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N.Y. man spends thousands in search of lottery riches

New York LotteryNew York Lottery: N.Y. man spends thousands in search of lottery riches

At first, there was the absolute indignity of it all, since, by any form of justice, it was he who should have finally hit the big one — he and not that dilettante, the by-now famous doorman who worked across the street.

He — Ray Otero, superintendent, ordinary luckless guy — should have the cash, the car, the sexy Swedish girlfriend. The numbers alone demanded it: Last year, he spent $30,000 on the lottery. The winner, Richie Randazzo, spent a measly thirty bucks or so a week.

"When I heard he won, I got so mad — I said to myself, 'I can't believe it,' " Mr. Otero said the other day, recalling how the television crews descended on his friend in a free-for-allish media display. "I spend all that money and the" — unprintable fellow — "wins? It's wrong. I mean, I'm happy for him. But it really isn't fair."

It is a nagging fact of life that the lottery gods have a slender grasp on fairness and a sense of irony so developed it would even make the Devil crack a grin. After watching someone else take home the jackpot — someone from the neighborhood, no less — Mr. Otero spent his summer struggling with the victory of a colleague and the providential mystery of when his own hot streak would finally begin.

His troubles began in May when Mr. Randazzo, a doorman at 1021 Park Avenue, watched his ship come in, in the guise of a $5 million prize in a daily scratch-off game called Set for Life. The tabloids wrote of his ascent with a schadenfreudic fervor: How "the rags-to-riches doorman" tried to keep his job, but was fired for being lazy; how he started dating a leggy Swedish model who was later charged with promoting prostitution at Big Daddy Lou's Hot Lap Dance Club on the side.

Winning is, of course, the essence of the lottery, though it might be said that losing is its natural state. And Mr. Otero is certainly a natural — at losing. For the last three years, he has utterly failed to recoup a rather staggering investment: $500 to $700 on the lottery a week.

"The guy is crazy," said Carlos, a doorman at Mr. Otero's building, at 106 East 85th Street. "He's got tons of worthless tickets."

Carlos, who declined to give his last name, showed how many by placing space between his fingers. It looked to be a pastrami-sandwich high.

Such a habit goes well beyond "social gambling," said Jim Maney, executive director for the New York Council on Problem Gambling. John Charlson, a spokesman for the New York State Lottery, declined to discuss the specifics of Mr. Otero's situation, but said that independent studies showed that the average New York lottery player spent about $350 a year and that other surveys showed that 75 percent of all New Yorkers have, at one time or another, put down money on the games.

Mr. Otero, 52, came to New York City from Puerto Rico nearly 30 years ago and worked as a mechanic in the Bronx. He has held his current job for about 10 years and supports his wife and two children on a yearly take-home pay of $40,000, he says, which does not include the free apartment, odd jobs or the typical Christmas tips.

But working is for poor uneducated men — a sucker's game, he said, where one must run increasingly fast to keep one's place in line. "You're making money on the one side and spending it on the other," he said. "If all you're doing is working, you're never going to win."

So, for the last three years, Mr. Otero has been searching for an entry to the easy life — to win the lottery and move back home to Puerto Rico; to put his feet up with his family by his side.

He plays the game in shifts: one bet in the morning at 11 o'clock, another in the middle afternoon. His bets will range from $10 to $20 on a scratch-off game or on the daily numbers. He picks his digits, he explained, from the license plates of parked or passing cars.

"Papi, how you doing today?" he said to Mohammad Hassan, owner of the Lexington Avenue News Shop.

"So O.K.," he went on, "give me 52-20 in a 4-and-1, all right?" That meant four $2 bets played "straight," or precisely in the order that the numbers had been stated, and one $2 "box" bet, covering himself if the digits showed up differently arranged.

Mr. Hassan received his money frowning; he handed the tickets back.

"What can I do?" he shrugged. "I have to take his numbers, but he never gets them right." (In fact, he almost got it right. The winning pick that afternoon was 5-4-2-0.)

In three years, Mr. Otero has won only three times: He earned $1,000 on a scratch-and-win last year and pulled in more than $2,000 on the Pick Five twice.

But all of it was reinvested, as one must be assiduous to win.

"No matter how much I get," he said, "I always spend it back."

As for Mr. Randazzo, he doesn't really come around these days, although about a week ago he called. "He didn't give me no money," Mr. Otero said, "but I guess he's still my friend."

There are other things to think about, of course, like an item in the paper that he saw some weeks ago. It seems a woman had been walking in the Bronx and came across a twenty on the sidewalk. She spent it on the lottery. And won.

Mr. Otero is haunted by the story.

"Her first time playing," he exclaimed, "and she won what? $250,000. I said, 'It can't be, no, I don't believe it — on her very first time?' "

Then he paused and looked down at the sidewalk, at the concrete cracks where the mysteries reside.

"That's luck," he said.

"It's destiny," he added with a smile.

New York Times

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23 comments. Last comment 8 years ago by robmang.
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United States
Member #1826
July 11, 2003
2645 Posts
Offline
Posted: August 22, 2008, 10:05 pm - IP Logged

And here it is, what every lottery critic (and they come a dime a dozen) will compare all of us to.

