I Married a Statistician: Pt. II ( OR a Question of BINGO!)

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(Click to enlarge)

I persist in the occasional practice of buying lottery or scratch off lotto tickets despite regular feedback from my statistically savvy spouse that I have a snowball’s chance in Hell of ever winning.

Here’s how he explains the probability to me:

Your odds of winning the 5 of 5 California lottery as well as the mega number are less than 1 in 175,000,000
Your odds of winning 5 of 5 lottery are around 1 in 4,000, 000
Your odds of winning the super lotto 5 of 5 plus mega number are 1 in around 40,000, 000
In other words, you are never going to win, and this is a waste of money.

“Okay. FINE,” I say. “I’ll buy ten tickets then.”

He says, “In actuality that will not increase your odds of winning.”

“What do you MEAN?” I say, “If I buy 1,000 lottery tickets, this won’t increase my odds of winning the Lottery at ALL?”

His answer, “Mathematically yes, Actuality, no.”

You see, this is where I start to get peevish with these math n***s, I mean people, they’re so, equivocating……

Anyhoo, back to the subject of BINGO.

I recently bought 5 Lotto tickets. Upon scratching off the first ticket, I was able to ascertain that this card required more than the usual determination of whether I got a winning, $5 -$5 -$5 combo or, better yet, the lucky $50,000-$50,000-$50,000 combo, which I know I’m gonna get really soon since the odds are in my favor.
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This matching three numbers type of computational activity is already stretching the outer limits of my most advanced mathematical capabilities.

This card had actual numbers, in COLUMNS, that required CALCULATIONS, plus additional WEIGHTING FACTORS!

See sample cards: (click to enlarge)
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Due to religious and ethical considerations, as I have explained before, I do not partake in such mathematical misadventures, and leave all of this type of questionable activity solely to my savant spouse.

So, I left the five tickets on his desk after he went to bed, with a nice post-it-note, asking him to figure out whether or not I (we of course) had won.

In the morning I found five of these sheets on my desk, along with a nice note attached saying:

“Please don’t buy these types of tickets anymore.  They are too difficult to score. Your odds of winning $20,000 are 1 in 600,000.  If you buy one of these tickets every week for 10 years, your chance of winning will be 1 in 8,000 and you’ll spend $15,600 for this chance. And by the way, you lose.”


Well. Clearly I did.

But, on the other hand……

I didn’t have to spend 45 minutes figuring this out now, did I?

He really does take all the fun out of gambling though.

Here is how the California Lottery doesn’t explain to you the probability of your winning their games: (in case you think my husband’s explanations are convoluted)

Odds and Available Prizes

Prizes Odds 1 in Total # of Winners
$20,000  600,000    46 15 31
$1,000     300,000    92 30 62
$500         60,000       460 192 268
$100         1,091 25,300 10,201 15,099
$50           632 43,700 17,501 26,199
$40           414 66,700 26,689 40,011
$30           333 82,800 33,598 49,202
$25           194 142,600 56,103 86,497
$20           125 220,800 85,671 135,129
$15           125 220,800 89,059 131,741
$10           125 220,800 85,861 134,939
$9              100 276,000 111,134 164,866
$8              56 496,800 190,363 306,437
$5              17 1,600,800 616,991 983,809
$4              14 2,042,400 777,826 1,264,574
Ticket       13 2,208,000 837,018 1,370,982

I must admit though, living all these years with a math whiz, has really improved my probabilistic abilities.

'According to our research 56% of the 34% of people responded to the 48% of questionnaires sent out thought the statistics were meaningless.'
‘According to our research 56% of the 34% of people responded to the 48% of questionnaires sent out thought the statistics were meaningless.’

Which gives me a great idea……..

Let’s form a pool!  If we all go in together and buy 500 tickets this will really improve our odds of winning!!!

Who’s in?

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58 thoughts on “I Married a Statistician: Pt. II ( OR a Question of BINGO!)

  1. I like it. I know and understand where your husband is coming from. I also agree with him. However once in awhile I would like to take some chances, just for fun 🙂

    Perhaps, asking him to follow how certain numbers to see which ones might have *better* chance to come up next than thinking from total chance to win.

  2. Well….SOMEBODY has to win, eventually! Probability alone should never be reason to risk and have faith. Bless his statistical heart. Don’t ever make him watch you try to play the “claw” game in an arcade, either.

    1. Actually, this is hilarious, he read all about the claw game. It’s a counting thing, the claw will work every x number of failed tries, and then has a series of wins to confuse counters! We actually sat and watched it in operation! So Funny!

