For a few years now, I’ve been running a lottery pool for my coworkers.  Whenever the powerball gets over a hundred million, we play.  Everyone puts in five bucks for each drawing.  To date, the most we’ve ever won at one time is $100.


I while back, I stumbled across a website claiming to sell winning strategies for picking powerball numbers.  Of course, I was skeptical.  I doubt things, it’s part of who I am.  I started reading the website, and their selling point only works if you follow their train of logic.  The first thing they want to you to decide is whether or not you should be playing the lottery.  If the total prize wont make a difference in your finances, then there’s no point in playing the lottery.  Well, the minimum prize in this particular game is 15 million.  That would definitely make a difference in my finances, as it would for probably 95% of the population.  If the cost of a ticket, (usually a dollar), will severely hamper your financial status, you shouldn’t be playing.  Well, a dollar wont make or break my bank account.  Most likely, most of the population wouldn’t suffer from losing one dollar, either.  So the minimal cost, versus the potential payoff, according to this logic, make you seem foolish if you don’t play.  Now that they’ve convinced the lesser intelligent people that they should be playing the lottery, they move on to the second point.


They claim that, of all the people that win the powerball, half of them pick their own numbers.  Leaving the other half to have used the quick pick option.  Of all the people that play, not just the winners, closer to 80% use quick picks, leaving only 20% that pick their own numbers.  Why are 20% of the people that play this game winning 50% of the money?


So, to this point, by their logic, the average person should be playing the lottery, and also picking their own numbers.  But what numbers?  What if someone had an advantage?  Knew what numbers stood a better chance of winning?  You certainly don’t want to play a set of numbers that have already won.  For a, (I think), one time fee of $25, you get access to a database of numbers.  You can find out the benefits of odd vs. even numbers.  (I don’t believe it matters)  You can find out if the collection of birthdays and anniversary dates you’ve been using has ever won before.  You can see which numbers get drawn most often.  You’ll have an advantage on the game that only a select few get.  (Those that are dumb enough to pay for it)


The more I read of it, the more I was shocked that anyone would believe this stuff, let alone pay money for information they could easily get for free.  The powerball website, as with most lottery websites, has all the winning numbers for the entire history of the game available to anyone that cares to look.  A few minutes copy and paste in excel gave me a database that shows me the most common numbers.  Some are way more common than others, but to say that that’s an advantage would be wrong.  This particular game has been going since November of 1997.  With two drawings a week, for 11 years, that’s about 1100 or 1200 drawings total.  There are something like 16 billion or more possible combinations of numbers, and we’ve only got 1200 or so to pull data from.  That’s about .00001%, and that’s only if you don’t consider the possibility of the same set of numbers winning twice.


M y first thought was to write these guys and ask if anyone actually paid them for this service.  My next thought was to start my own website selling the exact same data for less.  Make it a recurring monthly bill for like $2.99 or something.  Even if people stop using it, they’re likely to forget to cancel it, since it’s such a small amount of money.  Then, I decided I was too lazy to bother with it.  Plus, it’s just preying on the stupid.  I suppose, after a while, my conscience would get to me.

Uploaded 09/29/2008
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