# A Maserati for £1

After Dave and Angela Dawes won £101 million on the Euromillions lottery, Radio 5 Live asked me to comment on the different ways one could win a decent amount of money for £1. I chose £100,000, which will buy you a shiny new Maserati ( a Ferrari would be about double that). The recording of my interview is here, and here are the details of my calculations, which I hope are roughly correct.

**National Lottery**

There are 49 balls and if your choice of 6 numbers matches 5 winning balls plus the bonus number (a 7th ball drawn) then this generally wins around £100,000 and has a probability **1 in 2,330,636**.

**‘Health’ Lottery**

The new ‘Health Lottery’ has a poor payout to the punters of around 33p in the pound, but 5 numbers out of 50 would win ‘up to £100,000’ with probability **1 in 2,118,760**.

**Premium bonds**

There are around 41,000,000,000 Premium bonds, and currently each month 4 win £100,000 and 1 wins £1,000,000. So with a £1 Bond there is around 1 in 8,000,000,000 of winning at least £100,000.

However you keep your £1 stake, and so a fairer comparison is to assume that you find a friend to lend you £500 for a month for £1 – this is 2.4% annual interest which is not too bad at the moment. With 500 bonds held for a month the odds of wining at least £100,000 are **1 in 16,000,000**, around 8 times worse than the lotteries.

**Horse-racing accumulator**

Suppose you examine a race meeting with 6 races, and in each race choose a horse at medium odds of around 6 to 1 against. Then an accumulator, in which the winnings of each race are passed to the next horse, will pay out, will give you $7 \times 7 \times 7 \times 7 \times 7 \times 7$ = £117,000 if they all win. Given a bookmakers margin of, say, 15% each bet, the true odds may be around **1 in 230,000**.

**Roulette**

If you can find a casino to let you bet £1, place it on your lucky number between 1 and 36. When it wins, either leave the £36 there or move it to another number. When that comes up too, move the £1296 you now have to another number, or leave it where it is – it doesn’t make any difference to the odds, but somehow it seems that the chance increases when the money is moved.

When that comes up you will have £46.656, so move it all to Red, and when that comes up you will have £93,312, almost enough for your Maserati.

The chances of this happening, on a European roulette wheel with 1 zero, are

$ 1/37 \times 1/37 \times 1/37 \times 18/37 $= **1 in 104,120**.

**Conclusion**

Roulette is your best bet – about twice as good as horse-racing, about 20 times as good as lotteries, and about 160 times as good as premium bonds.

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## Comments

Philip Potter (not verified)

Mon, 17/10/2011 - 2:49pm

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## Nice analysis. I can't help

david

Tue, 25/10/2011 - 1:58pm

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## agreed

yes, I was doing an 'all or nothing' analysis. But in fact the additional chance from re-investing one's lottery winnings is fairly feeble, given that there is only a 1 in 52 chance of winning £10.

Ewan Leeming (not verified)

Mon, 17/10/2011 - 5:10pm

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## Acceptability

Dave Marsay (not verified)

Fri, 21/10/2011 - 4:41pm

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## A personal comment on Dave S.

Stavros Christofides (not verified)

Sun, 23/10/2011 - 2:46pm

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## Comparing returns using a risk aversion index

Tom (not verified)

Sat, 29/10/2011 - 12:09pm

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## Horseracing acca

Jon (not verified)

Fri, 13/01/2012 - 3:01pm

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## Another one for the "coincidences" section...?