The SOS Guide to breaking the lottery curse

The SOS Guide to breaking the lottery curse

by Property Soul

Last Friday, two lucky winners split the $13.6 million prize money from the Toto Hongbao draw.

If you were one of them, what would you do with the $6.8 million windfall?

For Singaporeans, we would probably pay off our loans first. Then go buy a nice house and a luxury car. Afterall, we are a car proud and property obsessed country.

If we ask people joining the long queue to buy TOTO or Big Sweep what they will do if they strike the jackpot, 9 out of 10 will say that they are going to buy a nice home or a big house. Try asking people outside Asia the same question and 9 out of 10 will say that they are going to take a long vacation to travel around the world.

– Property Soul, “Keeping the Singapore property dream alive

What would I do with $6.8 million? There is no debt to pay and nobody to show off to. And I really can’t think of anything that I really want to have but can’t afford to buy now.

But it would be stressful to suddenly have so much money. Because the thought of leaving the huge sum with the bank would make me feel guilty. I would end up spending days and nights researching what to invest now and how to donate to the right cause.

After that, hopefully I could get back my peace of mind – by doing the same things I used to do and living the same life I used to live.

Why winning the lottery is not a good thing

Does winning the lottery guarantee living happily ever after?

It has nothing to do with sour grapes. But contrary to common belief, lottery winners are not as lucky as what we imagine.

It is considered not too bad if they spend all their fortune in a short period of time and go back to square one. In reality, many end up worse than what they used to be.

Like wealth, luck is created by a process, not by an event.

Ken Fisher talked about the “lottery curse” in his book The Ten Roads to Riches.

“… this is a fate you shouldn’t hope for because of the well-known and documented lottery curse. Tragedy doesn’t promptly damn every huge lottery winner, but it does more often than not. And it will damn you, too.”

“For example, Jeffrey Dampier Jr … won an Illinois lottery – $ 20 million … showering his parents and nine siblings with gifts, trips, cars, and homes. He even treated his wife’s family. But it wasn’t enough for his wife’s sister, Victoria. She and her boyfriend kidnapped Jeffrey and shot him dead.”

“Jack Whittaker won a 2002 $315 million Powerball jackpot. Soon his wife left him (money can’t buy love either), his much-loved granddaughter died from a drug overdose, and his daughter was diagnosed with cancer … his car was burgled. Thieves almost got $600,000 … His money was hard to keep track of too. Whittaker repeatedly wrote bad checks — was even sued by an Atlantic City casino for check-kiting. In all, he estimates he’s been involved in over 460 court actions … That’s misery, not rich. It reminds me of the famous Mexican curse, “May your life be full of lawyers.”

The following SOS guide comes handy for any situation when you find that you are suddenly rich – be it from winning the jackpot, closing the en bloc sale, inheriting a huge sum, or selling your own business.

After you receive your jackpot, your priorities in the sequence of importance should be as follows:

#1. Ensure you and your loved ones’ safety;

#2. Enhance your ability to keep your fortune; and

#3. Embrace your happiness and well-being.

Priority #1: Ensure you and your loved ones’ safety

Early this month, a man won $158.4 million (S$1.63 million) from the Super Lotto in Jamaica.

He told the reporters about the stress. “From the day I found out that I won, I’ve been sick. My head hurt me for three days because I was thinking so much … I had a bellyache for two weeks. Sometimes I feel so much pain I forgot that I won.”

To protect his identity, he waited 54 days before coming to collect the prize, with a mask from the horror film “Scream”.


He was not the first one. Last year’s winner wore an Emoji mask to the cheque presentation ceremony. With high crime rate in Jamaica, lottery winners are under the threat of being kidnapped or blackmailed by friends, relatives or strangers.

A few years ago, a stranger tried to rob my father-in-law in broad daylight at a Johor Bahru petrol station. Luckily he managed to fight him off and was unharmed.

His friend told him later that his Singapore car license number was the same number as the first prize of 4D results earlier that week. But he doesn’t even buy lottery!

If you win the jackpot, resist the temptation to let anyone know. Okay, you can let slip if your spouse asks you. But don’t go beyond that – not even your children, parents, relatives, friends, colleagues or people you know or don’t know.

The sad truth is: Greed is real. People change when they see that you are suddenly rich. Unless you want everyone around you to treat you differently, but not in a genuine or sincere way. It may be a boost for your ego. But you are sacrificing your relationship and safety for it.

Priority #2: Enhance your ability to keep your fortune

An informal research tells us that those who bag $500,000 from Toto normally spend all in six months. Those who get $1 million usually have nothing left after a year. Statistics show that close to 70 percent of lottery winners spend or lose all their money in less than 5 years’ time.

