Should You Pick Number 38 on the UK Lotto?
If you've read the UK papers recently, you'd be forgiven for thinking the UK Lotto have just given you the best Christmas present ever! Because an official report from really clever mathematicians has concluded the number 38 is far more likely to be drawn than any other number. That does amazing things for your jackpot chances... if it were true of course!
If you dig beneath the headlines though, and apply a little logic, the real 'non-story' appears.
Two members of the Royal Statistical Society were asked by the UK National Lottery Commission to examine results of the UK Lotto draw. The report 'The Randomness Of The National Lottery' was actually published back in 2002. It analysed results from 637 UK Lotto draws up to January 2002.
One of the observed 'anomalies' was that the number 38 had been drawn 107 times - 14 times more than the next most-drawn ball. Astounding the casual observer might think. Perfectly normal I say.
In a truly random draw, odd looking results are perfectly valid and normal. If 38 could NOT have been drawn 107 times out of 637 draws there would truly be something wrong.
Think dice (always makes the numbers easier!). If you threw a dice 5 times and got a 6 every time, would that mean there is something wrong with the dice? It would be unlikely so you probably wouldn't bet on that result (unless the odds were great!), but it's perfectly possible. You'd have a case for suggesting there COULD be something wrong with the dice, but just because an unlikely result happened does NOT prove that theory! Same deal with the UK Lotto.
If you actually look at the recommendation from the report, you'll see the mathematicians made the same observation. They found a less than likely result, so suggested that the number 38 balls be examined to reassure the public that the result were truly random. It's not clear if an examination of the balls was performed, but to be on the safe side it's extremely likely! And a UK Lotto spokesman has now, correctly, confirmed the observation to be consistent with a random draw. But of course, that doesn't make an interesting newspaper story!
So should you pick 38?
Not any more! And here's why:-
Firstly, because there is no reason to believe 38 is more likely to be drawn in future. It's perfectly possible (only unlikely) that it may not appear at all for another 637 draws!
Secondly, now that millions of less savvy UK Lotto players have read how 38 is far more likely to be drawn, imagine what will happen if 38 is drawn. Yup, it's now very likely any jackpot from a line containing the number 38 will be won by thousands of people. All sharing the prize. All very disappointed at having won the smallest jackpot in history!!
So play wisely instead: increase your chances by playing more lines, and aim to avoid commonly picked combinations. Other than that, cross your fingers and good luck!