(insert signature here)

    Todd's avatar - Cylon 2.gif
    Chief Bottle Washer
    New Jersey
    United States
    Member #1
    May 31, 2000
    23277 Posts
    Offline
    Posted: August 22, 2008, 10:59 pm - IP Logged

    The source is the New York Times — what else would you expect?

     

    Check the State Lottery Report Card
    What grade did your lottery earn?

     

    Sign the Petition for True Lottery Drawings
    Help eliminate computerized drawings!

      ThatScaryChick's avatar - x1MqPuM
      Idaho
      United States
      Member #56506
      November 21, 2007
      6537 Posts
      Offline
      Posted: August 23, 2008, 12:08 am - IP Logged

      The Ray guy, comes off as extremely jealous and angry.

      "No one remembers the person who almost climbed the mountain, only the person who eventually gets to the top."

        Avatar

        United States
        Member #53163
        June 27, 2007
        20 Posts
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        Posted: August 23, 2008, 1:34 am - IP Logged

        God I hate these stories.  I am 23 years old and recently started investing a certain amount of money a month.  Even with a modest investment I am seeing returns between 10-30%.  This guy is blowing 5 times the amount of money I invest monthly and is getting almost NOTHING back.  I spend about $5 to $10 every draw for quick picks and the rest gets invested.  What he does not understand is that with disciplined saving and investing you can get the equivalent of a lower tier lottery win in just a few short years.  Compared to going in the red playing the lottery vigorously, this is much more sane.

        I pity this man only to a point.  You read all of the time about people winning who play for their first time, or play with money they found, or play numbers from a chinese fortune cookie...it's pure luck.  You can buy 1 ticket or 5...you still are trying to beat 1 in a 100,000,000 odds.  You should spend a small amount and be done with it.  Invest the rest wisely and get at least a little something for your troubles.

          jeffrey's avatar - moon
          Hamilton, OH
          United States
          Member #4162
          March 27, 2004
          277 Posts
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          Posted: August 23, 2008, 3:02 am - IP Logged

          God I hate these stories.  I am 23 years old and recently started investing a certain amount of money a month.  Even with a modest investment I am seeing returns between 10-30%.  This guy is blowing 5 times the amount of money I invest monthly and is getting almost NOTHING back.  I spend about $5 to $10 every draw for quick picks and the rest gets invested.  What he does not understand is that with disciplined saving and investing you can get the equivalent of a lower tier lottery win in just a few short years.  Compared to going in the red playing the lottery vigorously, this is much more sane.

          I pity this man only to a point.  You read all of the time about people winning who play for their first time, or play with money they found, or play numbers from a chinese fortune cookie...it's pure luck.  You can buy 1 ticket or 5...you still are trying to beat 1 in a 100,000,000 odds.  You should spend a small amount and be done with it.  Invest the rest wisely and get at least a little something for your troubles.

          Play for fun. Don't be a sucker.

            MysteryMan424's avatar - batman22
            Pelham NY
            United States
            Member #60411
            April 16, 2008
            169 Posts
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            Posted: August 23, 2008, 8:56 am - IP Logged

            No womder this guy is constantly losing, He's buying scratch-offs and picking numbers from random license plates.First thing he should do is get the past results for the game one plays at least a year or two back.Second start with a bankroll say one thousand. Third become a member of lottery post and learn about betting strategy, systems and money management. I bet his luck will improve dramatically. MM

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              Honduras
              Member #20982
              August 29, 2005
              4715 Posts
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              Posted: August 23, 2008, 1:19 pm - IP Logged

              a lot of people don't know better and don't know about LP...You've got to feel simpathy for this guy...

              And i know that feeling, i get it all the time...

              and a lot of people will get on LP but don't have computers so they don't search the internet...

              i feel bad saying this, but my youngest syster doesn't have a computer...My Step mother likes to gamble on pick3 and pick4 but she doesn't use the computer and has never visited LP...Though i've mentioned to her about it...

              This is why i feel compasionate towards people because imagine if that person was a woman..

              If i didn't come to the U.S i will have still like the lottery but will have never know what LP is....

                RJOh's avatar - chipmunk
                mid-Ohio
                United States
                Member #9
                March 24, 2001
                19831 Posts
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                Posted: August 23, 2008, 5:28 pm - IP Logged

                Mr.Otero's problems are no different than those of many lottery players including some at LP.  He want to win big and thinks the more he invest the better his chances.  He should remember that small communities invest several time the money he invests and never see a big winner.  Just like a small community he has no overall strategy for playing, he just randomly play many games and he probably wins enough small prizes($1, $2 or a free play ) to encourage him to buy even more tickets, that's how lotteries work. 

                While Mr.Otero is investing money, LP members are investing time tracking games results and developing strategies for playing to win, they treat playing lotteries like a hobby.  They know buying more than a few tickets doesn't significantly improve their odds of winning big so their lottery budgets are likely to be more in line with what they can afford to lose.   

