Tigard Man Calculates Odds of Winning Lottery Scratch-Its

Have you ever tried buying an Oregon Lottery scratch-it card? Odds of winning big are truthfully always against you.

One Tigard man, Pierce Lamb, 35, used his programming knowledge to build a website (bestoregonscratchits.com) with a purpose to shift the odds more in your favor.

Pierce Lamb. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)

Scratch-it cards differ from the widely known jackpot ticket games such as Mega Millions and Powerball, often times seen on freeway billboards. Scratch-its, as the name implies, are cards where buyers scratch off simple caricatures and hope to win big. Although the lottery has hundreds of scratch-it games in circulation concurrently, they only print a limited number of each scratch-it game and this is what makes Lamb’s site at all possible.

This website, in essence, takes public data directly from the Oregon Lottery, runs a few calculations and displays currently available scratch-its that have the highest chance of winning a top prize. It also gives users a subscription option to have this information sent directly to them via email.

The calculations are based on how many prizes have been won to date, and the initial chance of buying a winning scratch-it. As there are only a set number of prizes available at a scratch-it’s print date, over time the odds of winning will either increase or decrease. As cards are bought, and if prizes are won, then the odds of someone winning further decrease. But if prizes aren’t won, then the odds of winning actually go up. This is what Lamb’s website seeks to calculate. Although, Lamb mentions that these odds aren’t completely accurate, as one major assumption has to be made.

“The one piece of data that the Oregon lottery doesn’t publish is how many tickets were in the initial circulation,” Lamb told Tigard Life. “But what they do publish is what the odds are of each prize when that initial circulation goes out. So, from those odds, you can make a really good, educated guess on how many tickets were in circulation.”

To make this project flourish, Lamb combined his technical skills as a programmer and previous work in marketing. He is currently working on a Master’s in computer science while holding down a full-time position as a web developer.

As a jackpot game admirer, he found the Oregon Lottery’s public statistics in September and soon after realized that he could make an app to find the current odds of winning. After his school term let out for winter break last year, he set to work and built the site in a little over a week, pushing the site publicly on Jan. 14.

“I was planning on just using it myself,” Lamb said. “I was just telling some of my friends about it and a couple of my friends started asking me like, ‘Hey, I’m stopping by the convenience store, which scratch-it and should I buy?’”

After publishing a few posts on the forum website, Reddit, he quickly surpassed 2,000 site views and gained over 100 subscribers to the email subscription service.

In the website’s current form, updated whenever the Oregon Lottery releases new data, it shows three lists of desirable scratch-its. One houses scratch-its that have best odds of winning a “Top Prize”, another holds scratch-its that have the best odds of winning a “Top 3 Prize” and the last keeps the scratch-its that have most top prizes left.

Lamb’s “Best Oregon Scratch-its” website.

Although the website’s functionality is currently limited, Lamb has several features planned. Some of these include a search feature to look up odds for any available scratch-it, a history to track changes in odds of scratch-its over time, and where to buy any specific scratch-it. The major hold-up is a lack of time to set aside for the project.

“For now, with my current life, I don’t have like a full week’s worth of time to dedicate to it,” he said. “But I am able to spend time each week working on features and whatnot.”

Accompanying these features, Lamb also hopes to build mobile apps in the future, something he had experience with a number of years ago in an investment project.

Although the website was launched less than two months ago, a few lucky users have already won prizes. But, he stressed, the lottery and his website shouldn’t be used for investment purposes.

Even still, if users want to buy scratch-its after visiting Lamb’s website, he suggests purchasing from local mom-and-pop establishments in the case they do strike gold.

“In the event that you ever were to win you know that the chunk of money that goes to the store owner would be going to a mom-and-pop place,” Lamb said. “One of my favorite ones in Tigard is Walnut Market.”