So what are my chances of win­ning the Mark Six?

– Six of the Best

HK Magazine - - HOME - Dear Mr. Know-It-All,

Not good.

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…

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