  3. Only my husband would understand your husband. Fortunately I continue believing I have a chance to win! Wishing might make it true. A hilarious post and beautifully written! 🙂

    1. Dorann-
      You know the one thing that stumps the statisticians is, well if my odds of winning are essentially nil, how come someone often does win? So I’m with you. I think your odds are good!
      But then, again, you might consider my relative ummmmm expertise??? in this subject! 🙂

  4. I’m in cindy!!! My husband is an accountant and gives me the same statistics as your husband. LOL! I don’t care. I still play. My odds of winning are 0 if I never play, right? Great post. Jamie 🙂

  5. I’m still trying to figure this out:“Mathematically yes, Actuality, no.” Math and me, are not friends. I admire those who get it. Give me a novel to read instead.

  6. Yes, count me in. It is sort of like “The Gong Show.” If you don’t try how are you ever going to become famous; like the ‘unknown comic’?” As a matter of fact I have an automatic subscription to the NY lottery and have already won $8 and only spent $300.

    1. You see Wally we need more people like you! Hmmm I think the Gong show example is novel and my hubby may not even have an answer for this one. I’m totally stealing your example! Thanks! 🙂

      1. No, I’m quite behind on the blogs! China was actually a MONTH ago! Since then we’ve been to South Korea and we’ve spent the last three and a half weeks in Japan. Malaysia tomorrow – got some catching up to do eep!

        1. You know Bron, and this is amazing to say, you travel A LOT more than I!!! 🙂
          I’m confused about your itinerary, I thought you were in Russia taking the train and then in China….. But, none of this matters, I can’t wait for your next blog post to hear about your adventures. Very glad to know that all is well with you and your fiance & hope you both have a chance to rest up in Malaysia! I am positive your mother is worried about you as well as your cat! Can’t resist being a parental… 🙂
          Love hearing from you! Thanks for touching base. Be well & Cheers!

  7. if every lottery ticket buyer had a husband like yours… can you imagine?….. end of Lotto everywhere 😉 In the UK a lot of money collected from the lotto tickets sale, goes to good causes (the arts, sports, charities etc) so tell your husband you are doing your bit for charity and sport!

    1. You know Croatia, you have a devious mind.
      I LOVE IT! This is a statistically airtight argument. Plus it also happens to be true!
      Good thinking. I’m am getting so many excellent ripostes from blogging!! 🙂

  8. W.C. Fields often said there was a sucker born every minute.

    Grandpa liked to say that: The fool and his money are soon parted.

    To this day I have yet to buy a ticket. Perhaps that is why I don’t win? LOL

  9. Okay, so now the explanation of odds is finally clear to me–about as clear as mud, lol! This post is as funny as #1 was–you have such a winning sense of humor!

    1. Becky-
      Yes probability was the class where they passed out dice. My guy partner answered all the questions, and I studied cliff notes for my Beowolf exam next period. As Marie Antionette would say, let them do probability!!!! 🙂

  10. Married to a statistician?!?! You are So LUCKY! I am a statistician and I BUY LOTTERY TIX. For a couple days, I enjoy the fantasy that I might be rich. It is worth the $1 (or $2 if I want to double my chances – and yes, you DO double your chances – it is like spitting in the ocean twice) to be silly and pretend that I am carrying around a multi-million dollar ticket.

    1. Stiches-
      You are right mathematically.
      I noticed you do pharm research. Jim medical. Jim has his masters in math from Stanford and PhD in biostats from ucla. He’s published for decades and you probably know each other. All joking aside, he is a brilliant guy and I am very lucky.
      I fully support your purchasing of 2 lottery tickets however! After all someone often wins nest pah? Why shouldn’t it be you or me?
      The $150 million mega win would really get Jim’s attention! 🙂
      Love your blog. We were at the Cannonization in Rome in Oct of 2010. Amazing!
      Thanks for popping by!

  11. As you know I cannot do Bingo however, I was thinking, you might want to try sitting up in bed with the light on scratching bingo tickets one night.
    You may or may not win the money but, you will win one battle with your statistically savvy spouse!

    1. Sachem-
      oooooh! You have a devious mind too (so does Croatia a couple of comments back!)
      I am ALL OVER this idea!
      It is soooo good. My kids always want to know what I want for XMAS. Here is THE answer! BINGO cards! Lots & Lots of them! 🙂

  12. Petit-
    I will have to think of more posts to make you laugh in return for all the wonderful recipes you have given me! I don’t think my post did a lot to encourage people to buy lottery tickets though. You are wise to hold on to your cash!

  13. OMG did you marry the guy on the right. Wasn’t he in one of those nerd movies. Just kidding , but the guy on the right looks like a movie actor. Thanks for the likes on my blog.

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