There are now just six face down cards remaining. One of those six cards is the jackpot-winning Joker. Another card is an Ace that wins $800.
Last week there was a rather notable jump in Joker Draw ticket sales. From Week 43 through Week 46, the bar’s weekly ticket sales only very slowly increased from 1,276 to 1,406 tickets. But last week, with a $12,000 jackpot and just seven cards remaining, the bar sold 1,680 tickets, almost a 20% increase over the prior week.
I suspect that the Walkabout will sell about 2,050 tickets this week. That may seem like a lot, but by historical standards, it is not. On December 11, 2009, the Joker Draw reached Week 48, with just six cards remaining, and a $13,000 jackpot. The bar sold 4,000 tickets that week, and the jackpot increased to $15,000 the following week.
What can we learn by comparing the jackpots and ticket sales from 2009 to 2012? The 2009 Week 48 jackpot was $13,000, and the 2012 Week 48 jackpot is $12,840. That shows remarkable consistency – the similarity in Week 48 jackpots means the Walkabout has sold almost the same total number of tickets through the first 47 weeks of this run of the game as it did back in 2009.
But if the total ticket sales through 47 weeks are so similar to 2009, then why is the Walkabout only going to sell a little about 2,050 tickets this week, when it sold 4,000 tickets during Week 48 in 2009? Here’s my best explanation for that. Back in 2009, the bar probably sold very few tickets during the early weeks of the game, but then it sold very large numbers of tickets during the later weeks. The 2009 players were quite saavy. They eschewed buying tickets during the early weeks when the odds were poor and the jackpots were low, then they poured their money into tickets during the later weeks as the odds and jackpots improved.
In 2011-2012, the ticket sales have been steadier and distributed more evenly throughout the 47 weeks. The 2011-12 players have robotically bought tickets each week, without as much regard for the odds or the jackpot amounts. This evidence would suggest that more casual players are playing the Joker Draw in 2012, or that Walkabout patrons are simply getting dumber.
Let’s turn to this week’s odds. With an estimated 2,050 tickets in the drum and just six face down cards remaining on the board, your odds of winning the jackpot with a single $1 ticket will be 1 in 12,300. Spending a dollar to buy a 1 in 12,300 chance to win $12,840 is a very good wagering opportunity. That’s a 4% edge to the player.
When you add in the opportunity to win $800 by turning over an Ace, the advantage to the player increases to 11%. Every $1 ticket purchased Friday night will have a value of $1.11 as soon as it is placed in the drum. (12,840/12,300 + 800/12,300 = 1.109).
If an impoverished hooker or English teacher is lucky enough to have his or her ticket number called, then the value of that ticket will temporarily increase to $2,273, as it will give the ticket holder a 1 in 6 chance at $12,840 and a 1 in 6 chance at $800. But the gambling fates can be quite cruel, and there’s still a 2 out of 3 chance that the lucky ticket holder will turn over a worthless card and walk away with nothing at all.