So what are my chances of winning the Mark Six?
– Six of the Best
The Mark Six celebrates its 40th anniversary this year. It was originally introduced in 1976, created in order to target the illegal tse fa lottery (字花, literally “word-flower,” in which players had to pick characters instead of numbers). Tse fa had been running for close to a century and was wildly popular— but then the government realized that it could be getting in on the action. And so the Mark Six was born. It was a good idea: Since its inception the Mark Six has raised an almighty $37 billion for the government.
But as no one needs to tell you, the government winning big isn’t the same as Hongkongers cleaning up. The city’s biggest-ever jackpot may have just been split between two tickets, each worth a cool $84.7 million—but the chances of you specifically winning are fantastically low.
With 49 potential numbers, the chance of correctly picking all six numbers in a single ticket is 1 in 13,983,816. That’s 1 chance in almost 14 million. In fact, you are fully 80 times more likely to be killed by lightning than you are to win the Mark Six jackpot.
Take into account the lower-ranked prizes, from the 2nd to 7th place with its lowly $40 payout, and your chances of winning rise to about 1 in 54. Those are pretty low odds on a global scale: The US Powerball lottery, for instance, delivers a 1 in 35 chance of winning; while the UK’s National Lottery offers a tempting-sounding 1 in 9.3 chance.
The Jockey Club keeps statistics on its website, which include rankings of “lucky” shops and the frequency of numbers appearing. The betting shop on Stanley Street attracted huge queues this week thanks to its reputation as the city’s “luckiest” shop—42 past winners have bought their tickets there. Second-luckiest is the branch in Tuen Mun Town Plaza, with 36 wins.
Meanwhile, 10 is the number that’s most frequently called in the Mark Six, having been drawn 336 times since July 4, 2002. The least common? Number 19, drawn just 250 times. As for the auspicious number 8—a relatively rare 276 times.
Of course, with a random machine drawing the numbers, this frequency doesn’t mean anything at all—it’ll all even out eventually. But here’s some potentially useful advice for you. If you want to be selfish, stay away from number 8. Not because it seems to show up infrequently, no—but because it’s popular with many Mark Six players. Which means that if somehow you beat the odds and your numbers win—well, there’s a good chance you’ll be sharing your winnings with a lot of other lucky people. Do you really want to see your millions get shared around? Didn’t think so.
It could be your time…