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  #1  
Old 03-03-2010, 08:34 AM
Dilton Doiley,Philosopher King Dilton Doiley,Philosopher King is offline
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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"?
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  #2  
Old 03-03-2010, 08:37 AM
CookingWithGas CookingWithGas is online now
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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".
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  #3  
Old 03-03-2010, 08:58 AM
don't ask don't ask is offline
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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%
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  #4  
Old 03-03-2010, 09:01 AM
Vorpal Blade Vorpal Blade is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by don't ask View Post
...This represents an improvement of

.00000512203166455910240060177%
Whoa! Buzzkill.
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  #5  
Old 03-03-2010, 09:22 AM
md2000 md2000 is offline
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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...
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  #6  
Old 03-03-2010, 09:46 AM
footballisplayedwithyourfeet footballisplayedwithyourfeet is offline
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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.
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  #7  
Old 03-03-2010, 10:42 AM
UncleFred UncleFred is offline
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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.
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  #8  
Old 03-03-2010, 10:52 AM
KneadToKnow KneadToKnow is offline
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I did the math and decided that my chances of winning the lottery were pretty much the same whether I played or not.
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  #9  
Old 03-03-2010, 10:59 AM
kayaker kayaker is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KneadToKnow View Post
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.
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  #10  
Old 03-03-2010, 11:38 AM
Lemur866 Lemur866 is online now
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[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.
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  #11  
Old 03-03-2010, 11:41 AM
Thudlow Boink Thudlow Boink is online now
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Is that better than getting a 300% raise at your volunteer no-pay job?
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  #12  
Old 03-03-2010, 12:05 PM
CandidGamera CandidGamera is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by don't ask View Post
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.
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  #13  
Old 03-03-2010, 12:09 PM
UncleFred UncleFred is offline
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Originally Posted by KneadToKnow View Post
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.
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  #14  
Old 03-03-2010, 12:15 PM
N9IWP N9IWP is offline
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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
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  #15  
Old 03-03-2010, 12:17 PM
The Flying Dutchman The Flying Dutchman is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by UncleFred View Post
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.
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  #16  
Old 03-03-2010, 12:49 PM
iamthewalrus(:3= iamthewalrus(:3= is offline
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Originally Posted by UncleFred View Post
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.
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  #17  
Old 03-03-2010, 01:24 PM
Lestrade Lestrade is offline
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Originally Posted by iamthewalrus(:3= View Post
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.
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  #18  
Old 03-03-2010, 01:30 PM
Lemur866 Lemur866 is online now
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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.
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  #19  
Old 03-03-2010, 01:31 PM
Interconnected Series of Tubes Interconnected Series of Tubes is offline
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Oh god, the sigfigs. THEY BURN!
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  #20  
Old 03-03-2010, 01:31 PM
CookingWithGas CookingWithGas is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The Flying Dutchman View Post
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.
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  #21  
Old 03-03-2010, 02:52 PM
davekhps davekhps is offline
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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.
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  #22  
Old 03-03-2010, 03:15 PM
SCSimmons SCSimmons is offline
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Originally Posted by davekhps View Post
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.
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  #23  
Old 03-03-2010, 03:33 PM
Arnold Winkelried Arnold Winkelried is offline
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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  
Old 03-03-2010, 03:58 PM
Keeve Keeve is offline
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Originally Posted by davekhps View Post
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.
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  #25  
Old 03-03-2010, 04:14 PM
AskNott AskNott is offline
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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?
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  #26  
Old 03-04-2010, 03:48 AM
Dereknocue67 Dereknocue67 is offline
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Originally Posted by KneadToKnow View Post
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.
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  #27  
Old 03-04-2010, 04:37 AM
Colophon Colophon is offline
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Originally Posted by Arnold Winkelried View Post
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.
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  #28  
Old 03-04-2010, 04:38 AM
si_blakely si_blakely is offline
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Originally Posted by AskNott View Post
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)
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  #29  
Old 03-04-2010, 07:54 AM
Lestrade Lestrade is offline
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Originally Posted by Lemur866 View Post
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.
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  #30  
Old 03-04-2010, 09:01 AM
Icarus Icarus is offline
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[Gump]Momma always said - you got a 50% chance of winning the lottery, either you win or you don't![/Gump]
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  #31  
Old 03-04-2010, 09:18 AM
Quartz Quartz is offline
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Count me in the lottery = entertainment column.
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  #32  
Old 03-04-2010, 09:19 AM
Lestrade Lestrade is offline
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Originally Posted by Icarus View Post
[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 09:21 AM..
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  #33  
Old 03-04-2010, 12:05 PM
Anthony N Anthony N is offline
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Originally Posted by Colophon View Post
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.
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  #34  
Old 03-05-2010, 05:10 AM
StrangeBird StrangeBird is offline
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Originally Posted by Keeve View Post
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.
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  #35  
Old 03-05-2010, 07:56 AM
shiftless shiftless is offline
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Originally Posted by StrangeBird View Post
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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