Thursday, 23 June 2011

How to win the lottery. Part 3: The Scam

Thus concludes the epic trilogy that is "How to win the lottery". If you were wondering, yes there will be a digitally remastered special extended edition, some disappointing prequels and I'm currently working on a 3D version that is bound to be an embarrassment for all concerned.

In Parts 1 and 2 we learnt that if Mr Sucker buys a quickpick every week for fifty years, he will lose about $14,000.

Is there any way that he could increase his odds of coming out ahead? Yes, there is, but before you proceed, I must warn you that each of these techniques brings with it a terrible curse. Enjoy.

Put everything into one ticket
Due to a quirk of probability theory, if Mr Sucker spent the total $20,400 in one go, rather than spreading it out over the 50 years, his odds would increase dramatically, one might say spectacularly, from a measly 1 in 251.6 to an astonishing 1 in 251.1. But then he would miss out on the anticipation of the draw every week, which is the whole point anyway. And his testicles would shrivel up like sultanas.

Spend more money
Mr Sucker could drop his coke habit and funnel some of that money into lottery tickets. The more you buy, the better the odds. The downside is that you also increase your likely losses. Your chance per $1 invested is always the same - there is no way of improving this no matter what anybody tells you. Spending $7.85 per week is a bit of fun, spending $785 a week is a really bad idea. Please don't do that.

Also, if you use this method, your first born child will become a Young Liberal.

Pick rare combinations
Mr Sucker buys sets of randomly generated numbers each week. He knows enough about probability to know that lucky numbers are pointless. What he doesn't know is that, while his chance of winning 1st division is the same no matter what the combination of numbers (because every number has an equal chance of being picked), he could increase his chances of a bigger payout if he picked numbers that no one else picked.

Except he can't know what everyone else chooses and a lot of people choose numbers randomly generated on a computer.

Still, according to my rudimentary research, the most common number chosen is 8 and the least common 13, while numbers above 31 are also less likely to be picked.

Another way to guess the rare numbers would be to trawl through the previous results and find the numbers that gave the biggest payouts. But then you have to ask yourself, how many other people are doing exactly the same thing?

Also, if you do this your favourite TV show will get cancelled - or Channel 9 will show it so many times each week that it gets ruined.

Join a syndicate
This is similar to the spend more money section, except it's not Mr Sucker's money being spent, it is other people's. Woohoo... free money! The benefit is a much better chance of winning 1st or 2nd division. Previously I explained that the Mr Sucker's likely losses will be 69% of his investment, because he will almost certainly not win 1st or 2nd division playing by himself*. By investing that money in a big syndicate, he will decrease his likely loss to closer to the government mandated 54%, thereby losing less money in the long run. The downside is that because he only wins a proportion of the winnings equal to the proportion of money he invested in the syndicate (or even less if the organiser of the syndicate takes a cut, which is common), he will have zero chance of winning the magic $1 million all for himself.

He will also spend eternity having to try and read this website without having a seizure.


And then there are the ways that give you no extra chance of winning.

Play a systems entry
Instead of buying games of just six numbers, Mr Sucker could choose games of seven or more numbers from which the six winning numbers need to come. A system 7, for example, gives you exactly seven times the probability of winning, but it also costs exactly seven times as much as a regular game. Plus if he did this people would discover that he was the real author of a lesbian blog.

Pay someone for winning numbers, or use some bogus software program
There are a plethora of websites offering books, advice, software and personalised systems designed to increase your chance of winning. For example here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here here or here. (WAIT A SECOND! All of these websites are advertising the same products and the information in them is basically identical, apart from different garish colour schemes and horrible templates**. They also seem to be run by the same guy.).

If you are tempted by any of these, just remember one simple rule. You cannot win more than 46% of what you put in unless you are lucky. No system can improve this percentage. These websites claim that they can provide numbers that can "win every single week". This is true, but you will almost always "win" less than you put in. You could just as easily design a system where you win every second week, but win twice as much, or win once a year, and win 52 times the amount you would win from an "every week" system. In the end, you will lose, on average, the same amount no matter what system you use.

I expect that most of the people selling these systems genuinely believe in them. They are wrong.

Also, if you buy one of these systems, you will get seven years bad luck. Probably not the smartest move, then.

Save up for the jackpot
Mr Sucker could bide his time and only play when the jackpot is really huge. This would slightly increase his odds of winning more if he played something like Oz Lotto, where the odds are so ridiculously high that hardly anybody ever wins, and when somebody does, it is usually just the one winner. With Tattslotto, where multiple people win 1st division every week, the super draws often pay the same or less than regular draws, exactly because people bide their time and then put all of their money into them, meaning more people win and the prizes get spread thinner. The last $21 million Tattslotto draw paid out less per winner than the two following weeks with standard $4 million draws. If he were smart he would therefore bet big the week after a big draw, because everyone will be hung over from the previous week and not as many bets will go down. Or it could just be a coincidence. Probably a coincidence.


Money back guarantee
I promised that I would provide a guaranteed way to win 1st division in Tattslotto, and because you've been kind enough to read this far I'm going to give you two. In fact, I guarantee that these are the only two methods that will guarantee you a 1st division prize.

  1. Buy all 8 million plus possible combinations. This will, cost you about $5 million, and you will lose 54% of your money, but, well, actually I don't really have anything else to add to this. It is a stupid idea.
  2. Be incredibly, ridiculously, outrageously lucky.

I told you you'd be pissed.

Good luck.


One last point. Remember Cedric from Part 1?
"Hey Bob, I did some sums, and do know what?" 
"If you invested the money you spend on Tattslotto every week at just 5% interest, after fifty years you would have a very tidy $91,000. What do you think of that, Sucker?" 
"And if you bought one less porno a week, you'd have $150,000. What's your point?"
"I, uh, I retract my previous statement."
Besides, Mr Sucker would otherwise just blow the money on, er, Blow. Or blowjobs.


If you disagree with any of my maths, then there is a good chance that you are right. Leave a comment or send me an email at daryl at thecrapologist dot com and I'll make any necessary corrections. If you are really keen, you can see my working on this spreadsheet, although you may also get an uncomfortable insight into the working of my brain (I may tidy it up at some point, but it's mostly all there, somewhere).

* If he'd just learn to play with himself, he'd have much more money to spend on gambling.

** I have a confession to make. Some people are racist, some are sexist. I am neither. I am, however, internetist. If you build a website that looks like it was out of date in the '90s, with a totally incomprehensible layout and a different font in every paragraph etc., then you will have to work very hard for me to take anything you have to say seriously. If you have at least ten equally offensive websites, then it will be ten times as hard***. Terry Fisher, you have a lot of work to do.

*** If Pfizer wants to pay me $10,000, they can use that on their marketing material.

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