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(STLToday)   Man invests $23,000 in lottery "sure thing." Sure enough, he makes a 20 percent return. Here comes the explanation   ( divider line
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40257 clicks; posted to Main » on 07 Aug 2004 at 10:15 AM (13 years ago)   |   Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»

102 Comments     (+0 »)

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2004-08-07 08:40:08 AM  
That's really spiffy.
2004-08-07 08:50:43 AM  
I thought most lottery commisions put a cap on how much you could spend on any one jackpot, to prevent this sort of behaviour?

I remember a thread a LONG time ago (not long after that guy won the 300Mil or so) where people were posting stats about how you can do this very thing; and someone mentioned something like that.

But what do I know.
2004-08-07 09:28:34 AM  
the nearly impossible happens and this guy...who just happens to be paying attention at the right time...he beats the odds. he quickly figures out how to profit from the system and he beats the system. all this time...all those years wasting money on the lotto and he finally has a chance to send a little fark you to the system.. and HE WINS. He steps up to the plate and hit a homer...he gives us all hope that if we are patient and smart enough we too can make some easy money quick and laugh all the way to the bank...


and then reality kicks in and i read this line:
...." In the meantime, he's got plans for his winnings.

"We've got a company function this weekend in Las Vegas," he said. "I'm going to try to grow it a little more."

you poor dumb bastard.
2004-08-07 09:43:01 AM  
I bet he was doing his Ralph Kramden big schemer imitation instead of scheduling a termite inspection or a roof inspection for his house. Final bill? $2000.

Translation: the house always wins.
2004-08-07 09:43:40 AM  
2004-08-07 08:50:43 AM Shan [TotalFark]

I thought most lottery commisions put a cap on how much you could spend on any one jackpot, to prevent this sort of behaviour?

Well if you took 2 minutes out of your busy morning and RTFA you will see they actually mention that...

Even if a few millionaires had been savvy to the situation Thursday, the lottery has a safety valve in place, Goedde said. The machines that dispense the numbers have a limit on how many times a specific set of numbers can be sold.

For the Pick 3 game, the limit kicks in if the lottery would have to pay out more than $2 million to the winners.

sad part was that old boy couldn't wrassle up some more dough to make even more back. not that it would matter, genuis is gonna lose it with a double down anyways.
2004-08-07 10:25:56 AM  
One time a group of investors poured millions into a state Lotto (I seem to recall it was North Carolina?), because it was only 45 balls, and the jackpot was high, so the payout was bigger than the cost of covering every possible combination.

Trying to buy one of each combination was a logistical nightmare. They didn't manage to cover all of the numbers before the week was over, but they still won anyhow, and came out ahead.
2004-08-07 10:33:54 AM  
No need to put quotes around "sure thing". It was a sure thing. Whoever set up that promotion is an idiot.
2004-08-07 10:34:43 AM  
if i'm thinking about the same situation b1t r0t is refering to, IIRC, a group of investors bought all possible combinations. Knowing that if the jackpot was not claimed, it would go back into the pot...making it bigger....making more people want to buy tix....making it bigger for the next time. the group bought another set of all combinations for the following drawing. won, did not claim. made the pot even bigger. after 3 or 4 times of doing this they were running into some problems w/ lotto tix vendors who no longer wanted to sell them tix. they were scrambling to try and buy all possible combination tix. before the cut off point. they did not manage to buy all of em but when the numbers were drawn, they were lucky to have the tix. then claimed the big pot.
2004-08-07 10:37:36 AM  
Laslo enters a Frito-Lay sweepstakes "as often as you like."
ZAZ [TotalFark]
2004-08-07 10:39:17 AM  
I agree with the 1/7 chance that the orange ball will be the last one left.
2004-08-07 10:41:34 AM  
During the four-week promotion, the lottery also has a special drawing from a bag with seven balls in it - six white and one orange - that determines whether a second, bonus set of winning numbers will be drawn that day.

