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#1
03-03-2010, 09:34 AM
 Dilton Doiley,Philosopher King Guest Join Date: Aug 2007 Location: Meta-Rivobamadale Posts: 264
Does buying 10 lottery tickets increase my odds by a power of ten?

If the odds of winning a lottery jackpot are 1 in 175,711,536, if I buy 10 tickets, do my odds change to 1 in 17,571,153.6? And 100 tickets increases it to 1 in 1,757,115.36?

That is, is "10 in 175,711,536" the same as "1 in 17,571,153.6"?
#2
03-03-2010, 09:37 AM
 CookingWithGas Charter Member Join Date: Mar 1999 Location: Tysons Corner, VA, USA Posts: 11,495
If you buy multiple tickets each with a different number, your chances increase by a factor of how many tickets you buy.

The "power of 10" phrase is a little misleading. If you buy 5 tickets, your chances increase by a factor of 5. If you buy 127 tickets, your chances increase by a factor of 127. Powers of 10 have nothing to do with it, except that your examples use powers of 10 for the number of tickets.

And yes, "10 in 175,711,536" is the same as "1 in 17,571,153.6".
#3
03-03-2010, 09:58 AM
 don't ask Member Join Date: May 2001 Location: Sydney, Australia Posts: 17,676
Alternatively, if you buy one lottery ticket with 1 chance in 175,711,536 of winning you have 175,711,535 chances of not winning.

If you buy 10 tickets you have 175,711,526 chances of not winning.

So you have improved your chances of not winning from

99.999999430885402993688473590032% to 99.999994308854029936884735900322%

This represents an improvement of

.00000512203166455910240060177%
#4
03-03-2010, 10:01 AM
 Vorpal Blade Guest Join Date: Nov 2007 Location: Washington, DC Posts: 258
Quote:
 Originally Posted by don't ask ...This represents an improvement of .00000512203166455910240060177%
Whoa! Buzzkill.
#5
03-03-2010, 10:22 AM
 md2000 Guest Join Date: Feb 2009 Posts: 13,235
There's the old joke about the poor guy that used to pray every night for God to let him win the lottery. After several years of this, he's praying one night when there's a thunderbolt, a cloud appears, a giant hand comes out the cloud, points a finger at him and says "You cheap bastard! The least you could do is help me out by buying a ticket once in a while!"

So - your odds of winning go up tremendously with the first ticket. With the second, you spend \$1 (or whatever) and double your chances. By the fift, an extra dollar only adds 20% to your chjnce of winning. By 10, it's only 10% for a buck. You have to spend \$10 to double your chances of winning.

So the more tickets you have, the less useful your marginal extra dollar spent is. That's another way of looking at it. But yes, the theory is every (different) ticket has an equal chance of winning so every dollar is equally well spent.

The only unpredictable factor is whether there are duplicate winners. One group of people where I worked won the lottery - about \$2million - but had to share it 6 ways. That's a very large split compared to usual, then among the group it was split 11 ways. Each person got \$30,000 or so. Better than nothing, but still...
#6
03-03-2010, 10:46 AM
 footballisplayedwithyourfeet Guest Join Date: Oct 2008 Location: Netherlands Posts: 761
Also, you forget that once you buy more tickets, the total amount of tickets sold will be larger. It comes down to whether this is a lotery where they draw a number from all possible numbers or a lottery where they guarantee someone is going to win. If you include the possibility of having the same number as somebody else it becomes different alltogether.

poss. 1 As explained above, your chances increase whith the factor of the amount of tickets you buy (buying 10 has a chance of winning of 10 times the probability when buying 1).

poss 2 Almost the same as poss 1, but a tiny bit less because the total amount of tickets sold also grows when you buy more tickets.

poss 3 Depends on how many people have the same number and whether there has to be a winner or not.
#7
03-03-2010, 11:42 AM
 UncleFred Guest Join Date: Jan 2008 Posts: 752
But let's consider the case where you buy one of every available ticket number. Then for sure when they pull the lucky number out of the bowl (or whatever), you're a winner.