Why? Because lottery prizes are often won by people who have never had so much cash before. They don’t have the experience to manage such a big amount of money.

The reason is, more money is not a solution to poor financial management. Poor money management is like gambling at a casino, because, over time, the house always wins. Tossing more money at the deficiency is like trying to plug a hole in a dam with more water. More money doesn’t buy financial discipline.

Lottery winners fall into the millionaire trap and go broke because they attempt to live a ‘millionaire’ lifestyle, not understanding that a few million doesn’t go very far.

– MJ DeMarco, The Millionaire Fastlane

A good way to preserve your windfall is to practise delayed gratification. Resist the temptation to do or buy anything new. This is the most difficult part because most winners will focus on how to spend the money “now”.

What they immediately do is often to buy a big house. But you can try to rent at least for the first two to three years. That gives you sufficient time to study the market, tell the differences between a good and a bad house, and find what is really suitable for you.

Besides, there is not much you can lose by renting a wrong place. But buying a wrong place is a different thing. It might wipe out your entire fortune.

The same applies to any asset you want to acquire, any investment or business you want to commit.

If you have never been an expert in properties, stocks, commodities, currencies or any other type of investment, resist the temptation to go into it.

When you have money to lose, you are going to lose big.

This is especially true when those so-called financial experts who try to convince you to hand over your money so that they can invest on behalf of you.

“One not so-fortuitous outcome is investment into complex financial products, introduced by bankers who target en bloc sellers.

Several banks have sent relationship managers (RM) to condos which are sold en bloc to woo the newly-rich.

“The dumbest investment was listening to my RM to punt in dual currency,” says the retiree. “She took me around the world; I did one on Aussie when it was 1.30 to one Singapore dollar, another on sterling.”

One Aussie dollar was worth less than one Singapore dollar, at the end of last year.

“All lost money. She then suggested investing the Aussie dollar into Aussie bonds, and I am still trying to recover,” she adds. “RMs are so smart, they see a big deposit into the account, they come calling.”

– “Life after en bloc”, The Business Times, 10 February 2019

Read as much as you can about personal finance and financial investment. Then test it out with something very small first. Only after you pay your “school fee” and learn your lessons should you start doing any real investment.

Priority #3: Embrace your happiness and well-being

Say you win a jackpot of $6.8 million. You can negotiate with the bank for a fixed deposit with two percent annual interest that gives you $136,000 a year or $11,333 a month. That should be enough for a comfortable daily living, while avoiding anyone’s suspicion of your wealth.

Ask yourself: How much do you really need for a comfortable living? What sort of lifestyle you really feel is comfortably acceptable to you?

True happiness and well-being comes only from living the lifestyle you are comfortable with, not what other people believe in.

Scotland’s youngest lottery millionaire Jane Park was just 17 when she won £1 million. She immediately spent lavishly on branded goods and went on plastic surgeries. Then she bought a big house to stay on her own.

But three weeks later, she moved back to stay with her mum.

“I was not prepared for the loneliness and isolation of being away from my family and friends.”

Next, the mother and daughter went for a luxury holiday in a beach resort in Spain.

“I find the more expensive hotels the food is too posh or the people are a bit snobby. I’ve got ordinary tastes. I like going on holiday and being around people like me.”

A year after being a millionaire, Jane finally understood the true value of money.

“Money can’t buy you love, can’t buy you friends, can’t buy you a family. But it does bring a certain degree of happiness. I can do things I have never done before, that I have never been able to experience.”

Wealth is not authorized by material possessions, money, or “stuff”, but by what I call the three fundamental “F’s”: family (relationships), fitness (health), and freedom (choice). Within this wealth trinity is where you will find true wealth and, yes, happiness.

Money buys the freedom to watch your kids grow up.
Money buys the freedom to pursue your craziest dreams.
Money buys the freedom to make a difference in the world.
Money buys the freedom to build and strengthen relationships.
Money buys the freedom to do what you love, with financial validation removed from the equation.

– MJ DeMarco, The Millionaire Fastlane

14 Secrets to Win Singapore 4D Revealed!

Secret #1
Probability of any direct 4D combination is 23 / 10, 000 or 1 / 434

Secret #2
The actual median for 4D is 288 draws, or 2 years. You will have a 50% strike rate when you buy 4D direct numbers within the last 2 years.

Secret #3
ABCD number make up of 24 different permutations. As such, the median is 288/24 = 12 draws (1 month).

Secret #4
AABC number make up of 12 different permutations. As such, the median is 288/12 = 24 draws (2 months).

