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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 They do not publish the Est % of tickets sold through either of these data sources.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/

Is it possible for me to purchase the 1 year service, without the recurring charges?

The answer is “YES!”   Our site is 100% self-service.  All memberships are set up with a renewal automatically, but you can change that ANYTIME you want in our member’s area.
Please read this Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) that explain how it works:
After you cancel, your subscription will be in a ‘pending cancellation’ status. This FAQ explains why:

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

 

In Kansas should I buy tickets one at a time or in blocks? You say single. everyone else say blocks.

We definitely DO NOT recommend buying a block of tickets – By block we mean an entire PACK of tickets.  This is a guaranteed way to lose a lot of money all at once.  The only way we would buy an entire pack fo tickets is if we KNEW, without doubt, that there was a BIG winner in that pack and, that is not possible to know with the data published on any of the lottery websites.
Why are we so adamant about this?
We track the overall odds and the detailed odds on every game at every prize level. The games are GUARANTEED to make the state money, NOT give it away to all of the players.
And because we see exactly how all of the detailed odds are applied to every prize level, we can see clearly that buying a pack of tickets is a guaranteed way to lose a lot of money at once.
Also, because we know that EVERYONE is scratching, including the retailers who sell the tickets, you have to be careful about how and where you play.
We suggest buying only one two tickets at a time and NOT scratching them off in the retail store.  You don’t want to let the people in the store know if you won or lost.
Even if you win (small or a large prize) we suggest taking it to another retailer to claim the prize.
This will prevent the retailers from getting an unfair advantage of knowing which rolls have had a string of losers in a row because that’s when they step in and buy the next few tickets – increasing their odds of winning – and that’s just not fair to you or anyone else buying scratch-off tickets.
In summary – don’t buy a pack of tickets.  If you want to give money away, email us, we know of a few charities we could recommend instead of your state’s lottery!

Quick question on the best scratch off to play in Florida for list you produced today, dates 06/08/18 to 06/015/18. You have the game “$2500 a week for life” with a smart factor of 2.899 and ranked 3rd overall. But on the state of Florida website for the lottery it shows “0” for top prizes remaining for this game. So my question is how can this game be ranked so high?

ANSWER:
The FL Lottery website is a little deceiving because it only shares the top prize remaining for the very top prize level.  Our report for Florida, isn’t just based on their website data.  We submit a Freedom of information request to the Florida lottery ever other week, where we get an updated status of prizes remaining for EVERY prize level.  The liability report they send to us tells us, exactly, the number of prizes remaining for every prize level. Our SmartFactor calculation is based on the top three prize levels (we consider the top three prizes for ever game to be a ‘big winner’).
For this week, you’ll see that the prizes remaining for the top 3 prizes, as of Monday was 67 top prizes remaining (add up the column under OUTSTANDING “COUNT” for rows 41 through 44 in the attached = 67 prizes outstanding)
The FL lottery has since updated the very top prize remaining from 1/4 (yesterdays count ) to 0/4 as of today.  Our report next week will reflect this change.  We do scrape the top prize remaining every and add in all of the additional prize remaining data into our database every other week.
Based on the liability report they send to us, the proportion of prizes remaining in the top three prize spots means that the odds of winning one of the top three prizes is better now – 2.899 times better- than when the game was originally released.
Attached is a screen shot of the data in their liability report sent to us for game #1352.
I’m not attaching their full liability report, because it’s BIG – over 240+ pages of reports that look like the pic attached.  Our code pulls of this data into our database for processing and give your the summary or which game(s) are the best to play and which games are the worst.
You can read more about how we handle FL lottery data here:

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