Friday, April 20, 2007

Re: Lotto

Every week the National Lottery promises to make someone a millionaire. Simply pick six numbers between and including one and forty-nine and if your numbers match those chosen by the lottery machine on the following Saturday, you've won.

It all sounds relatively simple, doesn't it?

The odds are about 14,000,000-1, which are the same odds as the chance of you swallowing a badger in your sleep. And the odds of those odds being the same is also 14,000,000-1.

One way of shortening the odds is to form a syndicate, a group of friends or colleagues who all contribute a pound, or more, to purchase one ticket, or more, each. If your syndicate has two people the odds are 7,000,000-1, if it has seven people 2,000,000-1, if it has fourteen people 1,000,000-1 and so on and so forth. So if you're one of those people who doesn't have 14,000,000 friends, the chances are that you'll be pretty hard pushed to reduce the odds to evens. In fact, even if you did have 14,000,000 friends, with the average jackpot total standing at about £8,000,000, you would still lose out.

This begs the question, why form a syndicate?

They're not new, far from it. Many people form syndicates in order to win the football pools. But in this instance there is a method in the madness. The more crosses you have in one permutation, the more chance you have of matching with more score draws. The more crosses you have in each permutation, the more it costs. So, in order to be able to afford the cost of your perms (and I don't mean going to the hairdressers every week), you can split the cost between the members of your syndicate. The end result assuming you win is, of course, the same. The prize money is shared between the members of the syndicate.

More tickets more chances more expense. More crosses more chances more expense.


Here though is where the lottery syndicate fails to deliver. A football pools syndicate is often honed from the collective football intelligence of many people. Their foundations lie in the working clubs and pubs of Great Britain. Lifelong friends whose rights to join syndicates have been handed down throughout generations. With the football pools you have a chance to study form. It's unlikely that a cup fixture between Manchester United and Stalybridge will produce a score draw. However, a game between Manchester United and Liverpool would no doubt create some interesting debate, and might only be resolved after the seventh or eighth pint. In the event of a jackpot win the money has been won by the syndicate and each member is deserved of a share.

But compare this to the lottery syndicate. The horrible randomness of it all. Arguments over whether or not the number three is more likely to appear than the number twenty-three. There is no form, no history, no theory behind it, unless you rely purely on probability. When the lottery syndicate wins there is only one winner, the person who holds the ticket. They must then share their winnings with everyone else. Everyone who hasn't really deserved it.

Of course, for everyone else it is a dream come true.

Members of lottery syndicates nationwide should ask themselves one question. "If I win £8,000,000 do I want to give most of it away?" If the answer is no then the solution is simple. Whatever numbers you have on your ticket, buy an identical one. If a syndicate of four has the lottery's only winner, and you are that winner, and you've got two tickets, you win £5,000,000.

They only get a poxy £1,000,000 each.


Ordinary Girl said...

Now quote - you should know you can't reason with serendipity!

Besides, how would most of us manage to spend a £1m, let alone 5!!

Anonymous said...

The same odds as swallowing a badger in my sleep – ha ha ha, I love that line.

Nice work, “Quote”. Let’s have more of this kind of thing please. It's what you're best at.

Angela-la-la said...

If I'm gonna eat a badger I think I'd wanna know about it.

Anonymous said...

Intriguing, but shurely a smaller share of a big win is better than a whole share of nowt..?

I didn't really get the conclusion bit either - who wouldn't be happy winning just 1 million..!

Love the badger swallowing however.