University of Waterloo instructor crunches numbers to figure out best chances at Tim Hortons' Roll Up to Win

Michael Wallace, a University of Waterloo instructor in statistics and actuarial science, uses Tim Hortons' published data to figure out the best and worst times to buy coffee and earn Roll Up to Win contest prizes.

Michael Wallace uses published data by the coffee chain to figure out the best time to buy coffee and win

Man with hat, wearing sweater saying "math" and holding a try of Tim Hortons coffee cups in front of Tim Hortons
University of Waterloo statistician Michael Wallace says he's won Roll Up To Win about 80 per cent of the time this year and his secret is playing between 3 a.m. and 4 a.m. ET. (Provided by Michael Wallace)

Want to win a prize playing Tim Hortons' Roll Up to Win game? 

Your best bet is to play between 3 a.m. and 4 a.m., according to a University of Waterloo associate professor, who says he's figured out how to win the coffee shop's annual contest. 

Roll Up to Win moved online a few years ago, changing the way the game is played and set up. 

"One of the big changes was that your chances of winning get better if you enter the contest by playing on the app," said Michael Wallace, who's in the department of statistics and actuarial science at the Ontario university.

Wallace figured out the best times to play the game by using data that Tim Hortons publishes on its website.

He said the data tells you how many prizes are being given away and when prizes are won. Wallace recorded and tracked the numbers to determine "a really precise mathematical method to figure out exactly the best time to play."

University of Waterloo statistics professor figured out how to have the best odds of winning in Tim Hortons's 'Roll Up the Rim' contest.
Wallace, a statistics instructor at the University of Waterloo, says he's won Roll Up to Win 80 per cent of the time. (University of Waterloo)

Even though Wallace said he's figured out the contest, he hasn't won a big-ticket item like a car yet, but he does win 80 per cent of the time he plays. 

"I've won a lot of coffees, I'm a bit annoyed this year actually because I've only won one doughnut. So I've won plenty of coffees, only one doughnut," Wallace said. 

Tim Hortons loves its 'superfans'

The Canadian coffee franchise doesn't have a problem with Wallace gaming the contest. 

"We know there are many Roll Up superfans like Prof. Wallace who enjoy strategizing on how to best play the game and we appreciate their passion for playing Canada's favourite game," a Tim Hortons media representative said in a email to CBC News. 

Wallace likes using games and contests in his own teaching, especially in large introduction to statistics classes where students may have preconceived notions that statistics is a dry and boring subject. 

"I find it is one of the places where statistics can really kind of jump out of the page in real life," he said. "I use contests like this to try and share with them what I get excited about as a statistician, which is the fact that the world is full of data, and you can get these numbers."

The Roll Up the Rim contest ends Sunday.


Anam Latif


Anam Latif can be reached via email at