Statistician debunks myths ahead of Toto Hongbao Draw
Queues have been snaking all over the island as hopeful punters try their luck to win the largest-ever top prize of $13.9 million in Singapore Pools' annual Toto Hongbao Draw on Friday
NUMBERS HAVE NO MEMORY
There are 15 numbers - 1, 12, 15, 18, 25, 27, 28, 30, 31, 33, 36, 38, 44, 45 and 47 - that have not been drawn in the last seven draws according to the Singapore Pools website. Are my odds of winning better if I were to choose these numbers?
Associate Professor Chua Tin Chiu, a statistician from the National University of Singapore, said: "Every draw is independent and a fresh start. Past draws cannot determine what numbers will come out next.
"It's like flipping a coin. Assuming it's a fair coin, previous results of heads and tails will not determine the next outcome."
He added that the Toto draw gives equal chance to all numbers and combinations, so there is no pattern, favourite number or combination.
He said: "The numbers have no memory. It's not like numbers say, 'I haven't come out in a while, maybe I'll go out today', so you can't choose numbers this way."
NO SUCH THING AS A 'LUCKY OUTLET'
There is a Toto outlet in Hougang that has sold 11 Group 1 and Group 2 winning tickets since October 2014. Should I get my tickets there?
Prof Chua said there is no such thing as a "lucky Toto outlet". Rather, an outlet appears to be lucky because there are more people buying tickets there. "Assuming that more people go to that outlet and buy the QuickPick option, there will be more combinations generated and sold, hence increasing the chances that one of the combinations will be the winning one," he said.
The QuickPick option is when the computer system allocates a randomly generated set of numbers, as opposed to punters choosing their own.
NO STRATEGY IN WINNING
How do you increase the chances of winning?
The odds of winning for each number combination are the same, so if you believe that the selection is random, there is no strategy in picking the winning combination, said Prof Chua.
Although you can buy more combinations to increase the chances of getting a winner, you are also paying more with a slim chance of returns.
Prof Chua, who buys Toto "occasionally", said he always chooses the QuickPick option as experience tells him that there are no "lucky numbers".
"Essentially, the only way to ensure you win is to buy all possible 14 million combinations," he said.
"If I knew a strategy that would really let me win, I would be a professional gambler and not a professor.
"It's like buying a piece of hope - just don't get addicted to it."
Buying Toto is for its entertainment value, and if you get lucky, you win money. Although chances of winning are slim, people just want to buy a piece of hope.
- Associate Professor Chua Tin Chiu, a statistician from the National University of Singapore.
ODDS ON WINNING TOTO
The odds of winning the Toto jackpot if you choose numbers that match the winning six.
Gives you one ordinary entry, where you select six numbers between 1 and 49.
ODDS: 1 in 14 million
You select seven numbers between 1 and 49, which is equivalent to seven ordinary entries.
ODDS: 1 in 2 million
You select 10 numbers between 1 and 49, which is equivalent to 210 ordinary entries.
ODDS: 1 in 67,600
You select 12 numbers between 1 and 49, which is equivalent to 924 ordinary entries.
ODDS: 1 in 15,000
* Tickets and numbers are random and for illustrative purposes only.
Strike Toto? You're more likely to...
The odds of winning the Toto jackpot are heavily stacked against you. These things are more likely to happen to you than striking Toto with a $1 ordinary bet (a 1 in 14 million chance):
DIE FROM A BEE STING:
1 in 6 million
DIE FROM A SHARK ATTACK:
1 in 3.7 million
GET STRUCK BY LIGHTNING:
1 in 775,000
GIVE BIRTH TO QUADRUPLETS:
1 in 729,000
GET KILLED BY AN ASTEROID:
1 in 700,000
BE IN A PLANE CRASH:
1 in 500,000
SOURCES: NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC, CNNMONEY, DISCOVER MAGAZINE, NATIONAL COUNCIL ON PROBLEM GAMBLING