What’s a poker player to do when not busy at the tables? Most often, sports betting fits the bill, but on rare occasions other gambling opportunities rise. Such was the case in recent days when the Mega Millions lottery pool, available in 45 out of the 50 U.S. states, ballooned well over $1 billion after having rolled over without a winner for the 29th consecutive draw. Four-time WSOP bracelet winner and that series’ 2021 POY, Josh Arieh, saw a fun sweat at hand.
Arieh, as so many other occasional lottery players do, decided to create a pool of Mega Millions entries, inviting his friends and fellow gamblers to join. Such lottery pools proliferate when a jackpot grows enormous, and Friday’s Mega Millions draw ended up awarding the second largest payout in U.S. lottery history. But whereas most such lottery pools typically find their participants pitching in nominal amounts, usually between $1 and $20 each, Arieh went upscale:
It’s not the first time Arieh has put together a major lottery pool for his friends. Last December, he pooled $35,000 for a similar lottery draw. That group hit one $10,000 winner and numerous smaller payouts for about another $3,000 total. This time, Arieh announced that it would be an all-or-nothing affair, choosing the “jackpot” option, where one purchases two sets of numbers for $3 instead of paying $2 per chance for the full spectrum of prizes.
Given the reduced price of $1.50 per set of numbers, Arieh planned to cap the pool at $25,000, but ended up accidentally printing $27,000 worth of tickets at the pool hall that he owns. Arieh originally claimed to have 31 gamblers in the pool, though that may have swelled as high as 35 after he allowed a few extra people to claim the added tickets. Arieh offered only those two choices for buying in, at $500 or $1,000, and most participants went for the full $1,000 buy-in.
And of course, Arieh also secured the winner of high-stakes poker’s current resident luckbox, Matt Glantz, who recently pulled the $1 million winning ticket in the WSOP’s Mystery Bounty event:
The $27,000 Arieh pooled translated to 18,000 sets of numbers. Since printed lottery tickets contain up to ten sets of numbers each, that meant that Arieh or an employee printed out at least 1,800 lottery slips, which he displayed in a pint-sized beer glass and two thick stacks of slips:
The mass ticket buy changed the group’s odds, but only in a relative sense, from infinitesimal to just nearly so. A single set of numbers, which includes seven total numbers, has a one in 302.6 million chance of winning. With 18,000 sets of numbers in play, and assuming no duplicates, Arieh’s group had about a one in 168,000 chance of catching a jackpot winner.
Alas for the group, it was all for nothing. Even with Glantz’s random-number karma on board, it was a brief sweat. Once the multi-state lottery announced that a sole winning ticket had been purchased in a different state, Illinois, than where Arieh’s pool hall is, Arieh’s group knew the stack of tickets was worthless. Choosing the “jackpot” option meant that there was no need to check for lesser winners, since those weren’t in play, though the flip side was that unlike in December, Arieh or an employee didn’t have to spend several hours scanning 1,800 slips looking for those lesser winners.
Featured image source: Twitter / @golferjosh