General Question

Master's avatar

Are there better chances of winning the lottery by playing the same numbers every time?

Asked by Master (1353 points ) May 6th, 2010

Or are the chances better by going random?

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

28 Answers

bob_'s avatar

No. The chances are the same for any given number.

Pretty_Lilly's avatar

No difference,actually believe it or not most people that won the lottery,won by QP.
Winning the lottery has the same odds of getting attacked by Bigfoot and later on in the day a Yeti finishing you off !!

MrItty's avatar

Neither.

Whether this is the first day you’ve played 123456, or you’ve played 123456 every day for the last 1000 days, 123456 has exactly the same chance of coming up.

gailcalled's avatar

Sorry, but no. You can flip a coin 1 million times and come up heads (unlikely but theoretically possible). The next flip gives you 50/50 odds.

john65pennington's avatar

Numbers at random and here is why. wife and i play bingo about three nights a week. they have a $500.00 game called U Pick Em. you can pick your own numbers or you can let the computer pick your eight numbers at random. we use to pick our own numbers, without any luck. then, we switched to the random computer option. since changing, in the last 4 months, we have won 3 U Pick Em games by ourselves at $500 dollars each.

You cannot predict the numbers that will come out of a bingo ball machine. we now rely on luck and blessings from above.

grumpyfish's avatar

Unless someone is gaming the system (i.e., cheating), the odds of winning the lottery do not change.

However, if you are playing a game where the prize is split amongst winners, trying to pick numbers that others are not playing can mean a larger payout.

That said, NOT playing the lottery and putting the money you would be spending in an interest bearing account pays off far better than playing the lottery.

rebbel's avatar

The only difference it makes is when you do win after you played the same number for years, is that you can say: ”See, i told you that if you always play the same numbers, in the end you will win!

bob_'s avatar

@john65pennington You contradict yourself. First you say that numbers are random are better, but then you say that you rely on luck. The latter statement is true. You simply have gotten luckier.

El_Cadejo's avatar

The lottery is for people who are bad at math.

” 5,000 times more likely to be struck by lightening in my life time
208 times more likely to be struck by lightening this year than win the powerball
* You are 16 times more likely to get killed driving 10 miles to claim your Powerball ticket than actually winning it in the first place
* Note: buying more lottery tickets does not increase your chances to win at all – its negligible unless you buying thousands and even then see your odds below
* If you spent $10,000 a week on lottery tickets it would take you 2,809 years to win
* If you spent $1 million dollars per year on lottery tickets it would take you over 146 years to win
* If every single person alive on the planet (6.5 Billion) bought a powerball ticket – only 44 people would win
* You are 8,117 times more likely to be murdered than win the lottery
* You are 213 times more likely to die in your bathtub
* You are 146 times more likely to die from a fireworks accident in your lifetime
* You are 208 times more likely to die from a dog bite

ucme's avatar

I’ve always viewed it like this,anyone winning a lottery has to be outrageously lucky same as anyone being killed in say a plane crash is similarly unlucky. I’m as unlikely to have either happen to me & I like those odds.

grumpyfish's avatar

Just to run out my investment scenario above:

Conservatively investing $1 a day for 30 years nets $23k at a 50th percentile random walk.

Buying a lottery ticket (California Super Lotto Plus – $6M cash payout) has odds of 1:41,416,353. In 30 years, you would spend $10950, with a 1:3780 chance of winning (in 30 years).

Assuming you win: you’d get $6,000,000 for a $10950 investment (550x ROI)
Assuming you lose: you’re out as much as $40k (the 90th percentile random walk)

Response moderated
mrentropy's avatar

During one of my unemployed times I downloaded the current list of winning lottery numbers for Texas and wrote a program that would take six numbers and see if there was a match for three or more numbers. I found that any combination I entered had been a “winner” for at least three of the numbers.

This leads me to believe that picking one number and staying with it will get you at least a three or four number match. How long that would take is entirely a different matter.

Using a coin toss, for example, if you changed your guess every time the coin was flipped you could (if you were me) continue losing forever. If you always choose “heads” you will eventually win.

