March 09, 2007

Now, Worse Than Ever!

There is such a thing in poker as "pot odds".

This is when the gambler works out what the chances of his winning are, judging by the cards he has seen and the number of opponents still in the hand; then he claculates the percentage that he would have to pay into the pot to stay in the hand; then he correlates the two numbers, and if the odds are not in his favour, that's a good reason to drop out of the hand.

In poker, always look for a reason to fold; never look for one to stay.

Legalized gambling has been going on in Canada for a long, long time, and working out the odds at our national lottery was done quite a while ago: it's about one in 14 million. That means that to a gambler, it would only be worth betting when the pot is worth $14 million for every dollar spent. Since tickets cost $2 each, the pot has to have a payout of $28,000,000 before it's worth buying in.

But wait! What about secondary prizes?

Well, with the avarage payout for second place being about $30,000 per winner, and the odds of winning being well below 1 in 2 million, do you really think it's worth considering? Or are you looking for a reason to stay in the hand?


The odds of winning either of the top prizes, even if you tried a million times, is less than 40%. As one fellow noted, you could play every draw (twice a week), and:

"The probability of never once winning first, second or third prize over 3120 draws is 94.39%."

Third prize? That's five out of six numbers, at 1 in 55 thousand odds. It pays off about $1,800 a pop. Not a great way to invest $6,240, is it?

Still, it's a nice little fantasy to peruse now and again... Having a few million dollars in my grubby and ill-deserving hands would be a sure way to bring about my downfall (I'm sure I'm thouroughly corruptable, if only given half a chance!), but then I found out that *gasp* the Lottery Corporation may not be completely honest with their numbers!

And another dream lies shattered.

Well, there's still Vegas, and you can't tell me getting married isn't a gamble...


posted by Thursday at 11:33 pm


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