On the other hand, I believe the finances work out that your prize is only 50%, maybe less, of what you spent buying tickets. That's assuming you don't have to share the prize. And further that's before they take out taxes (I doubt you can deduct the cost of the tickets)

So, what may really count is not the odds of winning, but the expected return. Granted for very low numbers of tickets as could realistically happen, that does track the number of tickets bought. And its still depressingly low.
#8
03-03-2010, 11:52 AM
 KneadToKnow Voodoo Adult (Slight Return) Charter Member Join Date: Jul 2000 Location: Charlotte, NC, USA Posts: 24,874
I did the math and decided that my chances of winning the lottery were pretty much the same whether I played or not.
#9
03-03-2010, 11:59 AM
 kayaker Member Join Date: Jul 2009 Location: Western Pennsylvania Posts: 27,023
Quote:
 Originally Posted by KneadToKnow I did the math and decided that my chances of winning the lottery were pretty much the same whether I played or not.
I did the math and played the numbers instead of the state sanctioned version.
#10
03-03-2010, 12:38 PM
 Lemur866 Charter Member Join Date: Jul 2000 Location: The Middle of Puget Sound Posts: 21,046
[QUOTE=md2000;12182134]
So - your odds of winning go up tremendously with the first ticket.QUOTE]

The difference between 0.0000005% and 0.00000000% is only tremendous for certain values of tremendous.
#11
03-03-2010, 12:41 PM
 Thudlow Boink Charter Member Join Date: May 2000 Location: Lincoln, IL Posts: 24,083
Is that better than getting a 300% raise at your volunteer no-pay job?
#12
03-03-2010, 01:05 PM
 CandidGamera Guest Join Date: Feb 2004 Location: Morgantown, WV Posts: 10,856
Quote:
 Originally Posted by don't ask Alternatively, if you buy one lottery ticket with 1 chance in 175,711,536 of winning you have 175,711,535 chances of not winning. If you buy 10 tickets you have 175,711,526 chances of not winning. So you have improved your chances of not winning from 99.999999430885402993688473590032% to 99.999994308854029936884735900322% This represents an improvement of .00000512203166455910240060177%
Semi-important note : not quite true if you buy them randomly - but correct if you make sure to buy distinct number sets. If bought randomly your chance of winning is :
1 - (175,711,535/175,711,536)n
where n = the number of tickets you buy. There's a slight diminishment of returns on the second and subsequent tickets with regards to probability, because of the small chance that two (or more) of your tickets will win.
#13
03-03-2010, 01:09 PM
 UncleFred Guest Join Date: Jan 2008 Posts: 752
Quote:
 Originally Posted by KneadToKnow I did the math and decided that my chances of winning the lottery were pretty much the same whether I played or not.
You're expected return is better if you don't buy a ticket.

If you buy a \$1 ticket, your expected return is \$0.50 (depending on the game) whereas if you put the \$1 in your pocket the expected return is \$1.
#14
03-03-2010, 01:15 PM
 N9IWP Charter Member Join Date: Aug 2001 Location: Southeast MN Posts: 5,680
With some progessive jackpots,sometimes it happenes that the payout is over the number of combinations (say, 200,000,000 combinations but the payout is 300,000,000). But even if you buy every combo, you are not guaranteed a profit because someone else may have the same combo. (say only one, the payout diminishes to 150,000,000). (though you might also win some lesser prizes for matching X numbers)

Not to mention the logistics of buying millions of tickets.

