MS Excel: Crunching The POWERBALL Lottery!

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So the question is, can you make money in the Lottery using Excel?  The answer is "definitely", but you'll have to let me explain.

It all began with playing around with some Excel Functions and, in particular, trying to find some sample data to experiment on.  First, if you're unfamiliar, functions are those formulas that have the text instruction in them indicating what they do, such as =SUM(A1-A2) is a function and =A1+A2 is just a regular old formula. They both do the same but the thing is, there are many many more functions that do much more than just sum.

Anyway, in experimenting with functions I found the lottery an enticing subject of syudy.  Wow, a whole bunch of numbers just sitting there waiting to be crunched, great!  So I created some Excel templates that, when opened, would automatically download the lottery results, analyze the data and then tell me which were the best numbers to play!  Fun, huh? 

Powerball Math Magic Template
Powerball Math Magic Template

You might argue that the lotteries are random and no matter how you crunch the numbers, future drawings simply cannot be predicted.  I would argue back that in a truly random scenario you would be right, but being that those ping-pong ball machines exist in the real world, patterns should be able to be found.  Simply put, there are some balls that are chosen all the time, and others that hardly ever come up!  Feel like playing with these odds now?  Thought so.

Although I try, I cannot seem to win the jackpot :) but playing the numbers that are suggested by my templates definitely win me more prizes like the $3, $7, and sometimes the $100 levels. 

Template tells you when you win
Template tells you when you win

Now that I've piqued your interested (and I know I have), let me say that although my horrible luck increased some, it wasn't a surefire money making thing by any stretch.  There are times that I don't win a thing, but I win more, this is true.

Template suggests best numbers to play
Template suggests best numbers to play

Additionally, the templates also compile my numbers for me in one place.  And they tell me when my numbers match and how much money I've won.  A bonus is I'm always seeing what the recent best numbers are, and sometimes they're spot on.

Cool charts
Cool charts

So after a long while, my business sense (which is almost totally nonexistent) finally kicked in and I began selling the templates on eBay.  They're called Powerball Math Magic and Mega Millions Math Magic but they're listed as POWERBALL MAGIC LOTTERY SOFTWARE if you want to search for them.  And so as I said, the answer to the question from the top of this article is "definitely, you can make money with Excel".  Get it?

Okay, to convince you that this isn't one big advertisement for my templates, I offer the templates to TRCB readers for FREE to analyze for yourself. Please just make a request by contacting me through my website (Link is provided at the end of article).

As you know, I'm a technical trainer and the whole purpose is to propagate the cool formulas that are used, such as:

Import Data
Will download data from any other source, such as a Powerball web site.

  1. DATA/IMPORT EXTERNAL DATA/IMPORT
  2. Input a web address which contains data.
  3. Select Open.
  4. The web page is then displayed.
  5. Select the content; table or text.
  6. Select Import.
  7. Select Properties
  8. Select Refresh Data on File Open and any other options as desired.
  9. Select OK twice.

 =COUNTIF Function
Will count numbers only if they are of a certain criteria. For instance, in a long list of lottery results, I wanted to figure out how many one's there were, and how many two's, etc, all the way up to 59, so that I could then list what numbers had come up the most.  See =SUMIF too.
=COUNTIF(A1:A12,1)  A1:G12 is the range of lottery results and the "1" means this will only counts the "one's". [If you're saying "cool!" right now, you are officially a geek like me, but a cool one.]

=MODE Function
Will determine the most common number in a range of cells.
=MODE(A1:A12)  This will tell you the most common occurring number in the range A1:A12.

=MID Function
Will return particular characters from within a string of data.  Sometimes I needed to pick apart a string that was downloaded from the Internet such as when the winning numbers were downloaded as AUG 9 12 23 26 35 12 and I needed the middle numbers.
=MID(A1,3,2)  This will extract the 35 out of AU35, (if AU35 is in cell A1).

* If you made it this far and you liked this article, please rate me with lots of stars!

Rob Richards is a Microsoft Certified Trainer and an acclaimed technical educator and writer in Washington D.C. Rob has instructed professionals in office automation software products since 1991 and has led Change Management/Training initiatives at many government institutions such as the Supreme Court of the United States and at the Executive Office of the President (The White House) where he works currently. For more information please visit www.robrichards.net

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