Credit where credit is due, it was the 17th century mathematicians Fermat and Pascal who first laid the groundwork for what we now call "probability." They were the first to figure out the formula that determines the great equalizer, the most exciting part of any raffle: chance. It's chance that gives us something we all need, regardless of the prize. What is it?

Hope. Anyone can be a winner when it comes to a raffle. Sure, there are methods to try and increase your odds. You can buy additional tickets. You can by a string of tickets in order, or buy multiple tickets at random. But, in the end, anything can happen. That's what makes it so exciting!

Anticipation is the name of the game, and a good raffle should play on that. A raffle should focus on the things everyone has in common. Everyone wants a chance; everyone wants to have at least some glimmer of hope of winning the big prize.

No matter what the prize is, everyone wants to be a winner. Having multiple drawings can increase anticipation as the event goes on. Including Raffle Tickets with the price of admission, or adding them as a bonus to any purchase at the event, can give people the feeling that they have a good chance of winning.

Can we really play the odds in a raffle? Can someone really affect the outcome depending upon how many Raffle Tickets they buy, or what order they buy them in? Fermat and Pascal certainly thought so. But nothing is certain when it comes to probability. We buy our tickets and wait for the numbers to be called for the same reason we watch our favorite sports teams play, no matter how bad they might be: because anything can happen.

Everyone has a chance to win with a raffle, and what more could we ask for than a chance?