Happy St. Patrick’s Day: Some odds

Allen Wastler

By Allen Wastler
Allen Wastler is a former financial journalist with over 30-years of experience, including time at CNBC, CNN, and Knight-Ridder Newspapers.
Posted on Mar 17, 2019

Are you thinking about luck on this St. Patrick’s Day?

What are the odds of finding a four-leaf clover?

How about being the sole winner of the lottery?

Are slot machines a better bet?

  • In the analog days when slot machines were, well, machines, the odds were based on the number of spinning “reels” times the number of symbols on each reel. So a slot machine with five reels and five symbols on each of those reels is offering odds of 1 in 3,125. Of course, the slot machine’s shift into the digital realm has drastically stretched those odds, as virtual reels can have memory for many more symbols. So, as the website How Stuff Works points out, while casinos are required by law to pay back a certain percentage of slot money to players overall, the odds of hitting the top jackpot prize on a typical machine can be 1 in 262,144 or more.

How about making a hole-in-one in golf?

  • That’s 1 in 12,000 for the average golfer, according to research done for Golf Digest. (The magazine compared that to bowling a perfect game of 300, which they put at 1 in 11,500 for the average bowler).4

Bad stuff happens too.

The odds of a tax audit?

  • One in 143, according to USA Today, which polled mathematicians and tax experts.5

The odds you’ll be struck by lightning in your lifetime?

The chance that a 20-year-old will be too sick or injured to work sometime during their career?

Okay, we don’t want to be a downer on a festive day. So we’ll leave you with this…

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

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1 “Woman Finds 21 Four-Leaf Clovers,” Daily Telegraph, Aug. 11, 2014.

2 “A Statistician’s View: What are Your chances of Winning the Powerball Lottery,” Huffington Post, Jan. 7, 2016.

3 “Odds of Winning Get Longer,” Cleveland Plain Dealer, May 15, 2011.

4 “The Unlikely Ace/300 Game,” Golf Digest, Oct. 6, 2014.

5 USA Today, “Your odds of facing an IRS audit are 1-in143,” March 6, 2017.

6 Social Security Administration, Fact Sheet, 2019.

The information provided is not written or intended as specific tax or legal advice. MassMutual, its employees and representatives are not authorized to give tax or legal advice. You are encouraged to seek advice from your own tax or legal counsel. Opinions expressed by those interviewed are their own, and do not necessarily represent the views of Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company.