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  #1  
Old 01-16-2008, 02:44 PM
hruka hruka is offline
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I want to win a million dollars, what should I play?

I don't need 100 million, or even 10. I'd be quite content just winning 1 million dollars, which I could safely invest somewhere and get a nice boost to my annual income for the rest of my life on.
So what's the best lottery for that (I like in New Jersey). Do I play something like Mega Millions, and hope for the 2nd prize? Or play some lottery specifically oriented towards 1 million dollars?
Help :-)
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  #2  
Old 01-16-2008, 02:52 PM
Mahaloth Mahaloth is offline
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You don't play any lottery. Lotteries are just taxes for people who can't do math or comprehend odds.

Instead, invest wisely and save. This won't win you a million dollars, but will get it if you want it that much.

It's essentially impossible to win a million dollars.
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  #3  
Old 01-16-2008, 03:05 PM
friedo friedo is offline
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You could go on Who Wants to be a Millionaire? and win.
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  #4  
Old 01-16-2008, 03:07 PM
hruka hruka is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mahaloth
You don't play any lottery. Lotteries are just taxes for people who can't do math or comprehend odds.

Instead, invest wisely and save. This won't win you a million dollars, but will get it if you want it that much.

It's essentially impossible to win a million dollars.
That's just silly.
I understand the odds are terrible, but 'essentially impossible' is a bit of a stretch. Saying I can create a black-hole in my ass if I squeeze hard enough is essentially impossible, saying it's impossible to get a prize that dozens of people do daily is silly.

Once more, I understand that I most likely won't be winning a million dollars, but my odds of winning by buying 1 lottery ticket is roughly infinity times higher than by buying 0 lottery tickets. And somehow, spending $1 a week doesn't sound like the worst tax I'll be enduring come this April.

Nonetheless, just because I most likely won't win doesn't mean I should just blindly pick a lottery. If one lottery offers me 2x better odds than another one for the same prize, even if it's a very low set of odds, 2x is better.
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  #5  
Old 01-16-2008, 03:08 PM
hruka hruka is offline
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And if anyone let me on 'Who wants to be a millionaire', thatd be just lovely. Not because I have any silly notion of walking away with a million dollars, but because the questions up until like $16,000 are brain-dead easy, so after using my life-lines I could easily walk away with like $25-$50,000 or whatever the increments are, and be quite happy for the day.
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  #6  
Old 01-16-2008, 03:11 PM
ShibbOleth ShibbOleth is offline
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What's your starting pot to bet with? I'll send you my guide to winning $1 million, absolutely free, plus $19.95 shipping & handling.
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  #7  
Old 01-16-2008, 03:13 PM
Gadarene Gadarene is offline
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Poker.
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  #8  
Old 01-16-2008, 03:21 PM
hruka hruka is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gadarene
Poker.
Not looking to do anything but buy a ticket. Poker takes a lot more involvement, a lot more time, and usually a lot more money.
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  #9  
Old 01-16-2008, 03:38 PM
Shagnasty Shagnasty is offline
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Rough calculations show that a very high stakes Blackjack table may be the way to go. Get yourself to a high stakes gambling room, plunk down a $10,000 initial bet and then double your bets no matter what. The odds of making it until you pass $1,000,000 are roughly 1 in 260 which is better than any lottery I know of.
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  #10  
Old 01-16-2008, 03:49 PM
wolfman wolfman is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shagnasty
Rough calculations show that a very high stakes Blackjack table may be the way to go. Get yourself to a high stakes gambling room, plunk down a $10,000 initial bet and then double your bets no matter what. The odds of making it until you pass $1,000,000 are roughly 1 in 260 which is better than any lottery I know of.

Roulette is better than that, assuming the $10,000.

Taking a single number, Then a column(or vice-versa) will give you $1,150,000 at only around 1 in 80 odds.

Last edited by wolfman; 01-16-2008 at 03:51 PM..
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  #11  
Old 01-16-2008, 03:56 PM
wolfman wolfman is offline
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That just doesn't feel right, I must have screwed my math up again.

Aha found my screw-up. 1 in 120 not 1 in 80

Last edited by wolfman; 01-16-2008 at 03:59 PM..
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  #12  
Old 01-16-2008, 04:04 PM
Lanzy Lanzy is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wolfman
Roulette is better than that, assuming the $10,000.

