There is an interesting news item on how a Stanford Statistics PhD may have beaten the odds through a systematic approach. Total winnings from four scratcher jackpots beginning in 1993 adds up to $21 million.
The Clever Part
The clever part was figuring out the seasonality and geographic locations of the winning scratcher cards. Not hard to do if you just reason it out and run some stats on winner locations and dates. The brute force approach was the fact that the winner had to play scratchers for two months out of the year. Likely this was done many hours each day (unclear how many) but 2 months out of 12 is about 2 hours per day. These are round numbers but it gives us something to measure.
Eye on the Goal
One of the interesting aspects of this kind of work is that there is no feedback, other than the big payout. This may have been a 30 year project of two months per year, with only four jackpot events. Of course with scratchers as with other lottery-style games there are partial or low value winners as well, so there is some feedback, but overall it is a game of losing punctuated by (every 7 years?) fantastic payouts. To some degree this sounds like entrepreneurial activity, except for the complete mindlessness of it.
Two hours of Mindless Work
Taken on a daily basis, this is two hours of mindless work per day. Not bad at all, compared with the average boredom of daily life on a planetary scale. What are your two hours of mindlessness? Can it pay out as handsomely?