The Anatomy of Streaking – A Look into W40 Streak

Streak for the Cash - W40ESPN’s Streak for the Cash game has two main monthly competitions. For most, the goal is to attain the elusive 40+ winning streak and win $1 million. In sync with this is attaining the longest streak in a given month, which will still net you $30,000 without hitting the 40 win threshold. The second SFTC goal is to focus on getting the most wins possible. Having the largest number of wins of all Streakers in a month, will net you $10,000. Although it is possible to attempt (and win) both goals, the realistic strategies for winning each one are likely to be different. In this multi-post series, we will be discussing these different goals, possible strategies, and odds of winning. We start with the W40 streak.

How difficult is a W40 streak?

When discussing the odds of multiple events all occurring, it is easy to go straight to the case where there’s no information available.  In our case, this corresponds to a strategy of randomly guessing and winning on 40 straight picks.  The odds of this would be 1 in 2^40 or 1 in 1.1 trillion.  In other words, you surely are not going to win by randomly guessing, and if you did then your superior luck will be rewarded with only meager returns, relatively speaking.

Most Streakers are going to use some sort of outside resource to maximize their odds of winning.  Last time, we talked about a strategy where picks are made using the crowd versus using Streak Edge.  For those picking with the crowd, a better strategy is to only make picks that have at least 90% majority support.  From our 2 months of crowd data, this approach would yield around a 57.4% winning percentage.  Assuming this winning rate, the odds of winning 40 straight by following the crowd is 1 in 4.4 billion.  When following Streak Edge, we recommend making selections on 3 star or higher picks.  As of the writing of this article, our winning percentage on these picks is 67.5%. Using this value, your odds of getting the W40 streak increase to 1 in 6.7 million.

Streak Edge Strategy W1 Streak W5 Streak W10 Streak W40 Streak
Random Picking 1 in 2 1 in 32 1 in 1024 1 in 1,099,511,627,776
Crowd Wisdom 1 in 1.74 1 in 16.0 1 in 257 1 in 4,400,725,746
Picking 3+ Star Props 1 in 1.48 1 in 7.1 1 in 51 1 in 6,727,428

This means that if you follow our recommendations then you have over 650 times the chance to get the W40 streak as the guy following the crowd and over 160,000 times as guessing.

How does this compare with other odds?

For comparison purposes, we have provided the odds of various events occurring below.

Event Odds Source
Get struck by lightning (in a year) 1 in 700,000 Odds of lightning strikes
Powerball $1 million (5 picks no Powerball) 1 in 5.1 million Powerball Odds
Win streak of 40+ on STFC (picking 3+ star) 1 in 6.7 million Noted above
Powerball Grand Prize (5 picks + Powerball) 1 in 175 million Powerball Odds
Perfect NCAA Bracket (picking favorites) 1 in 46 billion Odds of predicting a perfect NCAA bracket
Perfect NCAA Bracket (random guessing) 1 in 9.2 quintillion

Picking a correct NCAA tourney bracket is much more difficult than a W40.  This makes sense as you need to get essentially 59 correct picks (until there’s a 1-16 upset we will give you those 4 picks).  What I find even more interesting is you have better odds of winning the Powerball $1 million than winning the same amount via a W40 streak even when using Streak Edge’s 3 star+ strategy.  And the latter requires much more time, effort, and likely stress.  Of course, it’s more fun to play SFTC than just buying Powerball tickets.  Finally, the obligatory comparison to lightning strikes shows that you a more likely to get struck this year than win the money.

Next Time

Next time we will look more into getting the longest streak including some more strategies and tips to help you win.  We will revisit the strategy of picking 3 star or higher using Streak Edge to see if there are enough available to make that viable, and if not what you could try to fill the gaps.

About Hugh Crews

Hugh is an independent statistical consultant and founder of Eligis Analytics. His love for sports statistics started at a young age when he would read player stats on the back of baseball cards.