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How many times have you daydreamed about winning the lottery? Do you have images of yourself shaking the lottery commissioner’s hand while the other hand holds that giant cardboard check for $400 million dollars? Many of us have already planned out where those winnings will goâ€"whether or not we ever buy lottery tickets. Perhaps the chance to win such large jackpots is part of the American dream. When playing Powerball, the largest of large jackpots comes when players also win the Powerplay. The question becomes whether the odds are for or against you in betting that extra $1. Analyzing the Powerplay payoff in Powerball can help you make that all-important decision.

Powerball is a lotto game administered by the Multi-State Lottery Association (MUSL) that rewards both jackpot and cash prizes. Every Wednesday and Saturday, the MUSL draws five white balls out of a barrel of 55 white balls and one red ball out of a barrel of 42 red balls. By matching chosen numbers, winners have nine opportunities to win. The jackpot is won by matching all five of the white balls and the red Powerball. A Powerball ticket costs players $1 a piece.

Players can also pay an extra $1 for the Powerplay, in which any prize winnings are multiplied by 2, 3, 4 or 5 times the original prize amount (not including the jackpot amount). The multiplier is chosen randomly at the same time the Powerball numbers are drawn. Players must choose the PowerPlay option when purchasing their Powerball ticket, and the ticket must match one of the non-jackpot prizes before the Powerplay multiplier will take effect.

The Powerball website run by the MUSL provides odds of winning the 8 possible Powerplay prizes. Remember that the Powerplay multiplier (unfortunately for some winners!) does not apply to jackpot prizes. The odds of having a winning multiplier are 1 in 4. If you win the $200,000 prize for matching all five of the white balls, and the multiplier is 2, your winnings will total $400,000. A multiplier of 5 will launch your winnings to $1 million dollars.

Analyzing the Powerplay payoff in Powerball can be complicated. A cost benefit analysis can help determine the true odds involved in playing the game. According to Wikipedia, the expected non-jackpot payout per Powerball ticket (not including Powerplayers) is, not surprisingly, negative. You are expected to lose 80 cents for every non-Powerplay Powerball ticket you purchase. When you choose to play the Powerplay option, you are expected to lose 51 cents. So, thinking long-term, if you spend $1000 buying non-Powerplay tickets, you will lose $803 of it. If you spend $1000 on 500 tickets that have the Powerplay option, you will “only” lose $655. Even though your odds are better when playing with the Powerplay option, they are still pretty lowâ€"and the more you put in, the more you are guaranteed to lose.

This analysis does not take the chances of winning the jackpot into account, however, and many people argue that the only good reason to play the lottery is to win the jackpot. One smart strategy would be to only buy tickets when the jackpot’s cash payout after taxes is very high. Still, the odd of winning the Powerball jackpot is 1 in 146,107,962.

Sometimes it seems that certain things just don’t hold up to logical thinking. Analyzing the Powerplay payoff in Powerball may very well be one of those things. For the most part, we all know that winning the lottery involves a great deal of luckâ€"not logic. Understanding your odds of winning as well as the amount of money you stand to lose over a lifetime may help you make your decision about choosing to play, but it certainly won’t increase your odds of winning.

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