The % of Tickets sold on our Best Games to Play report is just an estimate, but a fairly accurate
We consider the top three prize levels to all be ‘top prizes’ because these are the biggest prizes for every game. Winning one of the top three prizes for any game will usually be a $1000 or more dollars and we consider that BIG $$.
The answer to this question comes down to two things:
- our algorithm
- the frequency of data collection
Our SmartFactor algorithm takes into account the detail of data we’re able to collect for each state. In the case of NY Lottery, we collect data two ways – by scraping it from the lottery website every day AND by submitting a freedom of information request on a regular basis. They do not publish the Est % of tickets sold through either of these data sources. But this is where the FREQUENCY of data collection becomes important.
The frequency of data collection allows us to gather and store the game data on a regular schedule in our database. We do not just look at the game data at one point in time. We collect it, store it, and use it over time. We’ve been doing this since 2011. The more data we collect over time the more confidence we have for our estimated % of tickets sold calculation.
We start by scraping the games from the website every day. This tells us when there are new games released. We then ask for the detailed prizes remaining through the freedom of information request (FOIA)
The FOIA report the NY Lottery sends out provides the total prizes paid and the total prizes unpaid for ALL prize levels for all games. With this information, our algorithm will work backward, using each games overall odds to calculate the total number of tickets printed. At that point, we have everything we need to determine the estimated % of tickets sold for the date of that FOIA Report.
We’ve invested a lot of time, energy and experience to automate this process and perform it every time we collect the data. By doing this over and over again, and tracking all of this data over time, we’ve become very accurate and confident with our Estimated % sold for NY lottery.
However, to be completely honest, the NY lottery is one of our toughest states for processing lottery data. Most states publish everything we need on their website. NY Lottery does not. For our analysis to work, we are not 100% automated. The FOIA step requires manual intervention in our automated processes. Because of this manual step in our process, we have a team of data stewards who focus on reviewing and validating the NY lottery data we collect every week.
Once in a while, we’ll repost a NY report when we catch an error. This has happened 3 times over the last 2 years, so we are not perfect. Even with our occasional ‘reposts’, we know we have the very best process and detailed data for NY Scratch-off games that anyone is going to get.
QUESTION: I don’t understand the Smart Factor for the games. For example: “In the money” and “Maximum Payout” are both $20.00 games. This week, “In the Money” has a SmartFactor of 1.628 while “Maximum Payout” has a 9.645 SmartFactor. Could you please explain?
The SmartFactor calculation is exactly like a card count when counting cards in Black Jack. Card counters keep track of the number of ‘good cards’ (aces, face cards & 10s) remaining in a deck as a deck is played over time. The higher the card count, the better the odds are of playing a hand and getting a 21 combination. In this case, the deck is considered “Hot”. The lower the card count, the lower the odds are of getting a 21 or blackjack combination. In this case, the deck is considered ‘cold’. Card counting only works because there is a set number of cards in play to begin with = 52 and only 4 aces, 4 kings, 4 queens, 4 Jacks, 4 tens etc. When the deck is first shuffled, there is an equal probability of getting any one of the cards,
However, as cards are played in each hand, players can count the number of cards dealt and can remove those from the probability of getting those cards in the next hand being played. Card counters simplify the count to being +1 or -1 for each of the best cards in the deck (Aces, Face Cards & 10s). To oversimplify this – every time they see a good card, they subtract 1 from the count. Every time they see a non-face card they add one to the count. The higher the count the ‘hotter’ the deck because it’s a better probability of getting a good card in the next deal.
Card counting at a blackjack table ONLY works over time, so you have to sit and observe the table AND it only works if you know the total number of decks of cards in play.
Well, the exact same concept counts for scratch-off games, except you don’t have to do any of the calculations OR sit at a table losing money until you figure out if the deck is hot or cold.
The SmartFactor IS the card count. We determine the total number of tickets printed by the data published on the lottery’s website. Then we track the number of prizes awarded over time. The proportion of Top Prizes remaining VS the Estimate Ticket sold gives us the SmartFactor rating. The higher the SmartFactor, the better the odds of winning a top prize have changed in your favor! The lower the SmartFactor rating, the worse your chances are of winning a top prize.
The key is to know the total number of tickets printed when the game starts. You can read about that here: https://www.scratchsmarter.com/total-number-of-tickets-printed/
This type of data is usually available on your states lottery website, in fact, this is some of the key data we use to generate our reports, however, this limited data and only provides you part of the analysis that ScratchSmarter Best Games to Play reports provide you.
The information for how many TOP prizes remaining exist for a particular game is available in Report #4 on your weekly subscription. This lists the total number of top prizes available for any active game in your state and is sorted from Highest number of top prizes remaining to lowest.
We think there’s a smarter way to buy tickets – it’s our SmartFactor rating where we calculate the prizes remaining for the top three prizes for every game vs the estimate total number tickets remaining. This calculation tells you, without a doubt, where the odds of winning a top prize has changed significantly in your favor. The SmartFactor rating is the critical formula for Report #1 and Report #2 in our Best Games to Play weekly analysis.
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*Denotes games that have been reordered or have been delivered to the Florida Lottery in more than one shipment.
Overall Ranking is our rating for which game is the best game to play this week.
On Report 1 the best game to play is #1, and it ranks down from there. The best game is the game with the HIGHEST SMARTFACTOR rating across all games.
On Report 2, we rank the best game by each price point – The best game is #1 and ranks down from there. The best game is the game with the HIGHEST SMARTFACTOR rating compared to all games at that same price.
Our SmartFactor is the results of our algorithm that calculates the proportion of top prizes remaining vs the total number of ticket sold. The higher the SmartFactor rating, the better the chances are of winning a top prize compared to when the game was initially released.
The Est % Sold is our calculation to show what total % of the tickets for that game have sold. Generally, the SmartFactor increases as the Est % sold also increases and top prizes remain unclaimed. However, it’s just as important to note when the SmartFactor goes down (below 1.0) because this means the odds of winning a top prize are WORSE than when the game was originally printed. This means more top prizes have been claimed than what would be expected for that game based on the estimated % of tickets sold.
Finally, it’s important to note that the higher the SmartFactor AND the Est % Sold values, the more difficulty you might have in finding that game, because the Lottery may pull that game from circulation early. You can read more about this dirty trick in our two articles:
This is a very valid concern, and it is a concern we hear from almost all of our new subscribers. It’s so common that we have two posts about it. Please read through these posts here: