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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Magical equations » » Choosing Lottery Numbers (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

hoodrat
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With the recent Powerball Lottery jackpot being at an all-time high, I had the following discussion/argument with a friend of mine concerning the selection of what numbers to play.

Let's say, for example, that a lottery game requires you to select 6 different numbers from 1 through 40. I told my friend that my numbers were going to be 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6. His numbers were 7, 12, 19, 24, 29, and 38. He then told me that his numbers had a better chance of being drawn as the winning numbers than my numbers did. I argued with him and said that both of our selections have an EQUAL chance of being drawn as the winning numbers since the selection process is totally RANDOM. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6 has just as much of a chance as being drawn as does 7, 12, 19, 24, 29, and 38! I told him that the reason he thought my selection had less of a chance of being drawn was simply because it was a sequence that had "meaning" to us humans.

Who, if anybody, was correct?
Joshua Quinn
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You are.

You also have the advantage that if you happen to play your numbers and win, you'll probably get a bigger jackpot than your friend would if he won with his numbers. This is because most people think like your friend, and therefore would never pick "123456," so you'd probably have far fewer people to split the jackpot with.

Richard Feynman had a great way of illustrating this: “You know the most amazing thing happened to me tonight. I was coming here, on the way to the lecture, and I came in through the parking lot. And you won’t believe what happened. I saw a car with the license plate ‘ARW 357’. Can you imagine. Of all the millions of license plates in the state, what was the chance that I would see that particular one tonight? Amazing!”
Every problem contains the seeds of its own solution. Unfortunately every problem also contains the seeds of an infinite number of non-solutions, so that first part really isn't super helpful.
TomasB
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Here in Sweden it's actually the opposite. 7 numbers from 1 to 35 are chosen in "LOTTO" and the sequence 1234567 is quite common for people to gamble on. Remember that it is enough if just _one_ more person selects that sequence for your winnings to be cut.

/Tomas
sirbrad
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Wrong. I been playing, studying, and tracking the lottery for years. I recently won $5,000 as well, and I play very moderately. Just because a certain combination has the "same chance" as another, does not mean it is most likely to occur. Many people who actually play the lottery, and who do not have any real knowledge about it, play numbers such as 1,2,3,4,5,6 and other common, and predictable sequences, and dates. So if you actually win, you may be splitting a jackpot with thousands of others.

The lottery goes by "trends," and "averages." That is why 1,2,3,4,5,6 has never came up yet in the history of the lotto. The way the numbers are set up, and how many of them there are, it is almost impossible. Especially considering the fact that there are only 9 single digit numbers, and usually about 40-46 other double digit numbers. So what "has the same chance," and is "most likely to occur," are two very different things. Do an internet search regarding lotto sites, and they will explain this in much detail.
The great trouble with magicians is the fact that they believe when they have bought a certain trick or piece of apparatus, and know the method or procedure, that they are full-fledged mystifiers. -- Harry Houdini
Munseys_Magic
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Sirbrad,

Interesting post, but pure math and logic would, respectfully, prove you wrong. No lotto combination is "most likely to occur" precisely BECAUSE they all "have the same chance." Period.

Jim
Jim Munsey
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http://www.MunseysMagic.com
sirbrad
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Maybe so, but "reality" proves otherwise. As far as your "theory" goes, we are still waiting for it to happen, even though it has the same chance. That combination has yet to come up in the entire history of the lotto, ALL games included. It really takes a great understanding, and exclusive study of the lottery for many years to truly understand it. Lottery players who are serious about their study play what is most likely to occur, they do not gamble on other numbers that have almost no chance of ever coming up.

You can bet almost 100% of the time you are going to see a healthy mixture of all the "decades," as opposed to one digit "ones" in numerical order. Again, reality has proven it because it has not even happened ONCE! Ever. You are far more likely to see 5,12,24,35,45,52 than ever seeing 1,2,3,4,5,6. Check out this article for more about the 1,2,3,4,5,6 combination. http://www.lotto-logix.com/txthouse/opportunity.html
The great trouble with magicians is the fact that they believe when they have bought a certain trick or piece of apparatus, and know the method or procedure, that they are full-fledged mystifiers. -- Harry Houdini
Munseys_Magic
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Ummm....... Yes, but there are also MILLIONS of other combinations that haven't come up. This one (1 2 3 4 5 6) just stands out because it means something to us.
Jim Munsey
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Munseys_Magic
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Jim Munsey
Munsey's Magic
http://www.MunseysMagic.com
rgranville
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Okay, we're talking about a lottery system where you have to choose 6 numbers from 1 through 40, right? And the order the numbers come up don't matter, right? Then the number of different possible combinations is (in math geek terms) 40C6, which is
40!/(34!6!) Again for the non-math geeks, "!" means "factorial," not excited numbers. 3! = 3 x 2 x 1 = 6. 4! = 4 x 3 x 2 x 1 = 24. 40!/(34!6!) = 3,838,380. That's how many different combinations are possible.

Sirbrad observes that the combination 1,2,3,4,5,6 has to be less likely because it's never come up. Well, if you ran this lottery every week, with 3,838,380 different possible combinations it would take 73,815 years to get every combination, and that's if NO duplications occur (which is an unrealistic assumption). The odds are VASTLY against you seeing 1,2,3,4,5,6 in your lifetime - but that's also true of 2,4,6,8,10,12, or 7,12,19,24,29,38 for that matter, or any other specific sequence.

I happen to come from a family of six children. Our birthdays are 11,13,16,25,27,30 - a pretty random mix (except that each number HAS to be below 32...) I think that if you investigate the history of the lottery, you'll find this combination has "not even happened ONCE! Ever." Sirbrad's "reality" does NOT prove that 1,2,3,4,5,6 is less likely than other combinations - just that the odds of seeing ANY specific combination is absurdly small.

As for the psychology of whether one sequence is more popular than another and therefore the prize would have to be split in more ways if that sequence hits, well, that's psychology, not math. Smile

:banana:
sirbrad
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Actually most pick 6 games are of the 6/49 matrix, but the powerball is 5/55-1/42 I base my own theories on past results/tracking, and how much I have won using my own system. But you're right, I look at it more so from a psychological viewpoint than just simply logic one. This has netted me more profit in the long run.
The great trouble with magicians is the fact that they believe when they have bought a certain trick or piece of apparatus, and know the method or procedure, that they are full-fledged mystifiers. -- Harry Houdini
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