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Want to beat the Buffett Pool? Forget about it, says UB’s Hutson

Release Date: March 18, 2014

Alan Hutson

Hutson (above) laid out the odds if each of the 63 games were like a coin flip, each team having a 50-50 chance of winning.

“Warren Buffett didn’t make his billions by taking low odds on his business ventures.”
Alan Hutson, PhD, Department of Biostatistics chair
University at Buffalo

BUFFALO, N.Y. – University at Buffalo Biostatistics Chair Alan Hutson has a tip for all those candidates lining up to win Warren Buffett’s $1 billion sweepstakes for picking all 63 NCAA Basketball Tournament games.

It’s not going to happen.

That’s the message from Hutson, a member of the American Statistical Association.

“Warren Buffett didn’t make his billions by taking low odds on his business ventures,” says Hutson. “That’s why they threw $1 billion at it. It could have been a trillion for that matter.”

Hutson laid out the odds if each of the 63 games were like a coin flip, each team having a 50-50 chance of winning. Then picking two games correctly would be ½ times ½, or ¼, multiplying ½ by itself 63 times.

That works out to a probability of 1 out of 9,223,372,036,854,775,808.

True, the odds aren’t quite that long, Hutson points out, because those making choices on games don’t imagine their odds as 50-50. But even taking into consideration that people can play favorites, it doesn’t change the action enough to give anyone anything resembling a reasonable chance of winning the jackpot.

 “No matter how good a prognosticator you are based on your basketball knowledge,” Hutson says, “the odds are still infinitesimal.” 

Media Contact Information

Charles Anzalone
News Content Manager, Education, EOC, Law, Social Work
Tel: 716-645-4600
anzalon@buffalo.edu