Taking a single number, Then a column(or vice-versa) will give you $1,150,000 at only around 1 in 80 odds.
I agree but you just need $5 (min bet usually) and bet on black or red , over and over and over, but you have to be reeeeal lucky.
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  #13  
Old 01-16-2008, 04:18 PM
Mangetout Mangetout is offline
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Are you psychic? I mean, for real. Or can you bend spoons or something, but for real? If so, I think I know where you can walk it.
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  #14  
Old 01-16-2008, 05:19 PM
J Cubed J Cubed is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shagnasty
Rough calculations show that a very high stakes Blackjack table may be the way to go. Get yourself to a high stakes gambling room, plunk down a $10,000 initial bet and then double your bets no matter what. The odds of making it until you pass $1,000,000 are roughly 1 in 260 which is better than any lottery I know of.
The problem is what happens to your legs when you lose.
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  #15  
Old 01-16-2008, 05:56 PM
x-ray vision x-ray vision is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wolfman
That just doesn't feel right, I must have screwed my math up again.

Aha found my screw-up. 1 in 120 not 1 in 80
I think you were closer the first time. I'm getting 1 in 83.
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  #16  
Old 01-16-2008, 06:02 PM
mhendo mhendo is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mahaloth
Instead, invest wisely and save. This won't win you a million dollars, but will get it if you want it that much.
Yes, that's the secret to success in the stock market: wanting it that much! The return on your investment is directly proportional to how much you want it.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mahaloth
It's essentially impossible to win a million dollars.
Clearly untrue.

People win over $1 million every week somewhere in America in various lotteries. The odds against any particular person winning are astronomical, but it is not "essentially impossible to win a million dollars."
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  #17  
Old 01-16-2008, 06:04 PM
jimmmy jimmmy is offline
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There ought to be a Website calculating the odds.

Alot of Lotterys these days have these Million Dollar raffles where (in MD) you pay $20 and 6 guys win a Million dollars. Usually these are traditional raffles (where a certain number of tickets are sold and the winners chosen from among the pool buying tickets) offering dramatically better odds than anything in a traditional lottery - like 100's of thousands (rather than 10's of millions) to one against.

The cite seems to imply your odds of winning a million dollars with a $20 bet at Baccarat are overwhelmingly better than winning the lottery. YMMV

BTW Powerball and Megamillions 2nd prize is no were near a million dollars (200K and 250K respectively) although you can pay 5X more for your Powerball ticket and supercharge it and receive extra if you pull a second place
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  #18  
Old 01-16-2008, 09:47 PM
Mahaloth Mahaloth is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hruka
That's just silly.
I understand the odds are terrible, but 'essentially impossible' is a bit of a stretch. Saying I can create a black-hole in my ass if I squeeze hard enough is essentially impossible, saying it's impossible to get a prize that dozens of people do daily is silly.
My post was just silly? You wanted lottery advice.

I'm not saying winning the lottery is impossible, just that only dozens and dozens have done it(as you said). Dozens is nothing. Many millions play. Nearly all lose.

It is essentially impossible.

This is the General Question forum, right?

By the way, I do agree with other posters that Who Wants to be a Millionaire and other game shows are the best possible instant route. I merely focused on the lottery based on the OP.
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  #19  
Old 01-16-2008, 09:53 PM
DrDeth DrDeth is offline
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CA has a game once in a while where you buy a $20 ticket which gives you 5 shots at a Million $. They claim it is the best odds of winning that million.
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  #20  
Old 01-16-2008, 10:05 PM
Jragon Jragon is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by friedo
You could go on Who Wants to be a Millionaire? and win.
"I'd like to exchange my phone a friend lifeline for a 'post on the Straight Dope Message Board" lifeline"

Last edited by Jragon; 01-16-2008 at 10:05 PM..
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  #21  
Old 01-16-2008, 10:47 PM
commasense commasense is offline
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As others have said, playing the lottery is a Really Bad IdeaTM. Chances are as close to 100% as makes no difference that you will never again see any of the dollars that you play on the lottery. You might as well flush them down the drain.

On the other hand, every single dollar you place in a bank or a CD or a money market account will remain there and will actually increase. You will get far closer to $1 million dollars by placing one dollar a year in a bank account than you will by playing the lottery every day of your life.

That said, from the research I've done on the lottery (and I was considering writing a book about it for a while), the best you can do with the lottery is to slightly reduce the odds that you will share the pot with other people. You do this by playing combinations that average lottery players (i.e. dumb people) consider unlikely. For instance, 1,2,3,4,5,6. This combination is precisely as likely to be drawn as any other seemingly more random combination, like 4, 14, 23, 26, 30, 31. To the extent that lottery players choose certain combinations as "lucky" or avoid others as "unlikely," people who intentionally play the "bad" numbers are slightly less likely to have to share the pot if they win.