Brian
#15
03-03-2010, 01:17 PM
 The Flying Dutchman Guest Join Date: Nov 2000 Location: 50N West Georgia Strait Posts: 8,596
Quote:
 Originally Posted by UncleFred You're expected return is better if you don't buy a ticket. If you buy a \$1 ticket, your expected return is \$0.50 (depending on the game) whereas if you put the \$1 in your pocket the expected return is \$1.
Actually, if you put the dollar in your pocket your return (or expected return) is zero.
#16
03-03-2010, 01:49 PM
 iamthewalrus(:3= Guest Join Date: Jul 2000 Location: Santa Barbara, CA Posts: 10,578
Quote:
 Originally Posted by UncleFred On the other hand, I believe the finances work out that your prize is only 50%, maybe less, of what you spent buying tickets. That's assuming you don't have to share the prize. And further that's before they take out taxes (I doubt you can deduct the cost of the tickets)
Can't you? You can deduct gambling losses (against gambling wins), and lottery tickets that don't win sound like gambling losses to me.
#17
03-03-2010, 02:24 PM
 Lestrade Guest Join Date: Jul 2009 Posts: 251
Quote:
 Originally Posted by iamthewalrus(:3= Can't you? You can deduct gambling losses (against gambling wins), and lottery tickets that don't win sound like gambling losses to me.
Sure, but you'd be hard pressed to legally deduct gambling losses from your taxes.
#18
03-03-2010, 02:30 PM
 Lemur866 Charter Member Join Date: Jul 2000 Location: The Middle of Puget Sound Posts: 21,046
You can deduct gambling losses, but only against gambling wins. So if you lose \$1000 at the blackjack tables today, win \$8000 tomorrow, and lose \$3000 the next day, you only owe taxes on \$4000.
#19
03-03-2010, 02:31 PM
 Interconnected Series of Tubes Guest Join Date: Sep 2008 Location: California's hat Posts: 848
Oh god, the sigfigs. THEY BURN!
#20
03-03-2010, 02:31 PM
 CookingWithGas Charter Member Join Date: Mar 1999 Location: Tysons Corner, VA, USA Posts: 11,495
Quote:
Originally Posted by The Flying Dutchman
Quote:
 Originally Posted by [B UncleFred][/b]You're expected return is better if you don't buy a ticket. If you buy a \$1 ticket, your expected return is \$0.50 (depending on the game) whereas if you put the \$1 in your pocket the expected return is \$1.
Actually, if you put the dollar in your pocket your return (or expected return) is zero.
Yes. And if you buy a \$1 ticket the expected value is -\$0.50.
#21
03-03-2010, 03:52 PM
 davekhps Guest Join Date: Sep 2008 Posts: 764
I'll buy a \$1 ticket for big lotteries, simply to buy the dream.

Sometimes, I'll even throw in \$20. Not because I know that does anything to increase my winnings-- it just gives me 20 numbers to patiently check versus just one, allowing me to dream a little bit more.

O/T, personally, I hate lotteries. It's not that they're a tax on stupid people-- I think most people, rich or poor, understand that the math is ridiculously against them-- but simply because they're a tax, period. If governments want to raise money for a useful public service, let them do that honestly and openly. Bribing us with dreams of wealth just to get (some, very few) schools funded... skeevy.
#22
03-03-2010, 04:15 PM
 SCSimmons Guest Join Date: Mar 2001 Location: Arlington, TX Posts: 3,260
Quote:
 Originally Posted by davekhps If governments want to raise money for a useful public service, let them do that honestly and openly. Bribing us with dreams of wealth just to get (some, very few) schools funded... skeevy.
And if even a few percent of voters thought that way, they might. Challenger: "If elected, I'll abolish the state lottery, and raise taxes to pay for the schools instead!" Incumbent: "Um, OK. You know, I think I'll just sock my campaign funds away for a future race. Somebody smart might run against me next time. So, anyone have a baby for me to kiss? I love kissing babies. And motherhood, and apple pie, and giving the great people of this state their weekly chance to get filthy rich!" And the crowd goes wild ...

