most believe the notion of luck is inherently anti-scientific while others claim that not measuring an “unscientific” thing and dismissing it with no evidence would be even more unscientific. Those scientists are normally too busy looking for ghosts and big foot. Luckily for the four-leaf clover, we would rather test our luck at The Shady Lady than spend the nigth in a haunted 19th Century Mansion or camping in the Northern Canadian Rockies so here we are. 

1.1 Four Leaf Clover

Finding and holding on to a four-leaf clover is a special occurrence whether you believe in it being lucky or not. They are rare and often used as symbols for good luck or to pander to the Irish American community. As the three-leaf clover was originally used by St. Patrick to explain the trinity, some believe finding a four-leaf clover will award you a bonus holy spirit and the ability to drive away snakes. In case the luck has spiritually pagan roots and to ensure maximum luckiness of the four-leaf clovers used in these tests were gathered by sorcerers under moonlight according to [4].

A close-up of a leaf

Description automatically generated with medium confidence
Figure 1: Four-leaf Clover

1.2 Rabbit’s Foot

The second totem to be tested at the Shady Lady for its good luck properties were some rabbit’s feet. These totems have been considered essential to the most sleazy gamblers for centuries. Keeping with the standards specified in The Journal of Gambling Arts and Sciences, each of our rabbits feet were acquired, also during a full moon, from the back left foot of an unblemished white forest rabbit [5].

1.7 The Number 7

I’m not sure why seven is considered a lucky number so here are some references on the subject I didn’t read so you can trust me [6-8]. Depending on what online blog you click on, it might have something to do with our biology, seven days in the week, God resting on the seventh day, or something about yin and yang harmony, or seven higher/underworlds in Hinduism or something about the Buddha. None of these are very “scientific” but neither is the notion of luck. Seven is a lucky number, and a sexy number, apparently in a lot of cultures, so naturally we should use it to baseline the clovers. 

1.3 Cursed Totem of Skull Island

Deep in the heart of the Indian ocean lies the cursed Skull Island. Through all her malice and hatred towards Mankind and the colonial powers at the time, Shaman Makani Koa created this cursed totem which has circulated around the world from traveler to traveler. Legend has it that the totem is indestructible outside of the dormant Skull Island volcano. Theoretically, a wearer pure of heart will obtain a tremendous amount of good luck, while those corrupted by greed will languish by its destructive power. 

Figure 2: Shaman Makani Koa’s Cursed Totem and Good Luck Charm
Figure 2: Shaman Makani Koa’s Cursed Totem and Good Luck Charm

2. Tests

Ten certified four-leaf clovers, ten rabbits’ feet, and the cursed totem of Shaman Makani Koa was given to twenty-one gamblers at The Shady Lady and told to keep track of their winnings and losses during the casino’s half priced margarita night last Thursday. Additionally, seven gamblers were told to only use the seventh slot machine in a row counting from East to West, and twenty-eight other gamblers were told to keep track of their winnings as a control group. In case the gambling (data collection) slowed down, a group of pushy loan sharks were told to offer their services to the gamblers. 

3. Results 

According to the results shown in table 1, the four-leaf clover is the most effective good luck charm with an average increase in gambling profits of 57.5%. Those only gambling at the seventh Blackjack chair, slot machine or roulette wheel did outperform the other groups but only increased their money by a meager 4.4%. These gamblers were additionally more conservative and slower to make big bets. Considering that the average gambler lost 70.5% of their money by only being accompanied by half priced margs, even the rabbit’s foot outperformed the control group at a loss of 19.5%. The rabbit’s foot gamblers were far more likely to go big and experienced a wider win loss spread with one gambler walking away with. 1.5k$ of profits before Big Jim, the chief of security, walked the gambler out of the casino. 

Bets/ PersonWinnings/ PersonPercent Increase
Four-Leaf Clover516.2$813.2$57.5%
Rabbit’s Foot1217.3$979.5$-19.5%
Number Seven112.3$116.7$4.4%
Cursed Totem of Skull Island180k$-12k$-106.7%
Table 1: Shady Lady Test Results

Unfortunately for the wearer of the Skull Island totem, they bet it all against their remortgaged house and lost it all while additionally accruing a pricey pay day loan to recoup their losses. At the start of the night, the gambler was on fire winning big left and right, but as he made more and more money, he lost his pure heart and fell to greed which turned his voodoo luck against him. He is now at peace with his loss because he was gambling for science. 

4. Conclusion

According to science and our whopping N=10 study, Four-Leaf clovers are the best good luck charms. While they increase the luck of their holder, they don’t encourage reckless abandon or punish those for their hubris. A follow-on study will be required to determine if this is a purely psychological effect, pagan magic, or if it does indeed give the owner a bonus Holy Spirit as first speculated in this paper. 


  1. Sombers, John, 2018 :: Frequency of Four Leaf Clovers in an International Clover Population :: Journal of OCD Hobbies
  2. Gerthers, Elizabeth 2016 :: Four Leaf Clover Rates in Irish Clover Fields :: Journal of the Worst Field Trips Ever
  3. Verimy J. 2019 :: A Psychological Profile of Clover Counters :: Annals of Researcher-O-Metrics 
  4. A Codex of Spells by the Irish Wizard Oengus Mac Róich 1583
  5.  Fats McGhee 2012 :: Ideal Rabbit Foot Collection Scheme :: Journal of Gambling Arts and Sciences
  6. Miller GA. The Magical number seve, pus or minus two: Some limits on our capacity for Processing information. Psychological Review 1954
  7. Westjohn, Stanford 2017 Eastern Versus Western Culture Pricing Strategy: Superstition, Lucky Numbers and Localization :: Journal of International Marketing
  8. Hussey, Hugh Md 1976 Numbers, Especially Lucky Ones

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Published by B McGraw

B McGraw has lived a long and successful professional life as a software developer and researcher. After completing his BS in spaghetti coding at the department of the dark arts at Cranberry Lemon in 2005 he wasted no time in getting a masters in debugging by print statement in 2008 and obtaining his PhD with research in screwing up repos on Github in 2014. That's when he could finally get paid. In 2018 B McGraw finally made the big step of defaulting on his student loans and began advancing his career by adding his name on other people's research papers after finding one grammatical mistake in the Peer Review process.

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