There is only one minor flaw in this "sure thing": the second number. If the second number drawn happens to be the same as the first number drawn, then you've lost 40% of your investment. Of course, there is only a 1/1000000th of a chance that would happen.


2004-08-07 10:42:52 AM  
The odds are 1/7 on the orange ball.

The probability is that it will happen on the 4th, maybe 5th, go-round.
ZAZ [TotalFark]
2004-08-07 10:43:26 AM  

2004-08-07 10:46:40 AM  

Are you so sure? Take a thousand balls and pick one. Throw that ball back. Now pick another ball. What is the chance that you picked up the same ball again? 1,000 times 1,000 is 1,000,000. Any statistics people care to comment?

2004-08-07 10:50:54 AM  
I think the odds that the second number will be same as first is 1/1000.

Let's say the first number is 328. What are the odds the second number picked will also be 328? Well there are 1,000 possible numbers, and 328 is one of them, so the odds are 1 in 1,000.
ZAZ [TotalFark]
2004-08-07 10:51:21 AM  
The chance of picking 193 twice is 1 in a million, but there are a thousand numbers to be picked twice so the chance of any duplicate is 1 in a thousand.
2004-08-07 10:54:21 AM  
After paying taxes on the $23,000 and splitting ther profit amongst themselves, how much did each person actually win? It sounds like they spent nearly an entire 24 hours working on it (skip work?). Hardly sounds worth it, but kudos to them.
2004-08-07 10:54:50 AM  
It really depends on how you want to look at it pshaw.
2004-08-07 10:56:10 AM  
No, that's the probability of any ONE combination of two occuring. 1 in 1000 is the probability of ANY combination of two occuring.
2004-08-07 10:57:50 AM  

No need to put quotes around "sure thing". It was a sure thing. Whoever set up that promotion is an idiot.

It was only a sure thing that day.

The odds of it happening are 1/7, 1/6, 1/5... to 1/1. If it's picked before day 7, the odds become 0/n for the remaining days. The likelihood is that it would be picked before day seven (no replacement).
2004-08-07 10:58:10 AM  
something that I dont get is if the person or person invested 23000 bucks and they make it sound like winning back 4600 was the greatest. aren't they still out 18400 bucks.

how is that not dumbass tag worthy.

am i not seeing something?
2004-08-07 11:00:26 AM  
I usually look at it till I convince everyone that I am always right.

/not conceited at all
2004-08-07 11:05:16 AM

They spent $23000. They won $27600. Net gain $4600.

However, CaptStubing brings up a good point. What are the tax implications? I think the feds take 25% of lottery winnings over $1200, or something like that. Gambling losses can be written off, and each non-winning ticket is a $1 gambling loss. I'm not sure how much in gambling losses can be written off by one person, but I do not think it is very much.
2004-08-07 11:07:19 AM, I think they got that from the fact that they won $1200 (600 for the normal drawing and 600 for the bonus one) for each $1000 they spent, so they made $200 profit * 23. That's where the $4600 comes from.
2004-08-07 11:08:08 AM

$4'600 is profit (revenue minus cost). They made that on top of the $23'000 they spent (I think they are only taxed on the $4'600 though). To realize any worthwhile profit, you'd have to spend large amounts of money. Not even $25'000, but more. $100'000 and greater. Of course, if you have that kind of money and time, do you really need to do something this stupid?

The odds of the same numbers being picked are 1/1'000. The odds of a specific number being picked twice are 1/1'000*1'000 or 1/1'000'000.
2004-08-07 11:09:33 AM  
I agree CaptStubing, a LOT of man-hours will have gone into manually filling out each of those slips, and I doubt it was the most enjoyable day's work for those guys. Not to mention actually submitting all the slips - it annoys the hell out of me when I'm waiting to buy some cigarettes and someone is in front of me buying a dozen or so tickets ... if that person in front opened up a briefcase of those damn slips I'd freak.
2004-08-07 11:10:42 AM  
Good on him! I hope he invests his winnings wisely!
2004-08-07 11:17:22 AM  

You'd probably only have to fill out 1'000 slips (3'000 or so might be most efficient with 6 people).

