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  1. #1
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    lottery, anyone?

    DISCLAIMER: I know the lottery is just a tax on those without math skills. As a couple of my Irish friends say, "Ignorance tax is very dear."

    The powerball lottery in the U.S. is up to about $500M. That the lottery commission chose ASP for their website might suggest otherwise , but I bet the randomness of the numbers is probably pretty thoroughly vetted. Still, I wonder if there might be some way to improve one's chances ever so slightly by looking for temporal locality in winning numbers from week to week or perhaps other types of patterns. I did spend some time analyzing a few weeks' worth of winning numbers at one point and found some numbers occurred more frequently, but was unable to recall enough statistics to know if this was an anomaly or not.

    Thoughts?
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    Senior Member traq's Avatar
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    you should slap together a statistical analysis and offer the "most probable numbers" for $10 each.

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    Quote Originally Posted by traq View Post
    you should slap together a statistical analysis and offer the "most probable numbers" for $10 each.
    Traq, that is such a good idea. It's certainly a better bet than playing the numbers.
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    Pedantic Curmudgeon Weedpacket's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sneakyimp
    Still, I wonder if there might be some way to improve one's chances ever so slightly by looking for temporal locality in winning numbers from week to week or perhaps other types of patterns.
    That powerball site doesn't respond for me, so I'm going to comment on how the lottery is run in New Zealand. The draw is made by drawing balls from a tumbler. There are slight variations in weight between balls that can become measurable over many runs. In defence, there are half-a-dozen complete sets (and three tumblers), and no mention is made of which set is used in which draw. Wear and tear also sees balls being retired and replaced with new ones (the way casinos regularly replace craps dice and packs of cards).

    And - well let's put it this way: you can go to the commission's website and download a list of all of the draws ever made in a handy spreadsheet.
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    Unless I misunderstand, powerball sounds much less robust in terms of their randomizing efforts and therefore much more susceptible to careful analysis.

    Quote Originally Posted by www.powerball.com
    Powerball® is a combined large jackpot game and a cash game. Every Wednesday and Saturday night at 10:59 p.m. Eastern Time, we draw five white balls out of a drum with 59 balls and one red ball out of a drum with 35 red balls. Draw sales cut off at least 59 minutes before the draw. Check for local cut-off time.

    Players win by matching one of the 9 Ways to Win. The jackpot (won by matching all five white balls in any order and the red Powerball) is either an annuitized prize paid out over 29 years (30 payments) or a lump sum payment. Each ticket costs $2. If the winner chooses the annuity, the annual payment will be increased each year by the percentage set out in the Powerball game rules.
    The 9 ways to win:
    Code:
    5 balls+red - Jackpot (1 in 175,223,510.00)
    5 - $1,000,000 (1 in 5,153,632.65)
    4+red - $10,000 (1 in 648,975.96)
    4 - $100 (1 in 19,087.53)
    3+red - $100 (1 in 12,244.83)
    3 - $7 (1 in 360.14)
    2+red - $7 (1 in 706.43)
    1+red - $4 (1 in 110.81)
    red - $4 (1 in 55.41)
    I have found the numbers dating back to 1997 and am massaging them in a spreadsheet.
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    Pedantic Curmudgeon Weedpacket's Avatar
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    But do they mention how many drums they have, or how many sets of balls they have? And do they ever say which of each they use in any particular draw, or what the lifespan of any given ball may be?
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    past_powerball_winners_clean.txt
    Quote Originally Posted by Weedpacket View Post
    But do they mention how many drums they have, or how many sets of balls they have? And do they ever say which of each they use in any particular draw, or what the lifespan of any given ball may be?
    AFAIK, there are only two drums: one for the 5 white balls and one for the red ball. I can't be sure, though. I do know that you never get the same number twice for the white balls -- this is what makes me think there is only one drum for white balls. No additional information is available.

    Winner data since 1997 attached for anyone interested. Any suggestions about extracting notable order from the data set would be much appreciated
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    High Energy Magic Dept. NogDog's Avatar
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    Got my $4 in for our office pool. It's the only time I waste my money on lottery tickets, since I don't want to be the only person left working here when everyone else leaves.
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    Quote Originally Posted by NogDog View Post
    Got my $4 in for our office pool. It's the only time I waste my money on lottery tickets, since I don't want to be the only person left working here when everyone else leaves.
    Agreed a lottery is typically a waste of money -- and my stats are really really really rusty -- but with a 500M prize and odds of 1 in 175M of winning it, your expected return is almost reasonable. Just found out this morning you can't buy powerball tickets in CA.
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    Quote Originally Posted by sneakyimp View Post
    Just found out this morning you can't buy powerball tickets in CA.
    Road trip!
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    Quote Originally Posted by sneakyimp View Post
    Just found out this morning you can't buy powerball tickets in CA.
    Must be yet another thing that is "known to the State of California to cause cancer" ?

  12. #12
    High Energy Magic Dept. NogDog's Avatar
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    We have about 50 people in our office pool. One lady there figured out that should our group have the only jackpot-winning ticket and we took the lump sum payment, each of us would end up with about 3.7 million dollars after taxes. Sure, it's not filthy rich money, but I could retire comfortably enough.
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    Good Luck!!!
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  14. #14
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    Yes, good luck ye players. As food for thought, here is some pretty awesome analysis:
    http://www.durangobill.com/PowerballOdds.html
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    Quote Originally Posted by sneakyimp View Post
    past_powerball_winners_clean.txt
    Winner data since 1997 attached for anyone interested. Any suggestions about extracting notable order from the data set would be much appreciated
    How about putting less money into the analysis department and more money into the department usually responsible for coming up with buzzwords? Even if you could get a statistical increase in win chance by 1%, what does that mean if you can't communicate it to the consumers? And trust me, unless you tell them what a freaking awesome deal they're making by buying your overpriced resale tickets - they won't know!

    And this is kinda sort of reverse engineering. Once you know how to market the awesome-o deal to the consumers, does it really matter if the
    MAXED OUT CHANCE TO WIN BILLIONS(over several rounds - each round is for millions only)!!one1 is actually within the "margin of error"

    Yes, I'm aware of most countries having laws against fraud, regulations regarding marketing etc, but if you take the remaining funds left for the analysis department and instead throw them into the renowned Department of Law... Why, you might even win a court case vs the state by arguing that there really is no reason to prove anything in order to impose a "stupid tax" on people. No government has to prove the reason for their taxes, they just impose them. And while you certainly have no right to impose stuff on people, this is after all "stupid tax by consent". Additionally, that it is a "stupid tax" can be considered empirically proven post facto
    Err, what were we supposed to be proving to begin with anyway?

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