The Lottery Sucker.
Thursday, October 5, 2006. 11:27PM
Long time readers will be aware that Zeedar Teretz’s gambling losses stand somewhere in the region of one thousand Australian dollars. Sure, I’ve had some success on the poker tables since then, but similarly I’ve had some losses, and all up I’ve probably offset my big loss by about ten dollars. If I keep this up I may just break even by the year 2100.
My losses were due to a system that retrospective research has revealed is popularly known as the Martingale system, and is flawed in one very obvious mathematical way. Sure, the odds of you loosing eight games in a row are 1/20,000, however, in order to make the sweet cash I dreamed of making, 20,000 games is how many you are going to have to play. It can work for a period (as I demonstrated), but sooner or later you are reduced to simple gambling. You are staking it all on the proposition that the thing you know will happen will happen later rather than sooner.
Sure, I could take another thousand into a black jack room; play till I’d broken even, then quit. Sure I could work on my poker skills and play that professionally, becoming good enough at the game of skill to make an income off it. All that, however, screams of effort. Screams of long term commitment. Screams of risk. No, what I needed was a sure fire way to beat the biggest game of all.
I was going to take on the lottery.
The thing about the lottery is that it’s for suckers. The payoff ratios are all wrong. On your average lottery - one that hasn’t jackpotted for weeks and weeks – the pay off is three or four million. That’s a lot of money, sure, but the odds of winning are so much smaller than the amount you win. The chances of getting the right six balls from a barrel of forty five? That’s gotta be more than forty million to one. That means you’ll win once for every forty million tickets you buy. That means you’re going to be out more than fifty million dollars.
Some years ago, thanks to a hobby involving miniature tin-alloy soldiers making their way six inches at a time across fields with polystyrene hills and bottlebrush trees, Zeedar Teretz became very interested in the roll of dice (which decided the fates of said soldiers). It quickly became apparent to me that the roll of your standard domesticated dice is far from even. On the dice that have the dots painted on the surface, the side with six on it obviously has more paint, and is therefore the heaviest side. This makes the six the most likely side to end up on the bottom (and therefore one is the most likely result), followed, in descending order, by the other six numbers. The dice that have indents in the where the numbers are have the one as their heaviest side, making six the most likely result. You can buy casino precision dice that compensate for this at a retail of about $10AUD each.
Watching the lottery be drawn on TV, I was struck by the lack of precision in the process. Those don’t look like highly engineered carbon fibre unbiased lottery balls to me. They look like ping pong balls painted different colours. I began to wonder if there wasn’t a bias of some kind in there.
Tattersall’s, Australia’s primary lottery organisation, are good enough to provide a database of all past draws on their website, and thanks to my knowledge of the standard query language, I was quickly able to generate the following frequency table for OzLotto game, which at the time of my entry had jackpotted to $10,000,000, offering the best payoff (and one of only two division one wins large enough for me to retire on).
As we can see from the tally, there was substantial statistical difference between the most frequently occurring numbers (29 at 135 occurrences) and the least (5 with 84 occurrences).
What this fundamentally meant was that fifteen percent of the numbers occurred eighteen percent of the time, and by playing those numbers, your chances would improve ever so slightly.
Tatterstalls declare on their website that the odds of winning division one OzLotto are 1 : 45,379,620. I reckon my system would take that down to about 1 : 44,018,231.
Alright, I admit it, it’s a long shot.
Still, black jack was a lot less long shot, and that lost me hundreds of dollars. All this is going to cost is $1.50
Of course, for the convenience of buying online, in private, from your bedroom that is filled with tables of statistical analysis of lottery numbers (and not filled with belligerent clerks judging you as just another lottery sucker), you have to deposit money into an online account at tattersalls.com.au. The minimum deposit is $10.
Also you get the option to buy more numbers. A ticket with eight numbers, for example, will set you back $8.50. A ticket with 24 of the potential 45 numbers selected will cost you $25,000. I don’t like risks, so I went for the 8 numbers, and got a $1.50 quick pick as well to fill out the $10.
My numbers were the eight most commonly drawn numbers in OzLotto, 11, 27, 28, 29, 35, 38, 40 and 43; and seven more ‘randomly’ generated numbers: 43, 8, 9, 11, 33, 34, and 35.
And right there, as soon as I had my ticket in my possession, I got the point of lotto, because straight away I began to think about how what life would be like after I was a millionaire. I could retire, for one. That’d be nice. Put six million in the bank and life off the seven percent the rest of my life. Buy a sweet house, a Lamborghini and a bunch of fancy ladies with the rest. A few hours later I had worked out all the details for the party I’d throw my friends – where it’d be, how much I’d put on the tab, who I’d invite, and what I’d tell the bouncers. I had a date in mind, which would allow for me to get a party suit tailor made, and I knew what kind of cigars I’d get and where I’d store them while I waited for my walk in humidor to be built. As I lay in bed that night I started rehearsing the speech I’d make at one point in the evening. I even gave a thought to you guys, and how this site would be come a blog where I review products and experiences non-millionaires won’t ever be able to get. Writing about it would be my way of staying in touch with the common man. I’ve heard the lotto advertise itself as your chance to dream, and that’s exactly what it is: hope. You sit around and think about how good it’s going to be. It’s a dollar fifty ticket to a five hour movie where I play Brad Pitt.
And then, the draw.
18, 43, 24, 33, 34, 23, and 8.
One of the eight most commonly drawn numbers had come up.
One of the eight most commonly drawn numbers, and four of my random selection. I was one 66,584 winners division six winners, entitled to an equal share of a little under 1.5 million dollars. It worked out to $21.50.
But you know what? My system didn't really work, but I still won the mother-fucking lottery. Odds on division are 1 : 154. That’s a hell of a mother fucking split. One game and I more than doubled my outlay! Fuck you guys. I aint a lottery sucker. I’m a mother fucking lottery winner!