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Old 11th September 2018, 05:36 AM   #1
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The man who won the lottery 14 times

He didn't make as much money as you'd think, winning 14 times.


The man who won the lottery 14 times


How a rogue Romanian economist legally gamed the lottery and won millions of dollars around the world.
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Old 11th September 2018, 07:46 AM   #2
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Computer-printed tickets in the 1970s and 1980? And in an Eastern European country? I don't think so ...
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Old 11th September 2018, 10:17 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by dann View Post
Computer-printed tickets in the 1970s and 1980? And in an Eastern European country? I don't think so ...
He moved to Aus and then hit the USA market for the big wins. I do have reservations about this (especially 'writing millions of combinations by hand', pre-computers) but it's very widely reported.
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Old 14th September 2018, 10:36 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by GlennB View Post
He moved to Aus and then hit the USA market for the big wins. I do have reservations about this (especially 'writing millions of combinations by hand', pre-computers) but it's very widely reported.
All I had to read was this:

Quote:
This is the story of the man who “gamed” the lottery by buying every possible combination.
This is not called gaming the lottery, it's called throwing away your money. Back in the 1990s as a finance guy, I figured out that a $1 ticket in the Arizona Lottery had a present value of 20 cents. Minus the cost of a buck means the net present value is -80 cents. Now it is true that as the lottery jackpot grows so does the net present value.

But so does another factor--the number of other players participating. Whenever the jackpot gets sufficiently high, more players are attracted to the lottery by the better odds. So the chance that somebody will hit the jackpot increases, but so does the chance that two or more people will win, splitting the prize and lowering the NPV for each winner.
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Old 14th September 2018, 10:56 PM   #5
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I live in Melbourne and I would have thought I had heard of him before now. But there are plenty of reports about him going back many years, so it’s likely true.
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Old 15th September 2018, 01:32 AM   #6
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And a few more paragraphs in comes this pitch:

Quote:
Using the algorithm, Mandel claimed he could accurately predict 5 of the 6 winning numbers, reducing the number of combinations in a lottery from millions to mere thousands. With a band of friends and acquaintances, he took a big risk and purchased large blocks of lottery tickets with the combinations his formula has deemed to be most likely.
Unless Mandel had some sort of data that indicated that there was something wrong with the randomness of the drawings, there is approximately a 0.00% chance that he cold really predict 5 of the 6 numbers.
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Old 15th September 2018, 03:08 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by Brainster View Post
......Unless Mandel had some sort of data that indicated that there was something wrong with the randomness of the drawings, there is approximately a 0.00% chance that he cold really predict 5 of the 6 numbers.
No, I think you're misunderstanding what his claim was. He wasn't claiming to predict the draw, but to cover all the possible permutations of 5 numbers, leaving the 6th number to chance.
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Old 15th September 2018, 03:24 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by MikeG View Post
No, I think you're misunderstanding what his claim was. He wasn't claiming to predict the draw, but to cover all the possible permutations of 5 numbers, leaving the 6th number to chance.
That does not beat statistical randomness and in no way increases the expected payout over all games he plays. If what you say captures accurately his message, AND if he claims to have had returns of more than 1 buck per 1 buck paid on tickets, then the story is a hoax.
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Old 15th September 2018, 03:51 AM   #9
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Old 15th September 2018, 04:11 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by Oystein View Post
That does not beat statistical randomness and in no way increases the expected payout over all games he plays. If what you say captures accurately his message, AND if he claims to have had returns of more than 1 buck per 1 buck paid on tickets, then the story is a hoax.
I think you should read the article.

I read it a week ago, so this is from memory, but I believe he claimed to have used this method with his first lottery, and thereafter aimed at printing every single permutation available, not just 5 out of 6. Five out of six, of course, gets a substantial payout, so he had effectively given himself a 1 in 40 (ish) chance of winning the main payout, at the cost of hundreds of thousands, but with a guaranteed return of whatever the second prize was.
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Old 15th September 2018, 04:16 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by MikeG View Post
No, I think you're misunderstanding what his claim was. He wasn't claiming to predict the draw, but to cover all the possible permutations of 5 numbers, leaving the 6th number to chance.
This.