You can reuse lottery slips.

Can't you?
2004-08-07 11:24:19 AM  
probability of a pick three combination happening twice is far less than 1 in 1000, if they draw the balls individually:


i think.
2004-08-07 11:26:45 AM  
The odds of any particular set of duplicates is 1 : 1000000, but the odds that they ARE dublicates is 1:1000 because what the first ball is does not matter, so long as it is returned to the pool.
2004-08-07 11:35:14 AM  
It would have been great if he didn't have enough time to get all of the slips in and we were reading about some guy who had every combination but one and lost $23,000.
2004-08-07 11:36:23 AM  
Statistics lesson:

3 balls in three separate chambers. Balls are numbered 0-9 (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, and 0).

The chances of any number being pick in each chamber is 1/10. The chances of any combination of three numbers is 1. The chances of a specific combination of three numbers is 1/10 * 1/10 * 1/10 or 1/1000.

Now comes the math:

Chance of any two 3-number combinations being picked: 1 * 1 = 1.
Chances of picking two 3-number combinations that are the same: 1 * 1/1000 = 1/1000.
Chances of picking a specific set of 3-numbers twice: 1/1000 * 1/1000 = 1/1'000'000.
2004-08-07 11:38:41 AM  
Regarding the any two combinations:

In this case it was 1 as the the number of balls left in the bonus chamber was 1. Otherwise it's 1/n * 1 * 1 = 1/n.
2004-08-07 11:41:41 AM  
rabit, zaz.. correct.. verified by an actuary.. good job.
2004-08-07 11:43:51 AM  
However, CaptStubing brings up a good point. What are the tax implications? I think the feds take 25% of lottery winnings over $1200, or something like that. Gambling losses can be written off, and each non-winning ticket is a $1 gambling loss. I'm not sure how much in gambling losses can be written off by one person, but I do not think it is very much.

Yes, but the IRS will never know if one person is cashing in multiple tickets each worth less than the taxable winnings limit ($1200) that will add up to be more than the limit. If he had one ticket worth the $4600 he made, he'd be taxed, but because he spread the wealth around a little, he gets off easy. Unless, of course, that the Feds catch wind of this high-profile maneuver and actaully get him for the money he owes. But then I guess he could always claim that it was split between he and his associates and again be scott free

/run-on run-on
2004-08-07 11:43:56 AM  
pixelpile -- That's stupid. He would have only lost $22,999.
2004-08-07 11:43:57 AM  
you guys should take some statistic and differential equation classes.. Your choices become unbelievable profitable as your life slowly becomes a giant statistic.

f'n shoot me.
2004-08-07 11:46:25 AM  

Chances of picking a specific set of 3-numbers twice: 1/1000 * 1/1000 = 1/1'000'000.

Yes, this is true, but his odds of getting the second set of numbers (where he could have potentially been farked) was only 1/1000 because it didn't matter which set hit first, it only matter that the second set matched the first.
2004-08-07 11:48:53 AM  
Seidel and his 3 friends make $4,600. (They all probably invested in the scheme disproportionately). However, assuming that each one invested 1/4 of the $23,000, then each one made $1,150 for their efforts (before taxes). Not bad for one day's *work*.
2004-08-07 11:50:03 AM  
I didnt know there was a "sure thing" when it comes to the lottery. I used to work a job where I had to run a lotto machine, and that thing seriously brought out the crazies. every person in the town thought they had a system to "beating" the lottery, I even got wrapped up in it for a little while after I thought I discovered a pattern in the Pick 3's and 4's.....I wasted a lot of money before I realized it was BS. I am now less a man because of it.

