Posted:

**Feb 11, 2019 6:18 pm**romansh wrote:I am reminded of discussions with my father in law. His system was to watch a roulette wheel for a long time and then bet on the number that has not come up and then bet on that number. Keep telling him telling him … if he is going to bet on that sort of foolishness, he may as well bet against that number. The wheel might not be true.

Warning: anecdote alert

When I was a kid in the 70s, when I'd learned how to calculate mean and SD but knew nothing else about statistics and probability, I won £6.23 on the Littlewoods Football Pools using a system similar to this.

My parents used to play with a small stake (2 lines of 8 from 10, I think, which cost about 50p) every week, and I got interested in the form book. Having no interest in football, I calculated the mean number of times and its standard deviation that each number came up as a score draw, and found that the means were all nearly the same, and the SD was very small.

I reckoned that if all the numbers came up nearly the same number of times, if I just picked numbers that hadn't come up, I'd get more and more likely to win. So I persuaded my dad to let me pick the numbers for a season.

Amazingly, I plotted the graph of my score each week, and it did increase fairly steadily, until we won a small payout, which was only a little bit less than the total outlay that season. Given that my dad had never won anything on the pools, he was entertained enough by my success to let me keep the £6.23.

I never did find out what it was about the way the matches were allocated to numbers each week, but it did seem strangely non-random at the time. Once there was a mix of numbers that had come up 0, 1, or 2 times, I found it harder to pick them, and I got bored and stopped, so never became a big winner.

Sorry, I was briefly possessed by the Nostalgia Demon there. As you were.