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Finding that dose of luck to 'huat'

A young man who had never placed a bet before was one of three winners of the Toto Reunion Draw in 2010. -TNP
Ng Jun Sen

Tue, Jan 31, 2012
The New Paper

One punter comes up with intriguing strategy in bid to win the $10 Million Hong Bao Draw It's interesting to observe how the heartlanders take the Chinese New Year so seriously.

Or, should we say, auspiciously.

I was spending a day in various parts of Singapore, watching punters on the go when I spotted an intriguing character.

Here was a stout man, dressed in a red T-shirt emblazoned with the number 68, counting the number of people in the queue.

Each time the line dwindled to five punters, Uncle 68 would jump behind them.

He did this six times at the 4-D and Toto sales point at a gift shop on Pasir Ris Drive 6.

He is placing his bets earlier, too, to beat the long queues expected nearer the $10 Million Hong Bao Draw on Feb 3.

The 66-year-old retiree, who prefers not to be named, reveals that there is a "winner's strategy" in his action.

Uncle 68 shows off his six slips of Toto bets and says: "I consulted a fortune-teller, who told me that my lucky number in the Year of the Dragon is 6."

Uncle 68 brushes off the suggestion that he is being too "pantang" (Malay for superstitious) and insists: "People can laugh at me, but if I win the big draw, they will want to know where my fortune teller is."

He adds: "Do you know that six lucky winners won the most recent big draw?"

And the connection, I ask?

"See, it's all about the number 6!" Uncle 68 explains.

He was referring to the Toto Reunion Draw, which saw six lucky winners sharing $7 million last week.

Obsession with luck is rife these two weeks as the Chinese New Year is considered especially auspicious.

Efforts are not spared to welcome "cai shen ye" (God of Wealth) into the homes and lives of those who want a dash of that good luck.

So what better time than now to "huat" (Hokkien for prosper)?

That said though, our weekly poll results indicate that only 21 out of 50 people gamble during the Chinese New Year.

Madam Lim Ah Cheng, 59, happily confesses that she won "a few hundred dollars" in the Toto Reunion Draw.

The hardware shop owner, who spent about $100 on the bets, says: "It's a good start for me and I've set aside the winnings for the Hong Bao Draw.

"Luck follows luck, you see."

While some die-hard punters don't mind going around the island in search of celebrated lucky outlets, others, such as Mr Sean Kek, don't mind the less popular spots.

The 43-year-old bus driver says: "If your (lucky) stars are rig ht, you can still strike it big even if you buy just one ticket at whichever 'ulu' (out of the way) outlet."

Convenience matters more for Mrs Tina Lim, a housewife, who can steal away for only an hour from babysitting her three grandchildren, aged between seven months and three years old.

Mrs Lim, 60, says: "I can go out to place my bets only in the early afternoon, when my grandchildren are taking their naps."

She adds: "I don't normally buy Toto, but this annual draw is definitely attractive.

"I guess many of us are caught up in the festive mood and it's good to 'huat' during Chinese New Year."

And if you believe in beginner's luck like florist Ng Yuan Lin does, first-time punters have a good chance of winning.

Miss Ng, 29, has pooled $500 with three friends - who have not bought Toto before - to place bets on this year's Hong Bao Draw.

She says: "We think it'd be quite fun, and who knows, we may just be one of the lucky winners." Not that it can't happen.

A young man who had never placed a bet before was one of three winners of the Toto Reunion Draw in 2010.

He had bought two QuickPick System 7 tickets after work and ended up with a share of about $2 million .

All 45 heartlanders randomly approached by this columnist at the various sales points say they will invest part of their winnings on properties.

In a survey conducted and published by the Singapore Pools in 2010, the top five things that Singaporeans said they would do with their winnings were:

1. Buy a house for their parents,

2. Save for retirement,

3. Donate to charity (ties with saving for children's education),

4. Go on an overseas holiday,

5. Share with family members (ties with using it for business).

That finding was not too different for one that was done in the UK, where the top five reasons were:

1. Buy a new house,

2. Buy an overseas holiday home,

3. Donate to charity,

4. Holidays with friends,

5. Buy a house for their parents.

And if you catch this Heartland Aunty, who hardly buys Toto, in some queue this week, chances are I'm hoping to buy a new home for my extended family members too.

This article was first published in The New Paper.

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