Are the lottery odds ever in your favor? If you know the top prize, you should use Excel to figure out the lottery probability and find out if it's worth buying a ticket.
While the lottery is never a "good bet" mathematically, periodically it's better than others. In fact, you will find times when the lottery odds are to your benefit. With Excel, one can possibly calculate lottery probability and find out exactly what your chances are of winning. First, consider an example.
Problem: The Super Lotto jackpot is $8 million this week. Should you play?
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Strategy: It depends how many numbers come in the game. You need to determine the amount of possible combinations there are in the game. You can use the COMBIN function to find out the amount of combinations by selecting six numbers out of a group of 40.
1) Set up a spreadsheet with the quantity of balls with your lotto game in cell C2.
2) Identify how many numbers you have to select correctly in cell D2.
3) Enter the formula =COMBIN(C2,D2) in cell E2, as shown in Fig. 451. (Click image for a larger view.)
If your state lottery game requires that you select six numbers beyond 40, then the odds against you winning are 3.83 million to 1. For a $1 bet plus an $8 million payout, the odds are on your behalf.
For a game with 44 numbers, the odds are 7 million to 1. This payoff is just slightly on your side.
For games with 48 or 54 numbers, the payout just isn't worth the long odds of the action.
Additional Information: COMBIN figures combinations. Here, the sequence the location where the balls are drawn in is not relevant. If you had a game where you had to match both the numbers and the order in which they were drawn, then you would want to use the PERMUT function to more info find the number of permutations of drawing six numbers in sequence out of 40.
Summary: Use the COMBIN or PERMUT functions for figuring the number of combinations or permutations.
Functions Discussed: =COMBIN(); =PERMUT()
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