Why do people regularly play the National Lottery?
I would imagine that most are thinking that they have a chance, albeit a small one of winning the jackpot which would produce that life changing win. More money than they could have ever dreamt of!
Of course, only a very small number of people in reality have experienced that scenario, but when playing the lottery there is always that hope.
The same hopes and dreams apply to all forms of gambling to some extent.
For example, ‘Average Joe Punter’ may go to the casino and think about that potential big win on the roulette table. You can imagine the scene …. sitting there his mind wanders ………. ‘50 quid on number 27 – one day it will happen … and why not today? £500 in my pocket, gives me 10 chances of potentially winning £1750.’
Now, those of us who fully understand probability and probability theory will appreciate that ‘Joe’s’ chance of winning is less than 3% on each roll. And, over the longer term, due to the zero, or double zero, he will lose money.
If casinos did not have an edge built in, they would quickly go out of business.
Now Joe could argue that if the ball nestles in the 27 slot within these first 10 plays, he’ll be ‘well in the money’. Correct assumption Joe should that happen, but the chances of the number 27 appearing in 10 rolls is actually only around 25%. Also, each time 27 does not occur the chances of making money diminishes rapidly.
The problem with probability is that what has gone before is irrelevant.
If you have been at the roulette table and that “magic number “27 has not appeared once after 100 ‘plays’, the chance of it occurring on the next roll or spin is still less than 3%.
This is where several people have gone wrong in the past and will continue to do so in the future.
For the record I set up an excel sheet which mimicked 1000 spins of a lottery wheel by using a function called ‘RANDBETWEEN’. The results for each specific number are tabulated below:
Quite a fluctuation over 1000 spins in terms of individual numbers.
The number 32 for example came up 38 times (3.8% of time), whereas 21 occurred just 17 times (1.7% of the time). ‘Joe’s’ favourite number 27 fared fairly poorly with it occurring just 20 times (2% of the time).
Indeed, at one point the number 27 did not occur for 178 consecutive spins. That is a lot of 50 pound notes chucked away before you net that big £1750 win.
Just to make Joe wince, I should say that 178 consecutive losses at £50 ‘a pop’ equates to an eye watering loss £8900. A win of £1750 would not make much of a dent in those losses.
Horse racing offers these big win scenarios too.
Each day there is a jackpot to be won – the Tote Jackpot. However, winning the Tote Jackpot requires you to pick 6 winners at the designated race meeting, which clearly is very tough to say the least. Of course, occasionally that dream win becomes reality. Steve Whiteley in 2011 secured a Tote Jackpot win in excess of 1.4 million – so it can happen, but it is rare.
Now it should be stressed here that all Tote bets are “pool” bets so just like the lottery any Tote Jackpot win will be shared if two or more people successfully pick the same six winning horses. (I will go into more detail about ‘pool’ betting in a moment).
In terms of trying to win ‘big’ on the horses, I guess predicting the first two horses’ home is a bet that many readers have tried at some point. Me too ….
Now back in the day when draw biases were more prevalent and not widely appreciated forecasting the first and second home were a good source of profits for me.
However, in reality, with the percentages stacked in the favour of the Tote or the bookmakers, is 1-2 betting something we should not even think about?
For our Gold members David tells us when the Tote is the much better place to make your big, priced bets. You can upgrade here.