100% ODDS

I have a new podcast episode – a Minicast about a small group of Lotto Enthusiasts who tried to guarantee themselves a jackpot by buying every single ticket in a Virginia lottery in 1992. We've all wondered about that at some point. Can it be done? Only one way for you to find out. And I know you're curious.

I use this anecdote when introducing probability in my research methods courses. Don't panic, though. I removed all the math for your listening pleasure. Get the episode on iTunes or listen through your browser via Stitcher.

14 thoughts on “100% ODDS”

  • I could be wrong since I can't do the math but I'm told it's possible to buy all of the possible combinations.

    OTOH, the stated odds for the Megamillions price is something like 256M-1.

  • It was done by several individuals back in the early days of state lotteries when the number of tickets required was, relatively speaking, low. There was a great article recently about a couple somewhere in the midwest (Iowa?) who realized that the state lottery could be gamed by aiming for 5 matching numbers instead of 6. They eventually set up a syndicate of friends and relatives and were making $$ for at least 5 years until somebody at the state lotto realized what was going on and they changed the game. So, these intrepid folks realized that the MA state lottery was also "hackable" in a similar fashion. They would drive all the way to MA, stay in a cheap motel, and fill out all the forms, and yes, make lots of $$. This went on until MA got wise. It turns out there was another group that had been "gaming" the MA lottery for years…..MIT students.

  • john danley says:

    I once organized a 12-step Powerball Therapy program several years ago.
    There is one who has all power; that one is Powerball.

    1. Admitted we were powerless over the economy and that our finances had become unmanageable.
    2. Came to believe that a Powerball greater than several million dollars could restore us to sanity.
    3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of Powerball on the day we purchased it.
    4. Made a searching and fearless map of all lottery locations.
    5. Admitted to lottery officials, to ourselves, and to local investment bankers the exact nature of our investment income.
    6. Were entirely ready to have Powerball remove our financial concerns.
    7. Humbly asked for another Powerball ticket if we experienced shortcomings.
    8. Made a list of all lottery options and became willing to purchase them all.
    9. Made direct deposits to local financial institutions whenever we encountered three or more winning numbers.
    10. Continued to purchase Powerball tickets, and when we did not win, promptly admitted it.
    11. Sought through probability research and impulsive gambling to improve our conscious contact with Powerball—asking only for the knowledge of current odds and the power to withstand future losses when they occur.
    12. Having had a financial awakening as a result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to others, and to practice purchasing Powerball with increased frequency.

  • Yes, you can buy a minimum number of tickets to guarantee a win. However, other people can buy winning tickets also, so …

  • Nothing to do with the lottery here, which I don't play even if it was once considered a tongue-in-cheek retirement plan on my part. No. It's that personal revelation FB post, which I read on the blog sidebar since I'm not the social media type and have to follow your musings as posted on this site.

    The point is, wow man. That's some courageous public exposure you're doing there.

    Keep the wind in your sails.

    You've got something to give.

  • I always assumed it axiomatic that all instances of organized gambling consist of negative sum games. Am I missing something?

  • Isn't "Lotto Enthiusiasts" a euphemism for "People who'd like to have a ton of money dropped on them for no good reason", ie Everybody?

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