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Should I Play The Same Lottery Numbers In Every Draw?

This 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?

Should I Play The Same Lottery Numbers In Every Draw?

• Grace Osabu-kle

Hello lotto guy,
I have a lotto number for lotto 649 that i used to play on and off. I did not play last week and 5 of the numbers came up. Should I keep playing those numbers or should I change them at this point.

• The fact most of them came up last week does NOT in itself make them any more or less likely to come up this week. So the answer really depends on why you chose those numbers in the first place.

• Grace Osabu-kle

Hello Lottery Guy,
I asked you in an earlier conversation that if 5 out of the 6 numbers I play for lotto 649 has come up in a draw, is it okay to keep playing the same numbers or should I change them. The numbers are from a quickpick I bought last year July. I used to play them on and off. I did not play them last 2 weeks and 5 of the numbers showed up. I love those numbers but I am now confused now that 5 out of the 6 numbers have shown up.

• Think of it this way – if you roll a dice and get a 6, does that mean your chances of rolling a 6 again are now less likely?

[Answer: No, because there are still 6 sides on the dice so your chances of another 6 are exactly the same. Assuming a perfectly random dice.]

• Sherry

The Florida lady who was one of the winners of a large Powerball jackpot said she had been playing her numbers for years, before they finally came through for her.

I say… hang in there! Maybe sooner or later those numbers you have been playing will come up 🙂

• Giuseppe

Powerball takes 25 to 30 years to win with the same number strategy.

(Amended from ALL CAPS)

• What are you basing ’25 to 30 years’ on Giuseppe?

There are 292,201,338 combinations for the US Powerball (that’s over 292 million). And Powerball is drawn twice a week.

So even if a different combination came out every draw and none were ever repeated — it would still take 2.8 million years for every combination to get drawn.

30 years is only 3,120 draws.

A better Strategy would be to reconsider your game choice 🙂

(P.S. Please don’t type all in capital letters! 🙂 )

• Ray

If what you say is true, then in 38 number roulette your chance is 1/38. But your chances of the same number showing twice in a row is 1/38^2 or 1/1444. So which is it? 1/38 0r 1/1444? If it’s 1/1444 then you’re better off by far using the same number repeatedly.

• Let me answer it a different way :-). Your chances of picking ‘the same number twice’ are exactly the same as ‘picking any number followed by any other number’.

But if you want to put maths to it…

Say you pick number 1 twice in a row. Your odds of picking correctly are 1/38 on the first go, and 1/38 again on the second go. So the odds of being right BOTH times are 1/38 x 1/38 = 1/1444.

Next, you pick number 10 followed by number 20. Your odds are 1/38 of getting number 10, and then 1/38 of getting number 20. So again, your odds of picking right both times is still 1/38 x 1/38 = 1/1444.

So unless you have a reason to believe a certain number has a better chance of coming up then it doesn’t make any difference at all 🙂

• Ray

Then randomly picking any number is the same thing as playing the last winning number again which makes your overall chances, over the two games, 1/1444; the second game is the one actually played so your overall actual chance is 1/1444 even with each game being 1/38.

What is the likely percentage of success if you repeatedly use the same number for 38 games?; 100 games?; 200 games?

What is the likely percentage of success if you repeatedly use a new random number, for each game, over the same number of games?

Does the percentage increase, stay flat or decrease?

[…trim….]

What you are advocating is the same as saying, “if you are lost in the woods and you want to be found, it doesn’t make any difference if you hug one tree or wander around aimlessly hugging trees at random you’ll be found just as quickly either way.” Or in combat saying “it’s just as likely that you will be hit if you stay low and keep moving or if you stand up and stand still”.

Since you and many others advocate that it doesn’t make any difference one way or the other, but there are also many advocates that say that it does make a difference, using the same numbers until won is a reasonable technique.

Let’s agree to disagree.

• I think the key point you’re missing is that each draw is a unique event. There is no dependency between them. (Your original question was about being right twice in a row)

So ‘the one actually played’ is always 1/38, no matter what has gone before it, no matter if you repeat your choice or not. How can it be any different, either way you are still choosing 1 out of 38 possible results?

