Skip to main content

Waterloo statistics prof dunks on Tim’s Roll Up To Win – again


A passion can take many forms. If you are passionate about statistics and competition, then one of Canada’s favourite contests, Tim Hortons' Roll Up To Win – formally Roll Up the Rim – is a worthy challenge.

Michael Wallace, a statistics professor at the University of Waterloo, believes he is on the way to beating the game for a second time.

“As a statistician, when I see these games being promoted, I can’t help but think ‘how exactly does this work, how exactly are the rules designed,'” says Wallace.

Back in the spring of 2020 when Tim Hortons moved Roll Up To Win online, Wallace saw an opening.

“As a general rule, once systems are more complicated, that usually means there’s more opportunities to try and get in there to try and find a little edge… that you can take advantage of,” he says.

Wallce won 94 times on 96 rolls that year. The details of Wallace's strategy can be found here.

All 94 wins were in the form of either a coffee or a donut. Wallace donated his sugar and caffeine fortune to a local charity.


Last year, in 2021, Wallace says the game design was changed, and his results suffered.

“That second time I played, I didn’t win a single coffee or a doughnut, I was without caffeine or sugar,” he says.

The score was tied – one for Wallace, one for Tim Hortons.

Wallace continued his research during the Roll Up To Win campaign in the fall of 2021, and by spring 2022 he was ready to test a new theory.

Wallace saved 54 unused rolls and played them in “the sweet spot,” an early morning hour in the days after the contest ended, but you could still play unused rolls.

“At that point… the number of people playing drops off, which makes sense, it’s no longer is heavily advertised,” he explains.

Wallace won a coffee or donut on 21 of his 54 rolls, a win rate of nearly 40 per cent.

“What I learned was my strategy was fundamentally pretty solid,” he says.


According to Wallace, this little side project has taken on a prominent role in his university classroom.

“That’s one of the reasons I actually do this, it’s not so much for the free coffee, as great as that is,” he says.

“It’s just to give me the stories and examples that I can use to try to persuade my students what I think is perhaps the most important lesson in my class, that statistics can be fun and statistics can be applied to real world problems and in unexpected ways.”

Wallace says he is still fine tuning his strategy and will be back for the next Roll Up To Win campaign.

In a statement to CTV News, Restaurant Brands International, the company that oversees Tim Hortons said in part:

"In 2020 we welcomed professor Wallace's interest in the program and appreciated how he used it to engage with his students. We coordinated a donation of Tims coffee and baked goods to a hospital of his choice... this year we welcome professor Wallace's findings again ... and appreciate his unique approach to engage his students by tying his teaching to our iconic game." Top Stories

Stay Connected