                 * you don't need to buy more tickets, just buy a winning ticket * 
                   
                             Evil Looking       

                  Littleoldlady's avatar - basket
                  Clarksville
                  United States
                  Member #487
                  July 15, 2002
                  17638 Posts
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                  Posted: August 23, 2008, 6:11 pm - IP Logged

                  License plates??  come on now!! He has no idea of how the lottery works..he plays like so many people....and that is why the lottery can continue to take people's money.

                  If you know your number is going to hit, have patience and then KILL IT!

                  You never know when you will get another hit.

                    crystaltips's avatar - Lottery-025.jpg
                    London
                    United Kingdom
                    Member #58578
                    February 20, 2008
                    51 Posts
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                    Posted: August 24, 2008, 9:38 am - IP Logged

                    A lady in Scotland won 35.4 million pounds on Euromillions and she bought one line and didn't play that often. Think about it, if you win, you will on ONE line so it's not worth investing thousands. The odds are nearly all stacked against you, so you may as well not give the lottery bosses all your cash. One line is just fine.

                    "Depend on the rabbit's foot if you will, but remember it didn't work for the rabbit." - R. E. Shay.

                      MillionsWanted's avatar - 24Qa6LT

                      Norway
                      Member #9517
                      December 10, 2004
                      1272 Posts
                      Online
                      Posted: August 24, 2008, 10:46 am - IP Logged

                      You only need to play ONE line. The problem? It must be correct.

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                        United States
                        Member #10720
                        January 23, 2005
                        933 Posts
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                        Posted: August 24, 2008, 11:05 am - IP Logged

                        "The Unprintable Fellow" - I like that nickname for The Doorman. I want to go to AC and pose by the statue with my gf like he did.

                        The more tickets bought per drawing = better chance of winning IF the drawings are purely random and IF systems don't do anything. If a system can help you win then less is more. When I won the 5 it was on a 2-ticket board with system use. I find it's just as much or even more fun to play only 1 number per draw. What happens is people are afraid "If I don't also play THESE and THOSE then what if they come out I'd be so mad!" Since there is only one winning combination come up with your one best pick and play that, unless your backtest shows that wheeling a few numbers would overcome the ratio. I have not won anything recently but am better off and it was more fun with "one at a time".

                        KEY: backtest! You can "spend" 30K a month virtually and see if you'd have won or lost. Test with random RNG, system picks, or whatever. License plates are the same thing as QP.

                        I play scratch-offs sparely and mostly for fun and when a new one comes out. Random or system play has to overcome the 50% takeout and maybe taxes.

                          savagegoose's avatar - ProfilePho
                          adelaide sa
                          Australia
                          Member #37136
                          April 11, 2006
                          3301 Posts
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                          Posted: August 24, 2008, 11:56 am - IP Logged

                          yeah if the guy had spent $500 a week  " investing " in a company ; and then this other guy comes along and invests $20 and suddenly is rich , he might have something to complain about. but this is the lotto.theres no order of payment, no priority list.  sure if u spend $10 and i spend $5 a week. you should win twice as often as me; but a jackpot changes all that.

                           

                          i guess some people are brought up not trusting banks or investments. hell ive seen enough stories  to know it aint all plain sailing. maybe this guy comes form a background where; other than spending in on yourself, there is no investment options.

                          2014 = -1016; 2015= -1409; 2016 JAN = -106; FEB= -81; MAR= -131; APR= - 87: MAY= -91; JUN= -39; JUL=-134; AUG= -124; SEP = -123; OCT= -84  NOV=- 73 TOT= -3498

                          keno historic = -2291 ; 2015= -603; 2016= JAN=-32, FEB= +12 , MAR= -86, APR = -77. MAY= -48, JUN= -29, JUL=-71; AUG = -52; SEPT= -43; OCT = +56 NOV = -33 TOT= -3297

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                            United States
                            Member #10720
                            January 23, 2005
                            933 Posts
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                            Posted: August 24, 2008, 5:26 pm - IP Logged

                            The story would be less interesting had Mr. Otero won. You'd get a news conference about him going back to his homeland and putting his feet up next to his family (hope he has Odor Eaters!) and that would probably be it. On the other hand The Doorman is a lot more interesting to read about him and this girlfriend of his and the tie-in with another story. If I were to win and then "put my feet up" and do nothing that would drive me into a deep depression. I'm guessing he'd keep playing no matter how much he won.

                            2 Thess. 3 v. 10: "If any will not work neither shall he eat." it's not for "suckers". Things have to be produced or there'd be nothing on the store shelf and no one to sell you whatever goods you want after you win. I want to win so that I have less things to worry about but I'd definitely have to keep busy. At the same time unless I'm in some trouble I'm not jealous if someone nearby won (and it's happened) unless the jerk cut in line in front of me and bought the same scratch-off I was going to and then won! In fact I'm glad if they're local or better yet a friend (even if they don't share) because it's way better than someone anonymously winning 43 states away!

                            All I know is I'd hate to be in line behind that dude.