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Well damn

StalinsNotDead (764374) writes | more than 6 years ago

User Journal 8

I play the lottery on occasion. I just checked my ticket from Wednesday's drawing and it turned out that all of my numbers were exactly one higher than the numbers from the drawing.

I'm not normally the kind of person to do the whole "well if only this number would have been different I would have won $X" thing.

So I share this infomration with a coworker. They respond "Wow. What're the odds of that happening?"

"Umm. The same odds as winning."

"Oh. That sucks."

I play the lottery on occasion. I just checked my ticket from Wednesday's drawing and it turned out that all of my numbers were exactly one higher than the numbers from the drawing.

I'm not normally the kind of person to do the whole "well if only this number would have been different I would have won $X" thing.

So I share this infomration with a coworker. They respond "Wow. What're the odds of that happening?"

"Umm. The same odds as winning."

"Oh. That sucks."

cancel ×

8 comments

Why I hate statistics (1)

Shadow Wrought (586631) | more than 6 years ago | (#23438014)

To my way of thinking the odds should actually be greater than the same. Picking the winning numbers say is x. Now you not only have pick x, but pick x with constraint y. To me that seems like it should be more difficult because you're now doing 2 thing instead of 1.

I'm not saying my way is mathematically correct (though I do sometimes deny a connection between statistcs and math other than a similar set of symbols), just that that is what makes sense to me.

Re:Why I hate statistics (1)

StalinsNotDead (764374) | more than 6 years ago | (#23438626)

I had a discussion about whether to go with Quick Pick or select your numbers.

I took the view that quick picks give you a lesser chance of winning because your relying on the same 6 six numbers getting selected randomly twice. Yeah, I know it's faulty logic, but that's my favorite kind in discussions like this.

But if you select and play the same numbers every week and forget once and your numbers do come up, I think one would be a trifle upset.

Re:Why I hate statistics (1)

RM6f9 (825298) | more than 6 years ago | (#23440492)

To do it right: Compare raw numbers, random/picked-their-own-numbers to winners-random/winners-picked-their-own-numbers.

Any real statistician is defined by their grumbling about the data universe being too small to be meaningful yet... (people who pick their own numbers are easily lost as noise to the random buyers...)

Re:Why I hate statistics (1)

tqft (619476) | more than 6 years ago | (#23488354)

hating statistics is easy - been doing it for years - the problem is that they are easy to calculate and people think they understand things like what an average is AND impute meaning.

My main beef with quick picks (even though I buy them coz I'm lazy) is that you do not necessarily get the full range of numbers you get N games at 6 numbers/game - but you won't necessarily get each number from 1 to 45 (or whatever it is) - it does happen here.

The moral: Never bet against the 2nd law of thermodynamics, always bet with it.

Re:Why I hate statistics (1)

StalinsNotDead (764374) | more than 6 years ago | (#23491804)

That's interesting. Where did you get the information about quick picks not giving you options from the full range of numbers?

Re:Why I hate statistics (1)

tqft (619476) | more than 6 years ago | (#23497404)

"about quick picks not giving you options from the full range of numbers"
Experience - checking the numbers drawn off and not finding it, happens infrequently for 24 game ticket for a 6 main and 2 supplementary number game, but go for a 12 game ticket - you can only expect (6+2)*12/45 of each number so not really surprising one of them isn't there occassionally.

It may be different where you are - different software for quick picking numbers from the operator of the game.

Splitting hairs (1)

weierstrass (669421) | more than 6 years ago | (#23441138)

I would say that the odds are exactly twice as much, since if the numbers that came up had been all one below your numbers, you would probably have been equally surprised.

Lotto cheating (1)

Short Circuit (52384) | more than 6 years ago | (#23444164)

My bio-dad once told me he'd written a program that analyzed the numbers that were coming up on the Michigan lotto (they had one of those televized things where a punch of plastic numbered balls would line up), and gave him enough good picks for small prizes that he was turning a profit.

As for the odds...with a good and secure random number generator, the likelyhood of any outcome is exactly the same as any other outcome with an identical number of digits. But I agree you can probably finagle your constraints and say "all digits have an equal offset from their corresponding winning digits." The chances of that particular constraint would be 19 times that of picking the winning number, for the nineteen different common offset values (which still isn't likely to be a large number.). After meeting that constraint, you have a whopping 1 in 19 chance of that offset being +1.

But, really, "What are the odds?" is a pointless question...Odds are only useful when you're trying to predict, or when you're making an excuse for not covering all the bases. What are the odds of you existing? Does the answer to that question have any value?
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