I wouldn’t take my word, though. I know nothing about statistics and don’t even give money to the lottery commission.

bob_'s avatar

@mrentropy Each lottery is an independent event. Your numbers are never “due”, so sticking with one number or changing it makes no difference.

grumpyfish's avatar

@mrentropy Actually the odds of flipping a coin (changing your guess each time and getting it right) and flipping a coin (and keeping the same guess each time and getting it right) are equal.

It doesn’t make a lot of sense, I know, but if you keeping guessing heads, it might come up tails every time.

mrentropy's avatar

@grumpyfish It might, but it would be very unlikely. I’m pretty sure if I stick with heads I’ll win eventually.

@bob_ I suppose. But then there’s the psychological affect. If I played the same six numbers for years and then decided to change it up with a quick pick and then found out that the numbers I’d been playing for years popped up for the $216M pot—Well, I think I’d jump off a bridge.

bob_'s avatar

@mrentropy That’s a whole different thing. Don’t get me wrong, I play the same numbers twice a week, but I’m fully aware that my odds are the same. It’s a matter of behavioral economics.

LuckyGuy's avatar

The only advantage I can see to playing the same numbers is the ease in memorizing and checking the results. You waste less time finding out that you lost, and have more time to do something productive.

grumpyfish's avatar

@mrentropy Sure -

That is, if I flip a coin 10 times, there’s a 0.09766% it’ll be all heads. 365 flips, I’m down to 1.331×10^-108% (a very very small number) that it’ll never come up tails.

However, if we’re dealing with a pick-three system, we have 1:1000 chance of winning, so the odds that any one number comes up is 1:1000—or on average once every three years. Except previous numbers can be drawn again, so it’s possible that your number won’t be drawn.

For instance… I ran three years of triple digit numbers through wolfram alpha (here—you’ll get different numbers than I did). 777 came up twice, 555 never came up.

Rarebear's avatar

Take a 5 dollar bill. Crumple it up. Throw it over your shoulder. Walk away. That’s what playing the lottery is like.

arpinum's avatar

There are actually better numbers to play depending on the game. If the jackpot is split amongst all winners, you can increase you payout by choosing a number that no one else would. Popular numbers such as all 1s, numbers that could be birthdays, and other pattern numbers will reduce your payout. Just choosing random numbers all the time won’t work because some of the popular numbers may come up in your random selection. Just have a random number generated, check that it isn’t one that someone else would have any reason to play, and always play that number.

Your still expected to lose money though.

jerv's avatar

@uberbatman I think that most people for the dream. You can’t win if you don’t play, even if your odds are almost the same either way.

Roby's avatar

A couple in my area bought a lottery ticket. On their way home the woman noticed that the numbers she picked where not like she wanted them to be so she asked her husband to return to the store to change them. They did and they won 8 million that same night.

bob_'s avatar

@Roby Pure, raw luck. Then again, if they say that “love means never having to say you’re sorry”, then statistics means never having to say you’re certain.

mattbrowne's avatar

No. The only small thing you can do is to bet on unpopular combinations of numbers. Otherwise the best thing for winning money is not to play.

MrItty's avatar

@mattbrowne that “small thing” has exactly 0 effect on your chances of winning. The only thing that effects is how much money you are likely to take home IF you win.

mattbrowne's avatar

@MrItty – I’m aware of this and this is exactly what I meant. If you win, you win slightly more.

sajo's avatar

I’m just guessing here, as I am not good at statistics, but I figure the following: Let’s say I play a 6/45 game twice a week (around 8.14 million to one chance each time); if I buy 1,000 tickets for one draw I would have one in 8,140 chances of winning (1/8.14M + 1/8.14M + 1/8.14M…), right?; now assume the opposite: the draw will produce one thousand results to match my fix set during the next 9.5 years. If I keep buying the same numbers, I will have reduced greatly the odds against my bet—and I’d also be a lot closer to getting 5 of 6—. Although far from a guaranteed prize, I imagine I’d be helping luck. Please tell me if this is wrong.

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