Should I Play The Same Lottery Numbers In Every Draw?

same lottery numbers every drawThis is one of those lottery questions that can make your head spin. Should I play the same lottery numbers or change them? It can turn your brain inside out if you overthink it…

If my numbers haven’t come up yet, surely they are more likely to in future, so I should stick to playing my selected numbers right?

If I keep changing my numbers isn’t that like two lots of numbers changing, making it even harder to win?

Sounds plausible. But sometimes we can overanalyse a problem!

The fact is, mathematically speaking past results have no bearing whatsoever on future results. Why would they? Because underneath all those lovely numbers… it’s just balls.

(Even if they seem to make those pretty patterns when you really, really look for them…)

They’re just little round balls bouncing around inside a draw machine. And those balls have no memory. They aren’t all polite and considerate, and therefore take it in turns to be drawn! They don’t know or care about the ‘law of averages’.

So is it better to keep playing the same lottery numbers every week?

Each draw is a unique, random event. So it actually doesn’t matter (but keep reading below because that’s not the whole answer).

In pure maths terms if you play the same numbers each draw, or change them every week – it makes no difference at all.

Because each set of numbers always has exactly the same chance of being drawn. And each draw is a single unique event. Simple as that.

So if you like the the numbers you have chosen, by all means keep them and play them every time. It won’t do you any harm.

But equally, if you like changing your numbers once in a while, or every single draw – feel free, because that isn’t going to hurt you either.

Two Things To Note However…

Firstly, creating perfect randomness is not easy (just ask a programmer). That’s why I said ‘mathematically speaking’ about 3 times :-).

So if you are choosing certain numbers because you think they are a little bit more likely to appear than others – for real physical reasons – then you will probably prefer to stick with those numbers. At least for a time. (You can learn about this kind of thing and lots more in my Lottery Strategy Group).

Secondly, there are some reasons to avoid picking too many of certain types of numbers (clue: think popular!), but I’ll talk more about those reasons another time.

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129 Comments so far ↓

  • Gene

    Hello,

    How did people like Joan Ginther and Richard Lustig win multiple times?

    • LG

      In Joan’s case partly from playing wisely (she has a math Ph.D.) and partly from spending a huge amount on tickets. She played scratch-offs so simply worked out which were the best ones to play at any given time. There’s a lot more to this than most people realise – see my scratchies tips for more on this. And then she bought big, really big.

      Richard Lustig is a different case. Firstly he’s won a heck of a lot less than Joan, and less than most people realise (see his wins listed here). All the evidence indicates it’s just a combination of luck and buying a lot of tickets – note that he hasn’t reported any wins since 2010 (when he started selling his book).

  • Grace Osabu-Kle

    Dear lotto guy,
    4 out of 6 of a set of numbers I play for lotto 649 has showed up. I played the set and I have won $86. Should I keep playing the same numbers now that 4 of the numbers in the set has showed up. In A PREVIOUS DRAW 2 of the numbers showed up and I won a free ticket. My hunch tells me it must be my lucky numbers and I want to keep playing them. what do you recommend?

  • Pat

    I would like to know if you increase your odds of winning by taking out a few of the highest and lowest numbers. I.e. You can choose five numbers between 1 – 34 but you only play 5 – 30.

    • LG

      Not unless you have a very good reason why you’re choosing only from that reduced range of numbers.

      Think of it this way. If you roll a dice but decide you’re only going to guess from numbers 2 – 5, have your chances of being right changed?

      Unless there is now a reason why 1 or 6 cannot be rolled, or are less likely to be rolled, then your odds are still 1-in-6 of being right.

  • Grace Osabu-Kle

    Is it better to play the lotto every draw or choose to play only certain draws? I find it too expensive to play every draw so I want to wait for when the jackpot is high to play a couple of tickets.

    • LG

      It depends on your overall strategy really. But there’s nothing specifically wrong with targeting only certain draws.

      • Giuseppe

        I won’t risk playing by targeting certain draws – I rather play all draws just in case my numbers come out.

        If you are playing Powerball or Megalotto you need a timeline of 30 to 25 years, and you can pass it to your son or daughter the numbers you had been playing so it will not be wasted.

        (Amended from ALL CAPS)

      • LG

        That’s just superstition though really :-). It just doesn’t work like that.

        There is no ‘memory’ to the draw. So (in simple terms, but read the post) a result that hasn’t happened in 50 years is still no more (or less) likely than the one that got drawn last week.

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