What Are The Odds?

by Darwin on February 9, 2010

This guest post comes from Michael, a contributing editor of the Dough Roller,a personal finance and investing blog, and Credit Card Offers IQ, a credit card review site.

Odds Pic

I’m the type of guy that is always looking up to the sky after having something bad happen and wonder, “What are the chances that this happened to me?”  I’m sure at one time or another in everyone’s life, they think that crazy things that rarely happen only happen to them because they’re the unluckiest people in the world.  Determining just how lucky or unlucky you are is pretty easy and don’t you want to know your chances of living to 100, becoming a billionaire, or death by coconut?  I know I do.

With a few mathematical calculations and some research, I present to you some of the more interesting things that can happen and the odds that it happens to you.  First the good stuff, and then the bad.

Becoming a Billionaire / 1 in 1,000,000 – Being a billionaire has little to do with luck and more to do with skill but in the United States the odds are certainly better than you might have thought.  If you expand this idea to include the world populations, your odds become a much worse 1 in 7,000,000.

Getting a Royal Flush on 5 Cards / 1 in 649,739 – The next time you visit Las Vegas and dream of hitting the 10,000 to 1 odds of being dealt a Royal Flush in Caribbean Stud Poker, know that the casino is ripping you off.  Set your aspirations a bit lower and hope you can hit the 1 in 4,164 Four of a Kind or 1 in 254 Straight.

Living to the Age of 100 / 1 in 50 – Ask this question 50 years ago and your odds would have been in the thousands but in today’s world you have a 2% chance of hitting the century mark.  With all of the progressions in modern medicine, it won’t be long before living to 100 years old is fairly common.

Finding a Four-Leaf Clover / 1 in 10,000 – My grandmother use to offer me $1 for going out to her clover patch and picking out the four-leaf variety.  As a kid, I use to spend (waste) hours a day looking for clover gold and all I came away with was a measly $2.  To be honest, her vision wasn’t so great and it should have been $1 but I regret nothing.

Shucking a Pearl From an Oyster / 1 in 12,000 – This outcome assumes that you know how to shuck an oyster and I haven’t the slightest idea how to open oysters up.  Even if you are lucky enough to uncover a pearl, it’s even more rare that the pearl you find is worth much so if you’re planning to get rich with a few scuba lessons, think again.

Being in a Plane Crash / 1 in 500,000 – The actual odds of a plane crashing are much greater than this but because there are usually a few hundred people on board, your individual odds are less favorable.  Certain factors like the capability of the plane and pilot generally determine the outcome and every year, these odds become less and less likely.

Having a Poisonous Snake Bite You / 1 in 36,000,000 – There are only around 20 species of poisonous snakes in the United States and a snake is actually a very timid creature.  Snakes generally don’t get together on a Saturday night, looking for humans to bite so if you’re nice to them, they’re nice to you.

Receiving a Dreaded Audit From the IRS / 1 in 100 – You only have yourself to blame if you’re one of the unlucky citizens to be audited by the IRS.  The government audits those that show potential for claiming missing taxes so the more money you make, the great the chance you have of being audited.  Save yourself the biggest headache you’ll ever have and be honest on your 2010 tax return.

Being a Victim of a Shark Attack / 1 in 10,000,000 – In one of the rare occasions where being a US citizen doesn’t help, shark attacks are reported everyday however only a handful a year actually prove to be realistic.  You wouldn’t believe how many people went swimming in their local fresh water pond or lake, only to have nearly died from a Great White shark!

Dying From a Fallen Coconut / 1 in 250,000,000 – I live in Miami and there’s not a day that goes by when I wonder if today is the day those 10lb coconuts will end my life.  When a coconut falls from a tree, it travels around 50 MPH at impact.  The next time you vacation to the tropics, keep your head up.

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

1 20smoney February 10, 2010 at 9:10 am

We actually had a death by shark attack here in Florida last week I believe… Kite surfer got attacked… pretty ugly.


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