If it makes you feel better, you can consider the lottery as a voluntary tax on people who would like to help provide more support to education, and the drawing as a little game they include to make paying the voluntary tax more fun and less painful. Just keep telling yourself that virtually nobody thinks of the lottery as an investment program, and you may eventually come to believe it.
__________________
-Christian
"You won't like me when I'm angry. Because I always back up my rage with facts and documented sources." -- The Credible Hulk
#23
03-03-2010, 04:33 PM
 Arnold Winkelried Charter Member Charter Member Join Date: Oct 1999 Location: Irvine, California, USA Posts: 14,822
A real-life case of a man buying a ton of lottery tickets and making a profit

Stefan Klincewicz, Polish-Irish businessman, headed a team of 28 Dubliners to try to buy all winning combinations for an Irish lottery in 1992. The National Lottery tried to thwart the group once they became aware of their plan (turning off some lottery vending machines etc.) so they weren't able to buy all numbers but amongst their 1.6 million tickets they got the winning numbers. Other people won too so the jackpot had to be split, but the group won in other categories. The syndicates final profit: £310,000 before expenses. (Note: after that, the lottery system changed in Ireland to prevent another group from trying the same thing.)

A word to the wise: all this seems too complicated. The easiest way is to go splurge on a dinner at your local Chinese restaurant. The fortune cookie will reveal the winning lottery numbers.
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#24
03-03-2010, 04:58 PM
 Keeve Guest Join Date: Aug 2000 Location: NY/NJ, USA Posts: 5,071
Quote:
 Originally Posted by davekhps I'll buy a \$1 ticket for big lotteries, simply to buy the dream.
Ditto. For one measly dollar from my entertainment budget, I get a half-week worth of daydreaming. Much more bang-for-the-buck than a \$10 movie ticket, in my opinion.
#25
03-03-2010, 05:14 PM
 AskNott Charter Member Join Date: Mar 1999 Location: Anderson, IN,USA Posts: 14,584
Don't get too excited about a scheme to buy all 175 million possible number combinations. You need order blanks to buy specific numbers, and they run through the machines a bit slower than random-pick tickets do. If you figure out how many lottery outlets are in your state, and multiply by how many custom-ordered tickets you could possibly buy in all the available minutes at each outlet in the days until the next draw, you're probably going to find your flock of henchmen won't have enough time to buy all the 175 million tickets you need.

There are other interfering factors, too. Every few thousand tix, every machine will need a new roll of paper. Does the cashier need to take an hourly reading? Can all those henchmen and all those cashiers go that long without a pee break? Can your henchmen fight off the regular customers who also want to buy tix? Can you be sure your henchmen won't cheat you?
__________________
"You know what they say about sleeping dogs; you can't trust 'em." --Oliver Faltz
#26
03-04-2010, 04:48 AM
 Dereknocue67 Guest Join Date: Jan 2010 Location: Norfolk, VA Posts: 1,029
Quote:
 Originally Posted by KneadToKnow I did the math and decided that my chances of winning the lottery were pretty much the same whether I played or not.
Hold on a minute . . . that's not true!

Why, according to my emails, I've won multiple lotteries in Nigeria and never bought a ticket.
#27
03-04-2010, 05:37 AM
 Colophon Guest Join Date: Sep 2002 Location: Hampshire, England Posts: 13,348
Quote:
 Originally Posted by Arnold Winkelried A real-life case of a man buying a ton of lottery tickets and making a profit Stefan Klincewicz, Polish-Irish businessman, headed a team of 28 Dubliners to try to buy all winning combinations for an Irish lottery in 1992. The National Lottery tried to thwart the group once they became aware of their plan (turning off some lottery vending machines etc.) so they weren't able to buy all numbers but amongst their 1.6 million tickets they got the winning numbers. Other people won too so the jackpot had to be split, but the group won in other categories. The syndicates final profit: £310,000 before expenses. (Note: after that, the lottery system changed in Ireland to prevent another group from trying the same thing.)
I don't get this - why would the lottery organisers try to "thwart the plan"? Any increased ticket sales are good for the lottery, so why on earth would they want to stop someone from buying all combinations? Buying all ticket combinations is not illegal and there's no reason why it should be. It's not like having someone go out and buy every possible ticket is going to lose the lottery operator money - in fact quite the opposite.
#28
03-04-2010, 05:38 AM
 si_blakely Guest Join Date: Jul 2002 Location: UK Posts: 4,893
Quote:
 Originally Posted by AskNott Don't get too excited about a scheme to buy all 175 million possible number combinations.
You don't need to purchase all 175 million possible tickets. You only need to purchase enough tickets with a spread to recoup your costs via the smallest winning combination. The number of tickets required is significantly smaller, and you have the chance of profiting via the larger prizes - not guaranteed, but the odds are significantly higher. It is still very difficult, and there are rules to prevent it, but you don't need to buy every ticket.

