Powerball Numbers

Written by Jeremy Horelick
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Powerball numbers are a double-edged sword for a lot of gamers. On the one hand, Powerball offers potentially greater jackpots than many of its rival games both in the U.S. and in other national lotteries. At the same time, this higher jackpot comes with longer odds attached, as players must now match a sixth ball in addition to their original five.

It's hard enough matching five numbers out of a possible 45, but the struggle is compounded by the need for a one-in-42 bonus ball to go with it. All in all, the odds of your Powerball numbers coming out exactly in your favor are about one in 80 million--not exactly promising. The upside, of course, is that these odds are in fact so remote that it's not difficult for 200- and 300-million-dollar pots to accumulate.

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Part of the reason the odds of hitting American Powerball numbers are so ludicrous is that the bonus ball is chosen independently of the first five drawings. Were you to pick the sixth number from the same pot, your odds would be more favorable since five numbers (the five you've already hit) are already out of the equation. Instead, you must start afresh with a new batch of balls, which is typical of a lot of national Powerball lotteries.

All of this anguishing over statistical minutiae makes one thing crystal clear: picking Powerball numbers should be done merely for fun, not with any expectation of winning. Even if you manage to improve your odds slightly by waiting for low player turnouts or by choosing "smart" numbers, the marginal advantage is still insignificant. The lesson then is to keep your day job, keep investing, and drop the occasional dollar when the jackpot swells out of control.

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