Statistician Cracks Scratch Lottery Code

His method determined winners 90% of the time
David L. Stoddard, of Villas, NJ, tries his luck with a scratch-off lottery ticket outside Blitz's Market in Villas, NJ, Saturday, Sept. 1, 2007.   (AP Photo/MJ Schear))

(User Submitted) – The numbers on those cheap "scratch and win" lottery tickets might seem random, but there is a pattern—the randomness is just a "mathematical lie." Statistician Mohan Srivastava received two tickets as a gag gift and became intrigued when he won $3 on a tic-tac-toe scratch game. He cracked the secret code on the ticket, allowing him to predict a winner 90% of the time. “There is nothing random about the lottery,” he tells Wired. “In reality, everything about the game has been carefully designed to control payouts and entice the consumer.”

Though it did occur to Srivastava to exploit the lottery system, he did some calculations and came to the conclusion that the $600 per day he could potentially make wasn't worth the boredom of spending all his time cracking the tickets. Instead, he reported his findings to the gaming commission, which pulled the flawed tickets from shelves. However, some variations of his trick have been shown to increase the chances on other tickets. So how did he manage this feat of mathematical genius? Read the full article for a detailed explanation, including photos.

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