Author Topic: Best odds to win Lotto  (Read 1600 times)

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Offline Skulker

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Best odds to win Lotto
« on: March 31, 2011, 09:49:45 AM »
Need help form you math majors out there.

Which gives better odds of winning a lottery?

  • Playing the same numbers each time.
  • Going with a quick pick each time.

At first glance I thought playing the same numbers each time would be better odds.
That way you only have to contend with one random event (the actual draw of the numbers) where as if you do a quick pick you have to hope that two random events coincide which I thought would make the odds worse.

Does this logic really hold?
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Offline jaypee

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Re: Best odds to win Lotto
« Reply #1 on: March 31, 2011, 09:55:15 AM »
How Stuff Works doesn't devote any time to either method. I guess if you're going to play the lottery you should use any or all of the methods they recommend to increase your statistical likelihood.

My advice? I'm not a statistician, but I'd say you shouldn't waste your time unless you're doing it for fun only. Also, I have friends who have "systems" for buying scratch tickets which seem to work in the long run, but you have to keep in mind that their profit margins are really thin. You'd be better off taking that same money and investing it in any random stock.
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Offline Skulker

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Re: Best odds to win Lotto
« Reply #2 on: March 31, 2011, 09:58:20 AM »
This came out of a discussion we had at work about starting a lotto pool so it's not really any kind of investment strategy but more of a curiosity.
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Offline Drewish

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Re: Best odds to win Lotto
« Reply #3 on: March 31, 2011, 10:00:35 AM »
Neither system has better odds.  The odds of a lottery number repeating are the same as any other number, so no number "has it's time."  Even though as the number of lotteries increases, the likelihood of any individual number coming up rises, this means nothing for each individual drawing.  Think of it this way, if I'm rolling a dice and pick the number 6 every time for ten roles, then my odds are good.  but if it gets to roll 10 without a 6 coming up, then I've only got a 1 / 6 chance.  You'd be just as well picking randomly each time.  And each time you would have a 1 / 6 chance because the past rolls have no influence on the odds for future rolls.
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Offline Skulker

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Re: Best odds to win Lotto
« Reply #4 on: March 31, 2011, 10:04:00 AM »
True but does it make a difference for two random events being equal versus one fixed event matching one random event i.e. do two rolls of the dices have the same odds of being equal as one roll of the dice being equal to your number?
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Offline jaypee

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Re: Best odds to win Lotto
« Reply #5 on: March 31, 2011, 10:07:11 AM »
True but does it make a difference for two random events being equal versus one fixed event matching one random event i.e. do two rolls of the dices have the same odds of being equal as one roll of the dice being equal to your number?

I think the odds "reset" with each drawing. I don't think that playing the same numbers repeatedly vs. a random set of numbers has any advantage.

You should do that "Wheel Method" that HSW suggests. Even if it's just an office pool for fun I don't see any reason why you shouldn't at least try to win :).
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Offline Drewish

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Re: Best odds to win Lotto
« Reply #6 on: March 31, 2011, 10:17:42 AM »
True but does it make a difference for two random events being equal versus one fixed event matching one random event i.e. do two rolls of the dices have the same odds of being equal as one roll of the dice being equal to your number?

Okay I'm playing two games.  In one I need to roll a 6.  In the other I have to roll two dice and they need to match.  The odds of winning the first are clearly 1 / 6.  Now there are 36 possible combinations of rolls in the second game:

Die 1 -- Die 2 -- Win?
1        1        Yes
1        2        No
1        3        No
1        4        No
1        5        No
1        6        No
2        1        No
2        2        Yes
2        3        No
2        4        No
2        5        No
2        6        No
3        1        No
3        2        No
3        3        Yes
3        4        No
3        5        No
3        6        No
4        1        No
4        2        No
4        3        No
4        4        Yes
4        5        No
4        6        No
5        1        No
5        2        No
5        3        No
5        4        No
5        5        Yes
5        6        No
6        1        No
6        2        No
6        3        No
6        4        No
6        5        No
6        6        Yes


So that's 36 possible results with 6 results giving a win.  6 / 36 = 1 / 6, so the odds are still 1 / 6.  There is no impact on the odds.
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Offline Skulker

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Re: Best odds to win Lotto
« Reply #7 on: March 31, 2011, 10:18:37 AM »
I will pass on the wheel method to the group. I know they really want to win after that office pool that won the big MegaMillons jackpot  ;D
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Offline The Latinist

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Re: Best odds to win Lotto
« Reply #8 on: March 31, 2011, 01:35:51 PM »
If I were going to play the lottery, I'd play the numbers 1-2-3-4-5-6 and I would have exactly the same odds as either your quick pick or your self-picked numbers.
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Offline Old Earth Accretionist

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Re: Best odds to win Lotto
« Reply #9 on: March 31, 2011, 01:41:02 PM »
what Andrew said.  The future probability is not being affected by the earlier events... so it is the same probability using either method.
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Offline jaypee

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Re: Best odds to win Lotto
« Reply #10 on: March 31, 2011, 01:46:10 PM »
If I were going to play the lottery, I'd play the numbers 1-2-3-4-5-6 and I would have exactly the same odds as either your quick pick or your self-picked numbers.

Read the article I cited, they say that while this isn't any better or worse than any other strategy which doesn't employ observation and statistics the problem is that if this sequence is ever picked your payout is likely to be much lower because a lot of people who think they're being clever will pick that sequence.
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Offline The Latinist

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Re: Best odds to win Lotto
« Reply #11 on: March 31, 2011, 01:56:00 PM »
Read the article I cited, they say that while this isn't any better or worse than any other strategy which doesn't employ observation and statistics the problem is that if this sequence is ever picked your payout is likely to be much lower because a lot of people who think they're being clever will pick that sequence.

But if I were playing it would be to prove a point.  But then, as is by not playing the lottery twice weekly for the past 15 years I have come out $1,560 ahead of my classmate who has.
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Offline gs

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Re: Best odds to win Lotto
« Reply #12 on: March 31, 2011, 04:30:12 PM »
I'm willing to bet that no winner of the lotto has been a mathematician or a statician.    It's seemingly always some redneck from the boons who took his/her last dollar from their welfare check down to the local gas station.

Offline GodSlayer

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Re: Best odds to win Lotto
« Reply #13 on: March 31, 2011, 05:04:14 PM »
Need help form you math majors out there.

Which gives better odds of winning a lottery?

  • Playing the same numbers each time.
  • Going with a quick pick each time.

At first glance I thought playing the same numbers each time would be better odds.
That way you only have to contend with one random event (the actual draw of the numbers) where as if you do a quick pick you have to hope that two random events coincide which I thought would make the odds worse.

Does this logic really hold?

has anyone quoted Adam Smith yet?
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Offline Jack R.

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Re: Best odds to win Lotto
« Reply #14 on: March 31, 2011, 05:21:34 PM »
If your playing as part of a crowd, it would be better to stick with the same numbers anyway.  And maintain a list of people who kick into the pool.  And publish some rules.

Seems like every time a pool of people win a lottery jackpot, someone sues them claiming to have been unjustly excluded from the winnings.
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