Secret #5
AABC may have twice the payout of ABCD numbers, but ABCD have a higher frequency of striking.

Secret #6
4D may be random but there is always a pattern and trend behind it at a particular stage in time. In other words, it follows some loose mathematical law.

Secret #7
Each person learning curve, risk appetite and perception is different.
You will have to find your own comfort zone in putting $$$ down on a number.

Secret #8
Be happy. Be positive in your outlook and thinking. Avoid anything negative at all. Negative words, actions and even thinking will strongly affect your chance of striking 4D. If that happens, any super duper system isn‟t going to work.

Secret #9
A negative attitude and thinking will only breeds more its same kind (as in positive attitude and thinking too). It is a vicious cycle that isn‟t going to do no one any good at all. Don‟t get caught in it. When you are unhappy, angry, worried or even sick, don‟t gamble.

Secret #10
We need patience and perseverance when the going is not that smooth, the financial ability to weather through the inevitable bad-luck stretch occasionally before we can see hits happening.

Secret #11
Law of probability dictates that selecting numbers from a higher frequency is better than those in the lower percentile.

Secret #12
A win is a win. Whether it is a big win or small win, it is important to keep the winning streak alive. Maintain the flow and it will be a matter of time when the Big Win comes.

Secret #13
In any game of chances, there will be periods of „dry spells‟. It is that unavoidable cycle that every 4d punter loath. The only thing you can do is to scale down your bet during this period of time. There is nothing you can do about it; got to bite the bullet when it comes.

Secret #14
Have certain guidelines in place for your 4d investment strategy. Scale down your bet when the going is tough but when the hits start coming back, then it is business as usual.

What are the odds of winning Toto?



Recall (from the Combinations section) that the number of ways in which r objects can be selected from a set of n objects, where repetition is not allowed, is given by:


We can write (and type) the left hand side more conveniently as C(n,r).

Now let’s look at the probabilities for each prize.

Group 1 (Choose all 6)

The odds of winning the top Group 1 prize are 1\displaystyle{1}1 in C(49,6). That is:


=7.15×10−8\displaystyle={7.15}\times{10}^{ -{{8}}}=7.15×10−8

That is, there are 13,983,816\displaystyle{13},{983},{816}13,983,816 ways of choosing 6 numbers from 49 numbers but there is only one correct combination.

So there is 1 chance in 13,983,816 of getting the Group 1 prize.

This means we have to buy almost 14 million tickets (at a cost of $14 million) before we can confidently say we will probably win the top prize…

Group 2 (5 + additional)





=4.29×10−7\displaystyle={4.29}\times{10}^{ -{{7}}}=4.29×10−7

Explanation: We chose 5 of the 6 winning numbers [C(6,5)], and chose the correct “additional” number from the 43\displaystyle{43}43 remaining numbers that did not win anything [C(43,1)].

There is 1\displaystyle{1}1 chance in 43\displaystyle{43}43 that we chose the additional number, so multiply by 143\displaystyle\frac{1}{{43}}431.

So there is 1 chance in 2,330,636 of getting the Group 2 prize.

Group 3 (5 correct)





=1.80×10−5\displaystyle={1.80}\times{10}^{ -{{5}}}=1.80×10−5

We chose 5 of the 6 winning numbers and chose 1\displaystyle{1}1 number from the 43\displaystyle{43}43 remaining numbers that did not win. In the Group 3 prize, we cannot include the “additional” number, so we need to multiply by the probability of the remaining 43\displaystyle{43}43 numbers not containing the additional number, which is 1−143=4243\displaystyle{1}-\frac{1}{{43}}=\frac{42}{{43}}1431=4342.

So there is 1 chance in 55,491 of getting the Group 3 prize.

Group 4 (4 + additional)





=4.505×10−5\displaystyle={4.505}\times{10}^{ -{{5}}}=4.505×10−5

We chose 4 of the 6 winning numbers [C(6,4)], and chose 2\displaystyle{2}2 numbers from the 43\displaystyle{43}43 remaining numbers that did not win anything [C(43,2)]. But we chose 6 numbers originally, so there are 2\displaystyle{2}2 chances in 43\displaystyle{43}43 that we chose the additional number, so multiply by 243\displaystyle\frac{2}{{43}}432.

So there is 1 chance in 22,197 of getting the Group 4 prize.

Group 5 (4 correct)





=9.236×10−4\displaystyle={9.236}\times{10}^{ -{{4}}}=9.236×10−4

We chose 4\displaystyle{4}4 of the 6\displaystyle{6}6 winning numbers and chose 2\displaystyle{2}2 numbers from the 43\displaystyle{43}43 remaining numbers that did not win. Once again, we need to consider the probability of the additional number not being one of our 2\displaystyle{2}2 remaining (non-winning) numbers. This probability is 1−243=4143\displaystyle{1}-\frac{2}{{43}}=\frac{41}{{43}}1432=4341. So we multiply by 4143\displaystyle\frac{41}{{43}}4341.

So there is 1 chance in 1,083 of getting the Group 5 prize.

Group 6 (3 + additional)





=1.23142×10−3\displaystyle={1.23142}\times{10}^{ -{{3}}}=1.23142×10−3

We chose 3\displaystyle{3}3 of the 6\displaystyle{6}6 winning numbers [C(6,3)], and choose 3\displaystyle{3}3 numbers from the 43\displaystyle{43}43 remaining numbers that did not win anything [C(43,3)]. But we chose 6\displaystyle{6}6 numbers originally so there are 3\displaystyle{3}3 chances in 43\displaystyle{43}43 that we chose the additional number, so multiply by 343\displaystyle\frac{3}{{43}}433.

So there is 1 chance in 812 of getting the Group 6 prize.

Group 7 (3 correct)





=1.642×10−2\displaystyle={1.642}\times{10}^{ -{{2}}}=1.642×10−2

We chose 3\displaystyle{3}3 of the 6\displaystyle{6}6 winning numbers and chose 3\displaystyle{3}3 numbers from the 43\displaystyle{43}43 remaining numbers that did not win. Again, we need to consider the probability of the additional number not being one of our 3\displaystyle{3}3 remaining (non-winning) numbers. This probability is 1−343=4043\displaystyle{1}-\frac{3}{{43}}=\frac{40}{{43}}1433=4340. So we multiply by 4043\displaystyle\frac{40}{{43}}4340.

So there is 1 chance in 61 of getting the Group 7 prize.

System Entries

In most Lotto and Toto games, you can buy a “System”. Your chances of winning increase, but of course, you pay more as well. For example:

System 7 means you choose 7 numbers (instead of the usual 6). This gives you 7 times the chance of winning (so it costs 7 times as much), since it is equivalent to buying 7 different 6-number games, or C(7,6). Say you chose 1, 3, 5, 7, 9, 11, 13 as your 7 numbers. You have the following 7 ways of winning if the 6 winning numbers happened to be:

1 3 5 7 9 11
3 5 7 9 11 13
1 5 7 9 11 13
1 3 7 9 11 13
1 3 5 9 11 13
1 3 5 7 11 13
1 3 5 7 9 13

System 8 means you choose 8 numbers and it gives you the equivalent of 28 ordinary bet combinations, so costs 28 times as much, or C(8,6)\displaystyle{C}{\left({8},{6}\right)}C(8,6).

Similarly, System 9 gives you C(9,6)=84\displaystyle{C}{\left({9},{6}\right)}={84}C(9,6)=84 ordinary bet combinations, System 10 gives C(10,6)=210\displaystyle{C}{\left({10},{6}\right)}={210}C(10,6)=210 ordinary combinations, System 11 gives C(11,6)=462\displaystyle{C}{\left({11},{6}\right)}={462}C(11,6)=462 combinations and System 12 (the maximum in the Singapore game) gives C(12,6)=924\displaystyle{C}{\left({12},{6}\right)}={924}C(12,6)=924 combinations.

The probability of winning with a System 12 is 924\displaystyle{924}924 times the probability of winning when you buy 1 game, that is:

92413,983,816\displaystyle\frac{924}{{{13},{983},{816}}}13,983,816924 or 1\displaystyle{1}1 in 15,134\displaystyle{15},{134}15,134.

In the Singapore game of TOTO, 6 numbers plus one “additional” number are drawn at random from the numbers 1 to 49. In the Ordinary game, players spend $1 and they choose 6 numbers in the hope of becoming instant millionaires.

A prize pool is established at 54% of sales for a draw. Typically, $2.8 million dollars is “invested” in each game – and games are offered twice per week. This is quite a lot for a country of 5.5 million people…

Plenty of other countries have similar Toto games, usually called Lotto. The more numbers in a game, the worse your chances become.

Summary of the Prizes (Singapore Toto)


Prize Amount

Winning Numbers Matched


38% of prize pool (min $1 M)

6 numbers


8% of prize pool

5 numbers + additional number


5.5% of prize pool

5 numbers


3% of prize pool

4 numbers + additional number


$50 per winning combination

4 numbers


$25 per winning combination

3 numbers + additional number


$10 per winning combination

3 numbers