Picking Better Lottery Numbers… Or Not!

picking lottery numbersI saw it again today. It makes no sense. But every self appointed half baked expert seems to want to regurgitate the same rubbish. And these are the people who want you to pay them to tell you how to select your lottery numbers..!

To avoid any chance of being sucked into the myth, I’d like you to suspend your normal perception of how a lottery works. Imagine the lottery draw is made using a lottery machine, full of lottery balls as normal, but there are no numbers on these balls – no markings at all in fact. In this draw machine there are 49 little balls but each one is a different colour – reds and greens and yellows and blues. But no other markings. None.

So, you win this lottery by picking colours from a colour chart – a bit like the old fashioned way of choosing paint (before we had clever ‘pick anything you want’ colour matching and mixing machines!). If six balls the same colour as the ones you chose get drawn, you hit the jackpot… and then you can start thinking numbers again, very big numbers 🙂

Now would it seem sensible to you that the chances of any combination of 6 colours being drawn out of the machine, is exactly the same as any other combination of 6? Would it make sense to that there is no better chance of Red and Yellow and Pink and Green, Orange and Purple appearing..? Even though you may recognise the pattern of colours as being most of a rainbow (can you Sing A Rainbow Too 😉 ?) it doesn’t mean they are more likely to appear!

So can anyone tell me why so many ‘lottery experts’ throw out combinations such as 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, or 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, 35 or 7, 14, 21, 28, 35, 42 on the grounds they are ‘unlikely combinations’? Yes, our brain sees a pretty pattern, just like the rainbow, but those balls don’t know anything about them being a pretty pattern. Neither does the draw machine. So just because you allocate a number to a ball instead of a colour why on earth would that make it less (or more!) likely to jump out of the machine.

So next time you see anyone selling a lottery system that claims to pick better numbers, can you please send them an email asking them why they exclude combinations like 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. Then send their answer to me so I can laugh as another self proclaimer expertly shoots themselves in the foot.

[Footnote: There is a reason not to select certain combinations of numbers, but it has nothing to do with chances of winning. More on that another time.]

37 Comments so far ↓

  • Mike

    Lottery Guy, I want to know which numbers come out most often in most drawings based on your study in lottery 6 numbers game?

    • LG

      Do you mean based on all 6 number games around the world..? If so, I don’t have those stats — and I don’t see how they would be useful to you?

      If you mean for a specific game, then there are tools to track historical results and attempt to detect any bias that may be presenting itself – my lottery strategy group membership includes one.

  • Willie Freeman

    If I got some old lotto numbers I haven’t used in about 1 year should I play them?

    • LG

      There’s no reason numbers that one person hasn’t played would be any more (or less) likely as a result of not playing them. Any players decision to play or not play certain numbers has no direct effect on the draw machine.

  • Street Biscuit

    Why isnt all lotto wheels giving me the right combination when I have added all the winning numbers in my selection.

    • LG

      It depends greatly on the wheel you are playing – not all wheels are created equally! If it was a full wheel then you would have the winning combination, but full wheels are expensive to play so are not used very often. Most people use wheels with a minimum win guarantee, i.e. you get a certain win level if you match a certain number of balls from your pool of numbers. It is possible to create wheels that are fairly useless, so you do need to know what you are looking for to avoid the bad ones. Have a look at Bluskov’s book (here) for some state of the art wheels.

  • Desmond Bradley

    Hi ! I agree that there are useless sets of numbers in a wheel because to play the probabilities there are a lot of combinations outside the norm. So some games in a wheel can be eliminated. Sure you could miss in one draw but we play the probability over a series of draws. I know because I use a lot of factors that help me lower the cost of a wheel.

  • Daryl

    Hi there, in a lotto game say 1 to 50 numbers. There are low/high numbers from 1 to 25, and 25 to 50. Avoid choosing only high numbers as it’s very rare for 6 high numbers or 6 low numbers to come up.

    Choose 3 low and 3 high, 2 low 4 high, 4 low and 2 high combinations and also discard 1 low 5 high and 5 low 1 high. Play lotto with less numbers say 6 from 25 or 38 and 40. Cheers

    • LG

      Sorry Daryl but this is actually a myth. Unfortunately choosing high/low numbers in this way makes no difference at all.

      All combinations are ‘very rare’, because there are millions of them (over 15 million in a 6 from 50 game) – and only a few thousand draws have ever been made in even the longest running games.

      Playing games with less numbers will of course help though 🙂

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