Denver Bar Association
December 2012
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A Winning Hand

by David Erickson





admit it, I occasionally buy lottery tickets. Not often and never in great amounts. Here is the way I analyze it: The published odds of winning the Colorado Lotto jackpot—that is, correctly matching all six of the 42 possible numbers—are one in 5,245,786. Looking at it another way, if I were to buy one ticket every day, 365 days a year, then I might win after 14,372 years. These odds are certainly not promising.

If I were to buy 10 tickets a day, however, I might win after 1,437 years. Going further, if I were to buy 100 tickets a day, I might win after 143 years. Finally, if I were to buy 1,000 tickets a day, I might win after 14 years. These numbers are just rounded off, but you get the picture.

Looking at this situation another way: Each time I buy a ticket the odds are 5,245,786 to one. Thus, every time I buy a ticket the odds are always the same. They never get any better. But if I were to buy two tickets instead of one, then the odds should double; that is, they would be twice as good or 2,622,893 to one. Further, if I were to buy 10 tickets instead of one, then the odds become 524,578 to one. Finally, if I were to buy 100 tickets instead of one, then the odds become 52,457 to one. Now, this is more reasonable. This gives a guy a real fighting chance at the big prize.

I know that luck plays into this, but fate is also involved. Some things are destined to be. But you have to recognize it when it is handed to you, in plain sight, right before your eyes. You then have to seize the moment, be bold, be positive, forge ahead, never look back, grab the brass ring, and go for the gold. After all, that’s what life is all about isn’t it?

A couple of years ago I went to the supermarket to get cash from the ATM machine. I slid my debit card in the slot, punched in the required codes and out came 10 $20 bills, which I promptly placed in my wallet. On leaving the store, I passed the service counter where they sell miscellaneous items including lottery tickets. I paused, approached the counter, and asked for one $1 Colorado Lotto ticket. I then pulled a $20 bill from my wallet and noticed that it had written across the face, in large bold red letters: "1660." This was the street address of my longtime office. What chance, what luck, what fate! A sign had been sent. The time was right. This was it. It was my turn to cash in on life. I immediately changed my request to 20 tickets.

What came of it? Nothing! No way, no how, nada, a great big zero! Not one penny. But how could this happen? All the elements were right. The stars and planets were aligned. I must have missed something. Something obvious, something plain must have been overlooked. After reflection, I think I now know the answer. You see, I was holding the bill upside down and rather than reading "1660" like I thought, it really read "0991."

It’s now obvious. It’s clear. My time will come again. I can feel it.

Next time, though, I’ll be sure to check the bill both ways. D

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