Sure, there are many people who advocate that this is wrong, but that’s only because they don’t fully understand the math 🙂

• Grace Osabu-kle

Sometime ago I told you that 5 out of 6 numbers I have been playing for lotto 649 came up and I did not play. I wanted to know if I should keep playing those numbers. I got them initially as a quick pick selection. This Wednesday I bought another quickpick lotto 649. 4 of the numbers came up and I won \$99.30. I want to know should I keep those numbers and replay them each draw since it brought me good luck or should I move on and select other numbers?

• The short answer: Some of your numbers coming up (or not) does not in itself make them more (or less) likely to appear again. Just like when you roll a dice. So another quick pick is no better or worse than playing those same quick pick numbers again.

Longer answer: But that assumes a perfectly random dice, and draw. So if your only reason for playing them was because they were randomly chosen as a quick pick, then there is no solid reason to keep playing them. Nor is there any strong reason to select other numbers either :-). If you follow my Strategy Course you may have other reasons to be playing the numbers you choose, which would determine how you continue from here. Otherwise, you’re really just basing your decision on superstition. Numbers are only really ever ‘lucky’ after the draw is over and you see that you’ve won 🙂

• Ibrahim

The real question is: Are the draws computer controlled now?

• Some are, some aren’t. But it’s a not a secret, so if you’re not sure just ask your lottery company 🙂

• Megan

How difficult do you think it would be to write a paper for Statistics on this idea. Having the null hypothesis be using the same numbers each draw will result in …say… more of your numbers being drawn over X amount of time. The alternate hypothesis being that letting the machine pick your numbers each draw will. Let me know what your thoughts are. Thanks!

• The tricky part is generating the data. You need a quick pick generator and a way to simulate a lottery draw – both comparable to the real thing. You could use historical results but you may well find there just isn’t enough history.

You also need to consider computer based draws versus mechanical ball based draws. It’s also pretty easy to scale down and start with say picking one number from 1-10. But you’ll need to read up on random number generation (in particular pseudo random numbers etc).

• Jonathan

Hey LG, are there really benefits to playing with wheeling systems? Is it better not to play them? Thanks

• Wheeling is definitely useful – just massively over-hyped and often sold with some very dodgy claims by certain people who sell wheeling systems…

Just make sure you use well designed wheels (there is a lot of garbage out there). I recommend Bluskov’s wheels as he’s an officially recognised expert in this field of mathematics. And bear in mind that it’s useful, not magic! 🙂 There is a lot of more important stuff to get right first.

• Grace Osabu-Kle

Is it true that quick picks provide the worst odds of winning the lotto? I have been playing both quick picks and my own numbers for both Lotto Max and Lotto 649. I have not won much playing my own numbers. I have won \$86 and \$99 playing quick picks. I now feel I should play quick picks but most of the literature I have read warns you not to play quick pick. I have witnessed many people win with quickpick. Please I want your opinion.

• If we assume for a moment that lottery draws are perfectly random. Then no, there is no difference between a quick pick and a combination picked any other way. They would have exactly the same chance of winning.

But there are various reasons why you would want to pick your own numbers however, e.g. you want to use a wheeling system. There are other reasons to avoid quick picks too (think in terms of sharing jackpots). But if you’re just picking numbers randomly yourself vs. using quick picks – one is no better than the other. Your test is too limited to prove things one way or the other.

When looking at how many people win using a quick pick you need to also consider how many people buy tickets that way before you can draw any useful conclusion. If 99% of the tickets sold were bought that way, then you’d expect most of the winners to come from quick picks.

• Grace Osabu-Kle

I don’t mind sharing the jackpot with others. I prefer the quickpicks because with that method I can decide which DRAWS I play. What I hate about choosing my own numbers is once I select the numbers, I WANT TO KEEP PLAYING THE SAME NUMBERS. This means I have to play every draw for fear they may show up if I miss a draw. I don’t want to live that way. It is too expensive. Also it may take next draw or a million years for my numbers to show up. I can’t afford to waste money doing that. I hope it is okay to play the quickpicks.

• You should mind sharing – if you’ve picked the right game to play.

Yeah, the lottery companies do like it when people get superstitious about ‘playing their numbers’. I know what you’re saying but as the post above says – sticking to the same numbers doesn’t improve the chances of them coming up, so it doesn’t really matter. They’re just not your numbes when you don’t play them.

• Jesse

What waste of money? How much money are we talking here? If \$10 week of lotto money is a waste, then you should not be playing at all…

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