So what happens when a compulsive mind like mine decides to participate in legalized gambling? Well, I'm not analyzing percentages or anything like that, but I did quickly arrive at some conclusions regarding how best to
Then I looked at the the games themselves. I determined that the $1 tickets just aren't worth it, because the prizes are too small. Conversely, while the $5 tickets have much bigger prizes, when I did buy them I never won anything, and for the same amount of money, you don't get as many chances to win: if I buy five $2 tickets, I'm getting a total of ten chances (two per ticket), but if I buy two $5 tickets, there are only eight chances (four per ticket).
So for me the happy medium seems to be the $2 tickets. In a typical week I'll win a couple of bucks, just enough to make me feel like it's worth it and keep me coming back. On a couple of occasions I won $50, and once a few months ago $100. When that happens, I either take the Mrs. out for a nice dinner, or put it into the "fund" (also known as a savings account) I maintain for big-ticket purchases. At the moment, the fund has about 50% of the cost of the plasma TV I'm going to buy soon, which will make paying for it a good bit easier.
When I win a small amount, I practice a "reinvestment strategy" of sorts: when I go back the following week, I use the winnings to buy additional tickets beyond my weekly allotment. So this week I had $6 from last week's tickets, so I got a total of eight tickets, but still spent only $10. This makes me feel like I have more chances to win something.
Massachusetts participates in one of those multi-state jackpot games called Mega Millions, which is drawn twice a week. When the jackpot gets large, say over $100 million, I find it pretty hard to resist, so I amended my lottery rules to allow me to spend another $10 per week on Mega Millions. I don't play a specific set of numbers; rather, I embrace the randomness of the world and play "quick picks," which means I let the lottery machine randomly choose the numbers for me. (Actually, I decided that filling in the tiny circles on those cards every time would make me feel just a little too desperate.)
To my complete lack of surprise, my winnings from the jackpot game have been next to nothing. Occasionally I have a couple of the numbers, but without the "mega ball" the prizes are negligible. Last week I had the mega ball twice, but no other numbers, which got me $2 for each mega ball. Since the jackpot was still growing, I put the $4 toward the next set of quick picks. I'll probably never win anything substantial, but I tell myself I have just as much chance as anyone. I fantasize about world travel, vacation homes, helping my family, becoming a philanthropist, and not having to work ever again. Especially that last one.