Friday, March 30, 2012

The Lottery : Waste of Time

I've been known to hate  not like a lot of things in my days, but i truly hate the lottery. The old building I use to work in had a small mom and pop shop where a lot of people lined up for lottery tickets. When I first started I use to think I was in Soviet Russia waiting for bread, but then i realized it was worse. People were waiting in line in the hopes that this capitalist market would allow them to become a rich citizen. Don't get me wrong, I love a nice rags to riches (hence my love for the films Blank Check and Pretty Women). Lottery is Italian for "your screwed", ok that's not factually correct, but it is surprisingly close. Just because the pay-out is higher, does not mean your odds increase. I also want to be frank, the people that just started playing, what is the difference between 10 million (the lowest amount). Sure, it would be cool to have a plaque on your wall saying "I won the world's richest lottery". But in reality, we are not really going to be able to tell the difference between $10 million and $640 million, but now that it is so high, everyone has to play.

Its more than just the odds that make me hate the lottery, its really the entire thing. Picking your favourite cats foot number, throwing darts at the stock page, picking numbers because you had 13 single dollars in your pocket. All of these lead to people to believe that that they will the Jackpot.  I'll do my best to describe some neat things about ways to make money and how to lose it quickly. The first set of graphs are the odds of winning the lottery. If the background is red, the machine hit at least once, and  if there are multiple white spots, it means that how many times you hit. I also put a graph in to show you how many times i hit at each money level. I also "played" the lottery 1,755,625 times. (Its the maximum size allowed by PC). A quick sidebar on this issue. When I learn a computer program langauge, I try to solve everyday problems using the computer. When I learned R, my first program simulated the lottery. I had a where clause, where the computer would keep drawing until it hit the lottery; needless to say, my computer crashed and it was tough explaining it to IT why this happened.

Amount of Winnings
Total hits After
1.7 Million trys
$640 Mill

As you can see by both the table and the graphs, not a lot of people are going to win this weekend.But I'm sure those people who bought tickets are like "But it only takes 1 ticket to win, and I'm going to win". I say that every time I approach an attractive celebrity, it only takes one hello for her to go home with. Needless to say, im 0/100 on Rachel McAdams (one day though one day though). A little bit ago I saw the film "Hes just not that into you" featuring a list of somewhat famous actors and actresses. The main thing I learned was that you need to act as the rule, and not the exception. If i went around thinking everything was going to go my way all the time, then i wouldn't be blogging! Lets just admit it folks, the lottery just not that into you, so don't expect it to call you back tomorrow morning. Nor can you call it, because you have the wrong numbers.

I'm sure a bunch of you are thinking , Listen PatchStats, its only (insert any value you spent on the lottery), I think I can live without this money. Below is barchart of playing the lottery. The first bar is what you can expect from winning the lottery. (Probability*Value) for all possible outcomes. As for keeping the money in your pocket, thats the second bar.

. Lets think about if we kept that dollar, what  could we do. You could tip your waiter/waitress more, you could eat a McDouble (which for some reason is cheaper than both a hamburger and cheese burger, despite having more of both), a Taco Hard Taco (for reason the soft onse are 1.19, damn you for knowing your market). You can even out on LivingSocial for $1. I did a quick search on craiglist to see what i could find for $1, apparently you can get Capitals Tickets  [wow have the capitals really stunk this year]. A new pair of trainers , and even a smart car and thirty minutes of driving credit. [ok that last one was free, but hey you get my point.] So basically, you are screwed, its like that scene in titanic, where rose doesn't hold on to jack's hand, except this time Rose threw Jack off the top of the boat with a lead weight tied around his leg. All gambling kinda sucks though, to reach the Mega-million dollar amount, it would take an estimate 25 million hands of BlackJack, assuming you played fairly and smart and won .495% of the time. That would take somewhere around 289 days to win, assuming you played 1 hand per second (which of course is not likely, but neither is winning the lottery). So the next time you debate getting that Guacamole that is that extra $1.00, just say "Yes, At least I didnt play the lottery".

Sunday, March 4, 2012

The £ 50 million Minor League Decision : What to do with Torress

For those of you who have followed the company blog for a while, you know I try to diversify the topics I write about. And I’ll do my best with this soccer post. I love soccer, and have begun to really focus my efforts onto this emerging sports. But don’t let me get ahead of myself.
I have a friend from Peru whom I discuss a lot of soccer about. Despite his beliefs about how statistics will ruin the sport, I still do my best to use stats to predict the outcome of games. This friend of mine, once had a discussion about why I believe professional soccer needs a legitimate minor league system. My biggest argument was Fernando “I hate to score” Torress , who has struggled to score in his last 24 starts. For a professional soccer player who cost 50 million British Sterling Pounds, they expect a little more results from him. Lets take a look at a graph.
Stats / Graphs:

This represents Torress’s Goals 3 game Average and his Shots 3 game Average[1]. Now if we look around his 78 mark we see a pretty deep drop off from his normal pace. This is because 80 appearances ago Torres got injured. At the time, Torress was with Liverpool, who played him back very quickly. The team was looking for anything they could get. The team was in downfall, trying to scrape points. But we learn from hindsight is that sometimes players need to “gain” their confidence. Think of this way, if you were going to train for a marathon, you wouldn’t start your first practice against Steve prefontaine. That is what Professional soccer has a problem with, starting players against the best competition, you need to ease these things back. Ever famous American Athletes go through rehab by playing against lower competition, even Derek Jeter did this.[2]  This with the fact that Derek Jeter cost the Yankees 220,159,364 (over some years, but still).
Ok , back to the graph. When you look at this, you see that Torress’s shots did not really change, but he isn’t thinking about shooting, he is just taking the shots. His “touch” is rushed, and he isn’t taking his time taking the shots, he is just hoping the ball goes in. This is typical of someone desperate for success, [I mean even the cast of the Jersey Shore shoots until they hit]. Lets break this down by the numbers.
 Above is a table showing you the Average amount of goals per game that Torress has scored per game, this is broken down from Pre-Injury and Post Injury, then the next column is Shots. See something different, there is a much larger gap between Goals than there is shots. Shots seem to be about the same, where goals he seems to have dropped. Lets get Nerdy, and drop the real statistics.
The Difference between Goals has a P-value of .001 , where the P-value of the difference in shots is .6 ; all in all this means there is no difference between the amount of shots per game he is taking, rather his conversion of those shots to goals has declined.
Why is this so concerning? It’s because a £ 50 million should not be sitting your bench, and should be called to his national country. I spoke two several soccer statisticians while at the MIT Sloan Sports Conference, and most of them agreed that we need a time to shoot metric. I assume, this statistic would look somewhat normally distributed. People that rush the shot will generally miss, and those that over think the shot will generally miss as well, its finding that golden middle that will allow yourself to score.
Back to main question and point, if sports are such “feeling it” art, than we need to make sure a player gets back on pace even if that is lowering his competitive standards. It is very likely that Chelsea is going to lose money on Torress, but they can stop the bleeding. He has talent, he has fitness, but he lacks the confidence to put the goals away, and until he regains that it will be a dry spell for the Spaniard. Hopefully the new Chelsea Manager can fix things.

[1] In soccer, we get the complaint about all the noise. To avoid this, we look take a Moving average, its quite common in time-series.