Rants on business, science, technology, society, politics, police, and justice, plus life hacks and tricks, since 2003. header image 1

PowerBall EV and Odds Calculator, or, Why PowerBall is a Ripoff

November 24th, 2012 · 3 Comments

Jump to the EV Calculator


As a semi-professional gambler, I feel it’s my duty to explain to everyone why PowerBall jackpot hysteria is largely worth ignoring. A basic understanding of probability and expected value is essential to understand the content of this post, but I’ll try to keep it simple. The calculations in this post are based on the official odds and jackpot values posted on the “how to play” page on the official PowerBall website.

PowerBall in a nutshell

As of 2012, PowerBall costs $2 to play. Players select 5 unique numbers between 1 and 59, and one “PowerBall” number between 1 and 35. The numbers are randomly selected in a drawing twice a week. A player wins when their ticket either matches the PowerBall number, or matches 3, 4, or 5 regular numbers. Matching all 5 numbers, plus the PowerBall number, pays the jackpot. The jackpot starts at $40,000,000. If a drawing does not result in a jackpot winner, the jackpot progressively increases until a jackpot is won. In the event there is more than one jackpot winner, the winners split the jackpot and each receive an equal portion.

There is also a sidebet option called “PowerPlay” that costs $1. The PowerPlay bet increases all the non-jackpot prizes. Players must play PowerBall for $2 to make the PlayerPlay sidebet on that ticket for an additional $1.
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→ 3 CommentsTags: My Thoughts · Scary Stuff

Was the Jersey Shore cast on drugs in S02E12?

October 18th, 2010 · 7 Comments

In the episode of Jersey Shore that aired October 14, 2010 (S02E12), there was a rather bizarre chain of events surrounding the action packed “Sunday dinner”.

Was the Jersey Shore cast on drugs in S02E12? from on Vimeo.

First, Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino, who easily is the most experienced chef in the house, throws a hot pan with hot grease under a cold water tap, leading to a smoke alarm event in the hotel. Upon arrival of the fire department, Pauly D first sees what appears to be a fire department supervisor wearing a polo shirt with a badge and he exclaims “busted!” Busted doing what, though? Let’s analyze this further.

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→ 7 CommentsTags: My Thoughts · Skippy Stuff

Epic reverse prank call on telemarketer that can’t hang up

October 16th, 2010 · 8 Comments

One of the keys to effective scambaiting is keeping the scammers focused on you instead of some actual hapless victim. Telemarketers will usually hang up if you seem resistant, figuring they will just get the next sucker. But today, I received a call on one of my honeypot phone numbers that blew me away. It started out pretty normally, with a robodialer recorded message announcing “this is Michael with WCA clearing house” and offering me an opt-out option (which, based on my experience with WCA, does nothing whatsoever). Naturally I am not actually interested in opting out of future calls, in fact, I am very much interested in receiving all the calls they can throw at me. It just wastes their time and effort, and gives me an opportunity to be an obnoxious jerk like the readers of this website seem to love. So, I pressed ‘1’ to be connected with my offer. The resulting fracas can be heard here:

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→ 8 CommentsTags: Spam and Telemarketing · Telephones

Easter egg in The Simpsons “MoneyBART” episode

October 16th, 2010 · 1 Comment

Catch this one on Hulu while you can – in the Simpsons episode that aired October 10, 2010, titled “MoneyBART” (season 22, episode 3), Lisa decides she needs more extracurricular and winds up managing Bart’s little league team. The episode received some notoriety already because the couch gag, directed by world-famous graffiti artist Banksy, was particularly provocative and dark. But it’s very likely to receive even more notoriety now because of the easter egg I discovered at about 4:19 into the show. While Maggie and Lisa are play-fencing, for a few frames, the blocks spell “FUK U ER”. Leaving us all now wondering: who is ER?

Check for yourself at 4:19:

→ 1 CommentTags: Skippy Stuff

Please help re-unite this Canadian man with his mother (@0:35)

October 15th, 2010 · No Comments

If anyone knows the man at 0:35, please let his mother know: he misses her very much and says hello. One of them mentioned they were from Ottawa, even though they are singing in French.

→ No CommentsTags: Skippy Stuff