Si (who once did the math on the NZ Lottery for a bit of fun)
#29
03-04-2010, 08:54 AM
 Lestrade Guest Join Date: Jul 2009 Posts: 251
Quote:
 Originally Posted by Lemur866 You can deduct gambling losses, but only against gambling wins. So if you lose \$1000 at the blackjack tables today, win \$8000 tomorrow, and lose \$3000 the next day, you only owe taxes on \$4000.
That's interesting, I didn't know that (irs.gov gambling tax tips). Thank you for correcting me.
#30
03-04-2010, 10:01 AM
 Icarus Member Join Date: Feb 2001 Location: In front of my PC, y tu? Posts: 4,131
[Gump]Momma always said - you got a 50% chance of winning the lottery, either you win or you don't![/Gump]
#31
03-04-2010, 10:18 AM
 Quartz Charter Member Join Date: Jan 2003 Location: Home of the haggis Posts: 27,331
Count me in the lottery = entertainment column.
#32
03-04-2010, 10:19 AM
 Lestrade Guest Join Date: Jul 2009 Posts: 251
Quote:
 Originally Posted by Icarus [Gump]Momma always said - you got a 50% chance of winning the lottery, either you win or you don't![/Gump]
Ugh. Years ago I was in a Philosophy class and a student actually argued that. Worse, the example under consideration was whether it made sense to drink coffee or Draino for breakfast based on past experience.

The crowning moment came later when the professor used Alchemy as a straw man and the same student complained. He claimed that he had spent four years studying Alchemy and that the professor was mis-representing it.

There really is no hope for some people.

Last edited by Lestrade; 03-04-2010 at 10:21 AM.
#33
03-04-2010, 01:05 PM
 Anthony N Guest Join Date: Sep 2008 Posts: 78
Quote:
 Originally Posted by Colophon I don't get this - why would the lottery organisers try to "thwart the plan"? Any increased ticket sales are good for the lottery, so why on earth would they want to stop someone from buying all combinations? Buying all ticket combinations is not illegal and there's no reason why it should be. It's not like having someone go out and buy every possible ticket is going to lose the lottery operator money - in fact quite the opposite.
Well, when the general public catches wind of this happening, they will buy fewer tickets and the overall revenue of the lottery would go down.
#34
03-05-2010, 06:10 AM
 StrangeBird Guest Join Date: Nov 2009 Posts: 203
Quote:
 Originally Posted by Keeve Ditto. For one measly dollar from my entertainment budget, I get a half-week worth of daydreaming. Much more bang-for-the-buck than a \$10 movie ticket, in my opinion.
I daydream about winning the lottery, too. I don't buy tickets, but I still manage to daydream about it. After all, my chances of winning are only 1 chance in 175,711,536 less than someone who does buy a ticket.
#35
03-05-2010, 08:56 AM
 shiftless Member Join Date: Aug 2007 Location: Virginia Posts: 4,264
Quote:
 Originally Posted by StrangeBird I daydream about winning the lottery, too. I don't buy tickets, but I still manage to daydream about it. After all, my chances of winning are only 1 chance in 175,711,536 less than someone who does buy a ticket.
I save my \$1 each week and daydream that one of my relatives wins the lottery. I may not get rich but the return on investment is great.

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