What are the Odds of Winning Powerball?

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I seldom ever gamble. It’s hard to gamble when you know statistically the odds are stacked against you. As they say in Vegas, the odds are always with the house.

It’s the same thing with Powerball.

In Powerball, you pick 5 numbers – called the white balls – ranging from 1 to 69. The order you pick the numbers does not matter. You then choose one red Powerball number, ranging from 1 to 26. Or, you can do a “quick pick” and let the machine pick your numbers. Each play will cost you $2 bucks.

You can then start dreaming…. Dreaming of how you’ll spend all that money, the cars you’ll buy, the new house for the family, clothes, jewelry…… the charities you’ll help…. Well, you get the picture. Dreamin’….

But then there’s the reality of what you just did.

According to the Florida Lottery, the odds of you getting the first 5 white balls in Powerball is 1 in 11,238,513. Throw in the red Powerball number and the odds jump to 1 in 292,201,338.

Statistically, it shouldn’t matter which numbers you pick. Each number has an equal chance of being pulled.

Or does it?

In the past 4 years, since Powerball changed their format, certain numbers have been drawn way more often. In fact, a lot more often. 

Since 2015 the number 32 has been drawn 28 more times than the number 35 (42 times vs 14 times). The number 23 has been drawn 41 times versus the number 26 which has been drawn 23 times.

Do you believe in patterns?

Most people do. Pattern recognition was key to our early survival in the wild and according to IQ test designers is a key determinant of a person’s ability to think logically, verbally, numerically, and spatially.

Ever been to Las Vegas? When people think a Black-Jack table is running cold, they get up and leave to find another table. They avoid what they perceive as a negative pattern.

A friend of mine, a banker, ignored this little rule in Vegas. He was a numbers guy and statistically a table just can’t run cold, or so he believed.

When the table ran cold, he refused to get up. He kept losing, alone at the table. They changed the dealer. They changed the deck. The dealer started trying to help (yes, they’ll do this). He just kept losing and losing and losing. Finally, the pit boss came over and said, “Sir, please— get up and leave.”

Still don’t believe in patterns?

Let’s look at what Powerball numbers have been drawn the most since 2015, the year they went from 59 to 69 white balls and reduced the Powerball red balls from 35 to 26?

For the white balls, the 12 most drawn numbers have been 32, 23, 61, 64, 69, 28, 3, 53, 63, 62, 20, and 41 (see illustration below).

For the red balls, the 12 most drawn numbers since 2015 have been 21, 24, 25, 3, 6, 13, 9, 10, 22, 26, 4, and 8.

Oh, but there’s more. You see, just because these numbers come up more often, it doesn’t mean they come up in combination with each other.

Another pattern we looked at were the combination of odd and even numbers.  Picking 3 odd numbered white balls, 2 even numbered white balls, and 1 odd numbered red ball gives you a much better chance of winning than any other combination.

Other patterns we looked at include: Most Overdue Numbers, Most Common Pairs, Most Common Triplets, Most Common Quadruplets, Most Consecutive Pairs, Consecutive Triplets, and Consecutive Quadruplets.

Lord, my head is spinning!

So, what numbers should you pick?

Your guess is probably as good as mine.

Just make sure you don’t spend your rent and grocery money on the lottery. Plan to lose. Because, more than likely you will lose. Remember what we said at the beginning of this article, the house always wins.

With that in mind, pick your numbers…….. and start dreamin’.

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