But since we've already determined that you're not going to win the lottery, this is somewhat akin to saying you're better off wearing a football helmet 24 hours a day instead of a tinfoil hat, in the event you get hit in the head by a meteorite.
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  #22  
Old 01-16-2008, 10:58 PM
Little Nemo Little Nemo is online now
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I'd go the roulette route. It's your best odds for winning a million dollars with minimal time or work expended. Much better odds than buying lottery tickets anyway.
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  #23  
Old 01-16-2008, 11:01 PM
Richard Pearse Richard Pearse is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by commasense
For instance, 1,2,3,4,5,6. This combination is precisely as likely to be drawn as any other seemingly more random combination, like 4, 14, 23, 26, 30, 31. To the extent that lottery players choose certain combinations as "lucky" or avoid others as "unlikely," people who intentionally play the "bad" numbers are slightly less likely to have to share the pot if they win.
1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 is a really bad lottery combination, and not in the sense you're talking about. Do you think that no one else has thought of this?

I remember a run of numbers coming up in a NZ lottery when I was living there (not 1 - 6 but similar) there were many times more winners than the usual. Why? Because you're not the only "smart" person out there. There are many people who choose 1 - 6 and other runs. When they come up you'll have less of the pot than if you went with something that seems more random.
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  #24  
Old 01-16-2008, 11:03 PM
Xema Xema is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by x-ray vision
I think you were closer the first time. I'm getting 1 in 83.
A 1 in 83 chance of turning $10k into $1M represents a very good bet indeed - it has a positive expected value. (IOW, if you do this 83 times, it costs $830K and on average you walk away with $1M.)
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  #25  
Old 01-16-2008, 11:11 PM
Snarky_Kong Snarky_Kong is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Xema
A 1 in 83 chance of turning $10k into $1M represents a very good bet indeed - it has a positive expected value. (IOW, if you do this 83 times, it costs $830K and on average you walk away with $1M.)
Given that casinos do have roulette, this means that those odds are wrong.

Black jack, as far as I know, is the only game you can play against the house and have a positive expected value. You're going to have to find a casino that doesn't continuously shuffle and allows a large variation in bets. Also one that won't kick you out for winning too much. Pretty much you're boned.
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  #26  
Old 01-16-2008, 11:14 PM
commasense commasense is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 1920s Style "Death Ray"
1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 is a really bad lottery combination, and not in the sense you're talking about. Do you think that no one else has thought of this?

I remember a run of numbers coming up in a NZ lottery when I was living there (not 1 - 6 but similar) there were many times more winners than the usual. Why? Because you're not the only "smart" person out there. There are many people who choose 1 - 6 and other runs. When they come up you'll have less of the pot than if you went with something that seems more random.
I don't think we disagree. I was only using 1,2,3,4,5,6 as a example that would strike the average person as not very random. But as you point out, there are lottery players who think they're being smart by playing less frequently played numbers (you can buy lists!) in the hope of not having to share when they hit. But as I was saying, that's just as stupid as playing the lottery.
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  #27  
Old 01-16-2008, 11:39 PM
2nd Law 2nd Law is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DrDeth
CA has a game once in a while where you buy a $20 ticket which gives you 5 shots at a Million $. They claim it is the best odds of winning that million.
Indiana ran one of these a while back. I doubt they'll ever do it again.

A link to the raffle...

http://www.in.gov/hoosierlottery/bes...llion/main.asp

325,000 tickets to be sold at $20 each ($6,500,000 in planned ticket sales) with two $1 million winners, five $100,000 winners, and 770 $1,000 winners (total pay out: $3,270,000).

The only problem: the prizes were guaranteed regardless of the number of tickets sold, and only 140,467 tickets ($2,809,340 worth) sold. Only in Indiana could the state lottery lose $460K on the lottery.

But the odds for those who played were actually pretty good (as lotteries go).
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  #28  
Old 01-16-2008, 11:59 PM
Triskadecamus Triskadecamus is offline
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Mega Millions is played 15 to thirty million times, twice a week. On well over half the draws, no one wins at all.

Oddly enough, your chances of picking the same number as some other guy are greater than the chances of picking the winning number.

(Hint: the ping pong balls are random, people are not.)