/damn you, lotto.....damn you...
2004-08-07 11:53:37 AM  

True. I'm aware.

The last case only would matter if they purchased a single ticket to win twice.

Their chances of winning were 1. No matter what came up (even if it was the same number) they won twice.

If it was the same number they be more farked for taxes ($1'200). But that's about it.

The only risk, beyond failing to fill out all the numbers, was the extreme longshot that the same three-digit number was drawn in both the regular game and the bonus drawing. It was unclear whether that would result in a double payout or not.

It's not an extreme longshot (1/1'000), but I doubt they'd not be paid twice.
2004-08-07 12:02:34 PM  
president toonces

pixelpile -- That's stupid. He would have only lost $22,999.

Actually, $22,977
2004-08-07 12:03:35 PM  
2004-08-07 12:03:44 PM  
Yes the odds of getting the same number on both drawings is 1/1000. He odds of drawing ANY number the first time is 1 outta 1. 100% chance. The odds of drawing that same number on the second drawing is 1/1000. However, say you wanted a specific number, ex. 323, drawn twice. Then, the odds of drawing 323 the first time is 1/1000 and the odds of a second time is 1/1000 for a combined odds of 1/1000,000.
2004-08-07 12:05:28 PM  
I don't understand why they wrote out all the combinations by hand.

Why not just generate a list of all the numbers on the computer, and cut them up? I mean, the clerk might look a bit weird if you buy 50 tickets sequentially numbered, but at least then you know you aren't gonna miss one due to stupid human error of being too tired while writing the damn things out by hand...

/just sayin'.
2004-08-07 12:14:55 PM  
My incredibly intricate system, which I just lost because I forgot that Fark has a preview-post option now, and which I refuse to retype, predicts that the orange ball will be drawn last once for every 28 days that this promotion runs. And the article said this was a 4 week promotion. So the odds are that this scenario will present itself once every time this promotion happens.

Hmm...what state is this in again? I might need to make a road trip soon...
2004-08-07 12:18:35 PM  
Yes, the little number pick slips can be fed into the machine "as often as you like."
2004-08-07 12:25:08 PM  

The betting slips are like what we used to call "mark sense" cards. You know, like the "Bring a #2 pencil to the test. Completely fill in the correct answer box." thing, only now you only need to make any mark in the box.

The clerk puts the bet slip in the machine and it gets read, makes the bet, and prints the lottery ticket. The clerks don't usually enter the bet unless it's a small order.

They has a good reason to mark the slips themselves - to avoid an error. It would have been a biatch if the numbers that won were not bet due to a typo.
2004-08-07 12:30:47 PM  
CaptStubing and Pavia_Resistance brought up fond memories of my misspent youth. Unless they've changed the tax code, which they probably have, you basically MUST pay tax on any winnings over three hundred dollars per dollar invested. So if you buy one ticket and win the six hundred, you are farked by the tax-man. This works equally if you buy all thousand, since they only count the amount you paid on the winning bet, BUT you can write off losing tickets up to the amount of the winnings. This means, basically, that these people (article didn't say how many there were) will pay tax on tickets that won $1200 per two dollar bet (I think) but can write off enough losers to get a tax refund. Shouldn't have to pay Federal tax at all, but local stuff is a different matter.

Glad so many got the math right. Maybe the American educational system isn't as far into the toilet as I thought. Uh, you are Americans, right?

Here's a statistics puzzler: everyone has to be somewhere, and so here we are, but given the many, many choices we have made throughout our lives -- turning left when we might as easily have turned right, eating that too-old burrito and spending more time in the bathroom than we otherwise might, avoiding this accident or getting into that one, and so forth -- what are the actual odds that any one of us is actually where we are, right now?

/I am convinced, personally, that I am always somewhere else.
2004-08-07 12:37:15 PM  
If I had $23,000 to fark with, I'd play poker, not the damn lottery.
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