Lottery Strategy

There Is No Lottery Strategy!

People who play the lottery for mere fun don’t worry about lottery winning secrets and strategies; they know it is purely a game of chance. But people with gambling addictions and those who take the lottery seriously are often convinced there is a system that will increase their chances of winning a prize. Such players are the target audience for scam lottery strategy guides. They have no problem paying $10 for a 20-page pamphlet or e-book, after all, they may spend hundreds of dollars a month on lotto tickets.

Unfortunately, lottery “secrets” are nothing more than dubious mathematical claims and lists of previous winning combinations, neither of which will give you an edge over other players. If you want to play the lottery, play for fun or because you want to contribute to charity funds. Don’t turn it into a serious pursuit of the jackpot.

The following points address why there is no mathematical way to increase the probability of choosing a winning combination of numbers on a lottery ticket.

The key to understanding why there is no winning strategy is to know that every number has an equal chance of being drawn, which means that every combination of numbers is just as (un)likely to be drawn as any other combination.

The odds of winning the jackpot depend on the set of integers from which you choose your ticket numbers, and how many numbers you have to choose. For example, in the US-based Mega Millions Lottery you have to choose 5 distinct numbers from 1 to 56, and one mega ball number from between 1 and 46.The total number ofpossiblecombinations is

(56 C 5)*46 = 46*(56*55*54*53*52)/(5*4*3*2*1) = 175,711,536.

Your chance of winning the jackpot is the reciprocal of this number, 1/175711536, or about 0.000000005691.

Some people who are not convinced that each combination is equally (un)likely will cite examples of tickets with obvious number patterns, for instance, tickets with 5 consecutive numbers. If you choose 5 out of 56 numbers, there are only 50 ways to pick a set of 5 consecutive numbers. This might lead you to believe that a ticket with “11, 12, 13, 14, 15” is less likely to win than a ticket with “3, 16, 28, 39, 47.”

But lottery drawings aren’t about matchingpatterns, they are simply about matching sets of numbers. You are just as unlikely to win the lottery if you play “11, 12, 13, 14, 15” as if you play “3, 16, 28, 39, 47.” As sets of numbers, they have an equal likelihood of being drawn.

Each drawing is an independent event. It does not influence subsequent drawings nor is it influenced by previous drawings. If you play the same set of numbers week after week after week without winning, your chances of winning with that combination do not increase or decrease over time. They remain abysmally low.

The same logic applies if you buy a ticket with combination of numbers that previously won. It is unlikely that the same set of numbers will be drawn twice, but it isno more unlikelythan any other combination of numbers.

Some lottery players look at data tables from earlier drawings to glean which numbers are more likely to be drawn. The problem with this strategy is that their sample size is way too small to give them a clear picture of the situation.

Take for example the Mega Millions lottery in which you pick 5 out of 56. If you look at the past 10 drawings, a very small sample of past results, the probability of each number having been drawn at least once is very low. More likely you will see that various numbers have been drawn three times, twice, once, and not at all. This could lead you to believe, mistakenly, that some numbers really do have a higher chance of being selected.

But in order to get a true picture of the probabilities, you would need to look at tens ofthousandsof previous lottery results. If you did this, you would see that the distribution of frequencies is quite uniform.

The only true way to increase your chance of winning a prize is to buy more than one ticket per drawing. Of course, with this strategy, the expected amount of money youloseincreases as well! If you ever wondered why groups frequently win the jackpot, it’s becauselottery clubsbuya lotof tickets, often 50 to 100 for a particular drawing. But for every lottery club that hits the jackpot, there are millions of groups that don’t win and waste a ton of money on tickets.

An oft cited lottery strategy is to pick the numbers that other lottery players do not pick as often. For example, many people choose numbers based on their birthdays, and birthday numbers only run up to 31. Thus, the strategy is to select some numbers above 31. Compulsive lottery players may repeatedly choose 7 but avoid 13. And so the contrarian’s strategy would be to choose 13 and avoid 7.

The idea behind the contrarian strategy is that if your ticket wins, you would less likely have to have to share the jackpot since you chose numbers that other players avoided.

What this method does not do is increase your chances of winning in the first place. A ticket with (13, 32, 33, 34, 35) is no more likely to win than a ticket with (5, 7, 14, 25, 30).