Tris
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  #29  
Old 01-17-2008, 12:55 AM
The Controvert The Controvert is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by friedo
You could go on Who Wants to be a Millionaire? and win.
For someone who likes lotteries, perhaps Deal or No Deal is a better choice? You start with a 1 in 26 chance of winning $1 million. Although if it were me, I would take an offer mid-way through the game if it's over $130k and invest the cash.
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  #30  
Old 01-17-2008, 08:20 AM
wolfman wolfman is offline
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The math issue is a simple mistake, that I made.

The odds of a single number are 1 to 37, and the odds of a column are 1 to 2.167 to one. When you simply multiply those you end up with 80. But I forgot that's "to" odds not "in" odds. which are actually 1 in 38 and 1 in 3.167. Which is where the 1 in 120 or so comes in.

And the fact that it gave a positive expectation, was the reason I realized I had made a mistake, and reason" it didn't feel right".
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  #31  
Old 01-17-2008, 09:25 AM
msmith537 msmith537 is offline
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I always assumed that if I was meant to win the lottery, my odds of finding an accidently discarded winning lottery ticket are only slightly lower than playing the lottery myself.
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  #32  
Old 01-17-2008, 09:43 AM
Xema Xema is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Triskadecamus
Oddly enough, your chances of picking the same number as some other guy are greater than the chances of picking the winning number.
(Hint: the ping pong balls are random, people are not.)
Even with fully random people, this would be true. There's one winning number compared to millions of different numbers picked by other players. So the chance of a match is vastly larger than the chance of a winner.
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  #33  
Old 01-17-2008, 09:44 AM
Sitnam Sitnam is offline
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I've always thought Wheel of Fortune was the easiest way to win lots of money. For the hardest show for the least amount I'd go with Win Ben Steins Money. Still, Ben's was more fun to watch.
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  #34  
Old 01-17-2008, 09:55 AM
Annie-Xmas Annie-Xmas is offline
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I have a friend in Nigeria who will send you a $1,000,000 after you make a payment of $20,000 for handling fees.
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  #35  
Old 01-17-2008, 10:00 AM
Sateryn76 Sateryn76 is offline
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How about the House of Dreams Charity Raffle? It seems the odds on this one are okay, but the ticket is $100....

I do love this one though...
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  #36  
Old 01-17-2008, 10:11 AM
conway conway is offline
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1.) Find a stock that's selling for $1 a share.

2.) Buy a million shares.

3.) Wait till stock hits $2 a share.

4.) Sell.

So easy...
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  #37  
Old 01-17-2008, 10:55 AM
TokyoBayer TokyoBayer is offline
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From jimmmy's linked article

Quote:
(I'm not going to cover every lottery game that exists, but the one with the best odds of winning a million dollars that I could find is the Georgia Lottery's Millionare Raffle,with odds of 1 in 125,000 to win a million bucks with a $20 ticket.)
so you only need to purchase 125,000 tickets to win. Thus, the easiest (not the smartest, just the easiest) way to win in a lottery is to start with $2.5 million, purchase the 125,000 tickets and collect your million.

Live happily ever after.
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  #38  
Old 01-17-2008, 11:32 AM
x-ray vision x-ray vision is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wolfman
The math issue is a simple mistake, that I made.
Me too. You were right the second time. But you're off a little on how much one would win.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Xema
A 1 in 83 chance of turning $10k into $1M represents a very good bet indeed - it has a positive expected value. (IOW, if you do this 83 times, it costs $830K and on average you walk away with $1M.)
I screwed up, it's a 1 in 120 chance. But you don't do anything 120 times, you only make two bets. On one of the bets you bet on a number. The probability of winning are 1 in 38 (2.63%) but the pay off is only 35:1. The house edge on this bet is 5.26%. The next bet is on a column, where you bet that out of a group of 12 numbers, for instance 1 through 12, that the ball will land on one of those numbers. The probability of winning are 12 in 38 (or 1 in 3.167) (31.58%) but the pay off is only 35:1. The house edge on this bet is also 5.26%.

The probability of winning both these bets is found by multiplying .0263 (2.63%) by .3158 (31.58%). That comes to a probability of .83% or 1 in 120.48

On the first bet you will turn $10,000 into $360,000. On your second bet you will turn 360,000 into $1,080,000, for a total profit of $1,070,000
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  #39  
Old 01-17-2008, 11:50 AM
fatgail fatgail is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hruka
I want to win a million dollars, what should I play?
professional football.
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  #40  
Old 01-17-2008, 12:50 PM
Will Repair Will Repair is offline
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Wait until a lottery jackpot exceeds the odds of winning then purchase all possible tickets.
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  #41  
Old 01-17-2008, 12:54 PM
Mijin Mijin is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wolfman
The math issue is a simple mistake, that I made.

The odds of a single number are 1 to 37, and the odds of a column are 1 to 2.167 to one. When you simply multiply those you end up with 80. But I forgot that's "to" odds not "in" odds. which are actually 1 in 38 and 1 in 3.167. Which is where the 1 in 120 or so comes in.

And the fact that it gave a positive expectation, was the reason I realized I had made a mistake, and reason" it didn't feel right".
The trouble with the gambling routes to $1 million, is that at each step you're risking more money. Any sane person would stop gambling long before reaching the target.

Obvious I know, but someone had to say it.

-------------------

One option perhaps, is to gamble for a while, and then when you inevitably win a five-figure sum, invest it in something safe, like property.
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  #42  
Old 01-17-2008, 01:04 PM
pravnik pravnik is offline
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Play "The Game of Life" and go the college route. Soon you'll be in Millionaire Acres!

Last edited by pravnik; 01-17-2008 at 01:05 PM..
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  #43  
Old 01-17-2008, 01:23 PM
fatgail fatgail is offline
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Originally Posted by pravnik
Play "The Game of Life" and go the college route. Soon you'll be in Millionaire Acres!
But don't be irresponsible and have too many pink and blue pegs...they suck up your money like an oreck XL
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  #44  
Old 01-17-2008, 01:27 PM
glee glee is offline
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It's been calculated that the odds of winning the National Lottery here are worse than being hit by a meteorite.
Every week millions of people lose millions of pounds on this Lottery. Only half the money is returned as prizes.

I on the other hand am well on the way to $1,000,000. It's taken me 34 years of working, but there has been little risk.
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  #45  
Old 01-17-2008, 01:38 PM
It's Not Rocket Surgery! It's Not Rocket Surgery! is online now
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Another option: in horse racing's Pick Six (select six winners in a row), any day where no one hits the wager ($2 minimum), 75% of the amount bet on that day is carried over to the next day. After several days of the wager not being hit, the Pick Six pool can be well over a million dollars - this happens most often at the major California tracks. Hollywood Park had one a few months back that approached 5 million dollars in the pool. This situation can be one with a significant positive expectation, due to all the extra money in the pools.

The problems: Because the days with large carryovers are so well bet, it's exponentially harder to hit it by yourself. Also, each race is not random and some horses are more likely to win than others in any given race, with commensurate lower payouts.

Still, it's a game of skill with a positive expectation, which is rare. But it sounds like it wouldn't meet your laziness tests, unless you picked random numbers.

Last edited by It's Not Rocket Surgery!; 01-17-2008 at 01:38 PM.. Reason: added last sentence.
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  #46  
Old 01-17-2008, 02:43 PM
flight flight is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Will Repair
Wait until a lottery jackpot exceeds the odds of winning then purchase all possible tickets.
And pray no one else hits it as well, thereby killing all profit.
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  #47  
Old 01-17-2008, 02:47 PM
flight flight is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by commasense
As others have said, playing the lottery is a Really Bad IdeaTM. Chances are as close to 100% as makes no difference that you will never again see any of the dollars that you play on the lottery. You might as well flush them down the drain.
I am a believer that the lottery is a tax on people who are bad at math, but even I will state that this is blatantly no true. You will get some of your money back, but only a fraction of it. There are a lot of very small prizes. It keeps people coming back. It also helps them to fool themselves into thinking that they are winning over the long term.

Oh, and to be fair to the lottery when comparing odds we need to start with same amount of money in each case. So, you need to work up from $1 to $1 million playing roulette or whatever.
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  #48  
Old 01-17-2008, 02:52 PM
gazpacho gazpacho is online now
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Originally Posted by glee
I on the other hand am well on the way to $1,000,000. It's taken me 34 years of working, but there has been little risk.
There is a significant risk of your soul being beaten down after so long working for the man.
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  #49  
Old 01-17-2008, 04:18 PM
glee glee is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by glee
I on the other hand am well on the way to $1,000,000. It's taken me 34 years of working, but there has been little risk.
Quote:
Originally Posted by gazpacho
There is a significant risk of your soul being beaten down after so long working for the man.
Since my job for the last 17 of those years has been teaching chess, roleplaying and computer games to schoolchildren , my spirits are high!
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  #50  
Old 01-17-2008, 04:41 PM
Tristan Tristan is offline
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Originally Posted by glee
Since my job for the last 17 of those years has been teaching chess, roleplaying and computer games to schoolchildren , my spirits are high!
It's come up before, but I just wanted to let you know that I hate you immensely.

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