As a teenager, I spent two summers of my life writing out the possible combinations when Arizona first got the lottery. I was convinced it could be done; and won a few people to my thinking when I was able to show them my work.

The confusion comes, I think, when trying to explain that each number can only be drawn ONCE, so working out the combinations for the possible winners is exactly the same as working out all the phone numbers in a particular calling area; you only need to change one digit each time:

1 2 3 4 5 6
1 2 3 4 5 7
1 2 3 4 5 8
1 2 3 4 5 9

1 2 3 4 6 7
1 2 3 4 6 8
1 2 3 4 6 9

1 2 3 4 7 8
1 2 3 4 7 9
… and so forth

But, it would still cost thousands to buy enough tickets to cover the possibilities, and if you split the win with just one other, you've likely lost money.

That said, if I ever win the lottery, there's a better-than-even chance I'll drop a chunk of my winnings on another lottery if I think the payout is big enough to be worth the gamble.
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Old 15th September 2018, 04:54 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by DragonLady View Post
That said, if I ever win the lottery, there's a better-than-even chance I'll drop a chunk of my winnings on another lottery if I think the payout is big enough to be worth the gamble.
If I ever win the lottery I will drop all of my winnings on another lottery, and keep doing so until I have 'won' 14 times!
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Old 15th September 2018, 05:00 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by Roger Ramjets View Post
If I ever win the lottery I will drop all of my winnings on another lottery, and keep doing so until I have 'won' 14 times!
You've changed my mind! If I ever win the lottery, I will probably put up a chunk of my winnings as a prize for another lottery...and sell tickets.
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Old 15th September 2018, 11:50 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by MikeG View Post
No, I think you're misunderstanding what his claim was. He wasn't claiming to predict the draw, but to cover all the possible permutations of 5 numbers, leaving the 6th number to chance.
That is not at all what is indicated in the article. In the case of the Virginia lottery (the only one described in any detail) they actually tried to buy every possible combination of numbers. According to the article they ultimately failed in that attempt, only covering about 5.5 million of the 7 million possible combinations, so they actually got a bit lucky.

The guy is definitely a con artist. For starters he was telling investors that they were going to get a 6x return on their investment if they have the only winning numbers. In the case of the Virginia lottery, though, apparently they won about $12 million on an investment of about $6 million. A good return certainly, but nowhere near 6x, and they were very much at risk of losing, or just breaking even if there had been a second winner on the jackpot.

He also basically absconded with most of the money rather than building on this success to develop a lottery-winning machine.
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Old 16th September 2018, 01:07 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by MikeG View Post
I think you should read the article.

I read it a week ago, so this is from memory, but I believe he claimed to have used this method with his first lottery, and thereafter aimed at printing every single permutation available, not just 5 out of 6. Five out of six, of course, gets a substantial payout, so he had effectively given himself a 1 in 40 (ish) chance of winning the main payout, at the cost of hundreds of thousands, but with a guaranteed return of whatever the second prize was.
Yes, and you pay FAR more for all these tickets than you win on the second price - and this per the design of how much the 2nd price pays out - plus all the 3rd, 4th etc prices. The you still have only a 1 in 10 chance to win 1st price, and on average you lose money.
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Old 16th September 2018, 01:14 AM   #16
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The only way to guatantee a win is if and when jackpots amount to more than the price of all possible tickets, but no lottery is foolish enough to allow for that. The Eurojackpot, for example has a 1 in 140 million or so probability for 1st price, but the Jackpot is capped at 90 million. The difference, 50 million roundabout, is far more than all the collateral 2nd, 3rd 4th prices net you, so you lose.
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Old 16th September 2018, 01:34 AM   #17
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Originally Posted by Brainster View Post
That is not at all what is indicated in the article.
Yes it is.

