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I noticed that in the New York lottery scratch off games sold is not available at all through the website or freedom of information act. How do you calculate the estimated % sold?

The answer to this question comes down to two things:

  1. our algorithm
  2. 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 They do not publish the Est % of tickets sold through either of these data sources.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.

I don’t understand the Smart Factor for the games. Could you please explain?

 

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/

How can I check to see how many winners have won in a certain game and how many winners are left?

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.

Get your report today!  https://www.scratchsmarter.com/shop

 

The #1 ranked game this week is also marked as reprinted on the state website. Do you consider this information in your calculations? Wouldn’t printed more tickets worsen the odds? Thanks!

We definitely see what you’re stating.  The FL lottery website has an asterisk next to game #  1339 –  $10,000,000 World Class CASH
 
Looking at their defining on the asterisk below states: 

*Denotes games that have been reordered or have been delivered to the Florida Lottery in more than one shipment.

I’m underlining the second half of that statement because it isn’t truly a definition for a reprint if there is another possible meaning.  This is just another SNEAKY SNEAKY TRICK that the lotteries play to try to minimize their risk in having to pay out top prizes.
We do not go by FL lotteries indication (their asterisk) for identifying reprints.
ScratchSmarter independently tracks ‘reprints’ by tracking when the lottery changes the number of top prizes remaining.  For example, if one week we see the number of $1,000,000 top prizes for a game = 2 and the next week it goes up to 7, we automatically flag is as a reprint.
I would venture to guess that the game above has been ordered as a print job in multiple printings.  This means that the FL lottery has requested that their scratch-off game vendor physically print the tickets in several batches.  Most times the tickets are all printed in one batch and then distributed.  In this case, they ordered one game in multiple batches and asked for delivery of the games to their warehouse in multiple shipments after each printing.  The game specifications for the odds haven’t changed because they ordered a set number of tickets (for example 20 million tickets) with the odds being fixed over those 20 Million tickets.  A reprint is when the total number of tickets has doubled, but so has the total number of prizes.

Is overall ranking mean that game is the best one to buy? Also – est. % sold is a high number – is that good or bad????

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:

Can’t Find the Top Game?

Buyer beware- Lottery’s dirty trick

 

 

I don’t understand why you show games that are no longer available or others that are. For example Massachusetts scratch 10 ticket $200,000 year for life and The Fastest Way To AMillion. Makes me wonder if your site is even accurate.

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:

and here:
We also have several other good posts you can find here:
https://www.scratchsmarter.com/info/
Now, specifically to the question about Massachusetts lottery. As of the date this question was posted, we do have these games on our report, because the Mass Lottery still publishes data on their website about these games.
If a retailer were still selling either of these games anywhere in Mass, we would be amiss for not reporting our analysis on these games. So, just because you cannot find these games at your local retailer, it doesn’t mean they aren’t available somewhere in your state.
We do, however, have some very specific information about the Mass lottery that will be interesting for you to know.
1) the Mass Lottery does not keep all of its game data in ONE database.
EVERY OTHER STATE where we generate a Best Games to Play Report, as far as we can tell, has standardized the data about every one of their scratch off games into a central database where they track all of the data on each game and publish their selecting information out to their website. Mass Lottery DOES NOT operate this way. We have documented email correspondence from them that shows that they keep all of their game data separate from other games. When they update their website, we believe it is done in a highly manual way.
2) When we submit a Freedom of Information request to the Mass Lottery for game details, they have to pull together, manually, a game liability report.
“Liablity” means they are still liable for these games in the market place. So, if they report the game to us, we have to assume that it is still for sale somewhere in Massacheusetts. When we order an updated liability report from them, it takes up to 3-4 weeks for them to manually compile the information.  We don’t track where all games are sold.  We only report on games the state published data about.
3) We only use the Lottery website as a trusted source for “GAMES ENDED”.
Each state publishes the end date for games differently. Mass Lottery publishes almost NO data about games ended. We request this in our Freedom of Information Requests reports from them, but even then, they’re very poor in reporting the end dates of games.
We can only theorize that they are either very disorganized, being deceitful, or they don’t have standard terms or operating procedures for all of their games. (personally, I believe it is a little bit of all of these reasons).
This is why, we think, their website is so inconsistent in how it publishes game data vs all other state lottery websites where we gather data. We have seen some news stories that claim the Mass Lottery has pulled or ‘ended’ games, but until they publish this data on their website, we cannot take a third party’s update on games, even if the source is a reputable news station. This would open us up to having to make judgement calls on ‘who says what games are still in play’.
4) We do the absolute BEST WE CAN with the inconsistencies in the Mass Lottery website. Our challenges with the Mass Lottery have plagued us since we started ScratchSmarter and we’ve considered dropping this report from our portfolio multiple times. However, every time we talk with Mass ScratchSmarter subscribers, they have begged us to continue our efforts because, as they say “we help clarify the confusion” that is the Mass Lottery.

How can you accurately estimate the number of tickets SOLD since that is not published on my lottery’s site?

This answer depends on the data published on your lottery’s website.  Most lottery websites do not publish the amount of tickets sold.
We’ll use the Arizona Lottery as an example of how we can work calculate the number of tickets sold.
———————-
We are able to track how many tickets have sold based on three key data points that the AZ lottery DOES publish:
1) The AZ Lottery provides the total number of prizes remaining at all prize points (from the top prize down to the lowest prize). For example for $1 Decade of Dollars, there are currently 668,067 $1 prizes left on 5/3/18.
2) The AZ lottery publishes the DETAILED odds for every Price Point. For the same game, the odds of winning $1 is 1:8.   This is a fixed value at the time they create the game and doesn’t change over time.  But the prizes remaining does change from day to day.
3) The third data point is WHEN they publish this data.  This is the data point I can’t show you – it is our CODE that scrapes the data from the lottery EVERY SINGLE DAY.  On the first day that a game is published, the first day we scrape it, the PRIZES REMAINING for each prize point would be the MAXIMUM number of prizes.
On the first day, (for example only), the prizes remaining for winning $1 may have been 800,000 tickets.   We multiply the detailed odds times the PRIZES remaining – that gives us the total number of tickets printed. For just the $1 prize, it would have been 8*800,000 =6,400,000 tickets because the odds are 1:8 and the total prizes remaining on day 1 = 800,000.
We store that number in our database.
Then, each and every day, we re-scrape the PRIZES REMAINING posted on the AZ website, do the calculations and compare that to the original total number of tickets printed.  This gives us the Estimated % sold on any given day, directly from data on the AZ Lottery website.
NOTE – We have to do this differently for each state lottery based on the data they do provide.  For your state, we may have to provide a different method to get to the estimate % sold, but the facts are the same – a combination of data provided by the lottery website, combined with daily data mining and data analysis helps our customers get deeper analysis on picking the very best game!

If a game is not on the report, am I to assume it is red?

There are two main reasons why a game may not be on our report.

  • The game is brand new and our scraping code just hasn’t picked it up yet.  Please wait until the next weeks report to see if it shows up.   Most new games end up with a SmartFactor rating of 1.0.  This means they aren’t good or bad to play, they’re just new and the odds from the original print haven’t changed significantly to make the game REALLY good to ply.

PLEASE NOTE: If it doesn’t appear on the next weeks report, please email INFO@scratchSmarter.com so we can investigate it.

  • The game has expired. This means it is past the date to claim a prize and the game should not be played at all.

Either way, if you come across a game that isn’t on our list, you should avoid it temporarily until it can be investigated.  There are SO many good games to play in every state that you should be able to find a ‘green’ game to play at any given retailer.