By Ryan Ong, MoneySmart Blog, 08 November 2018
Picture posted by SG Young Investment, SGYI on Thursday, 17 October 2013 at 8:52 PM
Big Sweep, 4D, Toto… so many ways to win at the Singapore Pools. On top of that, a ticket is just a few dollars. Even if you have a snowball’s chance in a microwave, that small investment is worth the potential payoff right?
Besides, there are systems – whole books – you can use to improve your odds. In this article, I examine the numbers behind it and talk to some serious lottery players.
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Just for the sake of reference, the odds of getting a Royal Flush in Poker, on the first 5 cards, is around 650,000 to 1. So with the exception of 4D, you might be better off just playing Poker. Or betting on the PGA tour. The odds of a pro-golfer getting a hole-in-one are 5000 to 1, around seven times more likely than winning Group 3 Toto.
Fun Statistics: You are more likely to be struck by lightning (1 in 240,000)
Instead of being a 发财猫, Fā cái Māo, you may be a death 猫 Māo.
Picture posted by DrWealth
Winning punters’ success stories
I found some punters who claim to have won it big in the lottery. Coincidentally, one of them I meet every morning:
Ellice (pronounced ‘Alice’) Kwong is a housewife, with two children in JC. I run into her at the MRT station every morning. She tells me, “I’m not sure how much I spend also. You ask me also I don’t remember. Maybe ＄60 one month. ＄20 for 4D, ＄40 for Toto. I think should be more than most people spend. But you know I got win so many times! Four times already. If my luck is good just play lah.”
Dominic Wang is another serious punter. He’s a former house mover, who now deals in light fixtures. He says, “I spend around ＄50, maybe more. I think with the right system, it’s quite possible to win. I’ve won twice myself, once I won over ＄3000. I think as long as you know what you are doing, you don’t go and randomly tikam-tikam*, the odds are not as bad as most people think.”
*Tikam-tikam – Roadside gambling game, very popular in the ’60s. The irony is noted.
Picture posted by Purple Mamba Club on 03 August 2018 - Gamble for love
Not-so-lucky punters who lost more than won
Most of the lottery lovers I spoke have an entirely different experience.
Jerome Quok is a Mass Communications student, who moonlights as a short order cook. He tells me, “I spend at most ＄10 a month. Maybe less. I don’t really go with the mindset that I will win. It’s just for the excitement when I check the results. It’s more like entertainment than an actual investment. I only ever won once, and it was something pathetic. Less than ＄100.”
Mind you, the win was after playing regularly for four or five years.
Aaron Siew is one of those friends I love to hate. He’s does typesetting for brochures and magazines. While he comes over to borrow more DVDs, I ask about his Toto obsession.
He says, “I guess I spend about ＄20 a month. I promised that I will win Toto at least once in my life. It’s a ‘must do before I die’ thing. I don’t care even if it’s consolation prize, so long as I win at least once in my life. I’ve never won ANY lucky draw or anything before.”
When asked if that was precisely why he should not buy, he shrugged and said he enjoys it.
I asked Jenna McCormick, who lives two floors below me. She’s a housewife, with one child in Primary school.
“I think Louisa (her mother-in-law) has a bad influence on me. When she buys, I’ll buy. That’s about ＄20 a month, but some months I don’t buy at all. I don’t really understand the different systems, she (Louisa) will tell me how to colour the slots in. I won once, it was a few hundred dollars. So I split it with her and we had a big party at Pizza Hut, and my share was all gone after that!”
Most of the lottery lovers have an entirely different experience.
Picture posted by Anonymous on Friday, 28 September 2018 at 21:15:40 - Legend of the Cryptids
Investment vs payoff
Of the 12 people I spoke to, only one has actually seen a return on his investment. Here is a cost-benefit comparison:
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To put it in perspective, think about the last investment scheme you saw. How would you react if someone showed you an investment scheme where, after five years, your reward would be somewhere between ＄1500 and negative ＄1200?
Pros and cons of playing the lottery
These are the upsides of investing in the lottery:
- Ad-hoc payments: If you don’t have enough, just don’t play that month. This means you need less planning and discipline than if you used a regular investment scheme.
- Affordability: Assuming you don’t get obsessed, you won’t feel the pinch of the lottery. The amount spent is small, unlike the monthly payments on an investment scheme.
- Easy: No forms to sign, or documents to produce. Just buy a ticket, that’s it.
- Fun: Some people use the lottery as a way to relieve stress or tension.
Picture posted by illumination-infini.com - Devil Goddess of Gambling
And the downsides:
- Negative growth: The longer you play the lottery, the more you actually lose. In almost all cases, there is a negative return on investment.
- High improbability: The odds of winning a prize, even enough to just break even, is very low.
- Unpredictable payouts: Some forms of lottery, like Toto, vary the prize money based on the number of winners. That means there’s no way to accurately determine the potential winnings.
So there you have it: the only check you’re going to get is a reality check. Highly improbable wins, with a worse ROI than any financial plan on Earth. Which leaves one to wonder: would people actually invest more in banks if the advisers just threw up their arms and said: “Who knows? Just give us the money and we’ll randomly pay it out!”
Negative growth: The longer you play the lottery, the more you actually lose. In almost all cases, there is a negative return on investment.
Picture posted by illumination-infini.com - Devil Goddess of Gambling
Fun Statistics on How to Win 4D and Toto  (Source: Singapore Pool)
- Your odds of getting murdered in Singapore is 1 in 480,000
- Your odds of becoming President of Singapore is 1 in 567,000
- Every 4D number has the same chance of (1 in 10,000), and it is regardless of where the ticket is purchased
- Your chance of striking the first prize in TOTO jackpot is 1 in 14,000,000
- You are more likely to celebrate your 100th birthday (1 in 50) and more like to be struck by light night (1 in 240,000)
Your odds of becoming President of Singapore is 1 in 567,000.
Picture posted by ©Jacetan, Megapixl.com
 DrWealth, How to Win Toto and 4D Even if You’re Sibeh Suay (2018), posted on 06 September 2018, https://www.drwealth.com/how-to-win-toto-and-4d/
 Renée Peltz Dennison Ph.D., Heart of the Matter, Do Half of All Marriages Really End in Divorce?, posted on 24 April 2017, https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/heart-the-matter/201704/do-half-all-marriages-really-end-in-divorce
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