Quote:
In the case of the Virginia lottery (the only one described in any detail) they actually tried to buy every possible combination of numbers.......
Which is what I said, but not what you were claiming originally.
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Old 16th September 2018, 01:36 AM   #18
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Originally Posted by Oystein View Post
Yes, and you pay FAR more for all these tickets than you win on the second price - and this per the design of how much the 2nd price pays out - plus all the 3rd, 4th etc prices. The you still have only a 1 in 10 chance to win 1st price, and on average you lose money.
This was why he only attempted to play when there was a mega roll-over.
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Old 19th September 2018, 01:48 AM   #19
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Originally Posted by MikeG View Post
Yes it is.



Which is what I said, but not what you were claiming originally.
This is from the original article:

Quote:
Using the algorithm, Mandel claimed he could accurately predict 5 of the 6 winning numbers, reducing the number of combinations in a lottery from millions to mere thousands. With a band of friends and acquaintances, he took a big risk and purchased large blocks of lottery tickets with the combinations his formula has deemed to be most likely.
Again, supposedly reducing the number of combinations from millions to thousands. That part is total BS on the part of Mandel; that is not remotely what he did. I think it's included in the article either out of financial naivete on the part of the writer, or perhaps as a hook to the somewhat more mundane story of buying every ticket.
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Old 23rd September 2018, 02:42 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by Oystein View Post
The only way to guatantee a win is if and when jackpots amount to more than the price of all possible tickets, but no lottery is foolish enough to allow for that. The Eurojackpot, for example has a 1 in 140 million or so probability for 1st price, but the Jackpot is capped at 90 million. The difference, 50 million roundabout, is far more than all the collateral 2nd, 3rd 4th prices net you, so you lose.
Powerball jackpots in America sometimes exceed the price of all possible tickets. Price of a ticket is $2, odds of winning are 1 in 292,201,338.00 and there has been at least one jackpot of over a billion dollars.
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Old 24th September 2018, 11:40 AM   #21
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Originally Posted by Fudbucker View Post
Powerball jackpots in America sometimes exceed the price of all possible tickets. Price of a ticket is $2, odds of winning are 1 in 292,201,338.00 and there has been at least one jackpot of over a billion dollars.
Yeah, the prize regularly goes up to "Technically worth buying a ticket" on a fairly regular basis for Powerball and Mega Millions, especially once you figure in the lesser secondary prizes you would win buy buying every combination. The problems now are the logistics of buying over a quarter of a billion tickets, and being sure that you would be the only winner (more of a problem since a lot of people buy more tickets "when it's worth it").
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Old 25th September 2018, 09:27 AM   #22
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Originally Posted by Random View Post
Yeah, the prize regularly goes up to "Technically worth buying a ticket" on a fairly regular basis for Powerball and Mega Millions, especially once you figure in the lesser secondary prizes you would win buy buying every combination. The problems now are the logistics of buying over a quarter of a billion tickets, and being sure that you would be the only winner (more of a problem since a lot of people buy more tickets "when it's worth it").
Funny enough, I did a basic probability calculation on both not long ago: figured the odds for each prize level times the amount of the prize to get expected return. I didn't account for multiple winners of the jackpot, of course, but I did find one interesting tidbit: Your expected return goes down if you buy the multiplier on the ticket (the one that lets you get the biggest jackpot). IIRC, it was something like 1 in 200 million overall for a regular ticket, and closer to 1 in 300-350 million for the "bonus plus super multiplier" ticket, due to the added ticket cost.

ETA: Of course, since without the multiplier you cap at a smaller jackpot (IIRC, to get the progressive big win you have to have it), the only way to get a positive expected return is to buy it with that.

Last edited by Hellbound; 25th September 2018 at 09:29 AM.
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