When Is Random Really Random..?

When you’re playing the lottery random matters. Because you want to know that you have a fair chance of winning. There are an awful lot of peopl…

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When Is Random Really Random..?

45 Comments so far ↓

  • Bruce

    Your absolutely right. Random is Random.

  • Babacar

    Hi LG,
    Whilw i was reading your blog and Michael’s question, I was pretty much convinced that he was right questioning the fairness of the lottery system.

    However, your explanation below his question makes so much sense that I have to agree with you that random picks can bring any sequence of numbers. It makes even more sense when you said that the random pick was not generated in sequence… I did not know that the machines sort them out for printing.

    Sorry Michael, but you have no cause here… your pick is random…

    Be lucky… :-)))

  • Rosheil

    Hello I just wanted to know what do I have to do to get in on jackpot winnings

  • Dave Barlow

    I would agree with Michael’s suspicions of the lotto company producing impossible numbers to pump up the revenue on the next draw, and frankly think a lot of them do it. It is naive to think otherwise. It is a multi-million dollar money spinner, do you think they really play by the rules with that much at stake?

    I have tried questioning our own Camelot on the timing of their draws (why over an hour after the terminals close?), and just got fobbed off. With super computers it is possible to find what is, or isn’t selected. It is, frankly, naive to pretend otherwise.

    • LG

      Hi Dave,

      But they make a lot of money if they run a fair draw. And risk losing everything by doing anything dodgy. So why would ‘a lot of them’ risk it? Far from naive – it simply doesn’t make any sense..?

      And that’s before you begin to look at the various levels of audit that would surely make it impossible in any practical sense.

  • Richard Burson

    Of course quick picks are random. The computer exercises a random number generator that is likely seeded every day with a different number. This is done to assure that each quick pick is unique.

    I have done a statistical analysis of all the Ga Fantasy 5 numbers picks since 1/1/2001. I can assure you that this generates a beautiful bell shaped curve which is exactly what would be expected over a long period. Years ago, I did an analysis of the Fl Fantasy 5 and came to the same conclusion.

    Now I did play the Ma lottery a few times several years ago and did pick 5/6 and won $5K. Missed about $50M by one number.

    If I were playing the lottery, which I don’t, would I have a selection of some numbers over others… you bet. Would I ever win 5/5, highly unlikely. Would I win may 3 or 4 of 5, yes, on occasion, and maybe better than quick picks too. But you can be sure that I would end up losing money.

    If you want to gamble then pick something other than the local lottery.


  • Raymond

    I also agree that random is what it is, when you select a lotto dip for example, then that’s what you get and quite frankly there are a significant number of winners who select random numbers. I for one use a random numbers generator system and whilst it has not produced anything as yet, well, that’s why I enjoy playing lottery.

    Lucky Kiwi

  • Gary Farms

    Hi Lottery-Guy:

    You claim that any 6/49 pick has an equal chance of winning. I disagree and here’s why:

    The pick 1,2,3,4,5,6 has a sum of 21, the lowest possible sum in a 6/49 game. Also, 44,45,46,47,48,49,50 has a sum of 279, the largest possible sum.

    Most picks obviously will be in between 21 and 279, since 21 and 279 constitute only 2 of the approx 14 million possibilities. This means that if you plotted the probability of each sum from 21-279, you would find that most 6/49 picks would fall in the range of approx 118-187 for a 6/49 game. This constitutes a bell shaped curve. The 118-187 range constitutes most of the area under the bell shaped curve. 21 and 279 are at the extreme ends of the tails of the bell shaped curve.

    Therefore, picks in this 118-187 range have a greater likelihood of winning. Correct?

    Another 2 advantages is to play 2-4 odd or 2-4 even, and 2-4 high or 2-4 low where low= 1-24, high = 25-49.

    If you look at previous 6/49 draws, you will see that these above combos are much more likely to come in.

    It’s all mathematical probability – and irrefutable. Therefore, doesn’t this prove that there are things that a player can do to increase his odds of winning? Doesn’t this dispel the notion that any pick is equally likely to be drawn? Think about it.

    Please respond. I have always seen these above examples as proof that all picks are really not equally likely.

    Please let me know your thoughts and feelings. Thank you so much.

    • LG

      Hey Gary

      The key problem with this is simply that you don’t win anything for matching a sum. You only win if you match the actual numbers drawn. And the chances of that one combination coming out are no better no matter how many other combinations match that same sum.

      Which also applies to any pattern matching approach to picking numbers – odds/evens, high/lows etc.

      Remember, the numbers are only there to help identify which tickets win. They could just as easily put 49 differently coloured balls in the machine, and we pick colours instead. It’s the same game – but suddenly all those mathematical sounding analysis methods don’t make sense any more…

      • Bowie

        Hi LG,

        The thing about using coloured balls is exactly my point about why current mathematical knowledge and analysis, as we know it, fails to predict random numbers – note I said random numbers and not lotto numbers which is but a subset of all random events generated in the course of human and natural activities/phenomena.

        So how about if we re-think the foundations of mathematics? What if mathematics had taken a different turn in its notation, numbering system, analysis etc. That is a question that Stephen Wolfram has tried to pose in his “A New Kind of Science” and it is the question I am trying to pursue as explained on my blog. My search is still esoteric, alchemic if you wish, but isn’t all knowledge that we have distilled thus far in human history all begin like that (unless you presume it was given to us on platter from the gods). And talking about gods, if indeed there is a supreme designer out there (which I believe there is), I suspect that He does not play dice and that he choses to reveal further insights into his being to only those that keep asking, seeking and knocking.

      • LG

        I’m not really sure what your point is..? If we just reinvent maths entirely then we can predict the lottery??

        Yeah, I don’t see it.

      • Baba


        I did read your comment more than ten times, and could not figure out what you are trying to say…

    • Leo

      You omit a fundamental point when you say that you see these “above examples as proof that all picks are not equally likely”.

      If one set of picks shares a common pattern, and a second set of picks shares another pattern, then if there are more picks in the first set than in the second set there is a higher probability that the winning pick will be a pick from the first set than from the second. This is perfectly true and what you have described with your examples, but the fundamental point you are omitting is precisely that there are more picks in the first set than in the second, so you are not increasing your chance by picking from the first set than from the second!

      Let me give an example. For simplicity, let’s say you are playing a simple lottery where you must find one number between 1 and 100. According to your reasoning, there will be a higher probability of winning by picking a number between 1 and 90, because there is 90% chance that the winning number will be between 1 and 90. But you are omitting the fact that when you pick a number between 1 and 90, you have 1 in 90 chance of winning out of the 90% times when the winning number is between 1 and 90. If instead you pick a number between 91 and 100, you have 1 in 10 chance of winning out of the 10% times when the winning number is between 91 and 100. In both cases, the probability that your pick is the winning number is (1/90)*0.9 = (1/10)*0.1 = 1%.

      This is exactly the same with the 6/49 picks you referred to. Out of all possible picks there is a majority of picks whose sum falls between 118 and 187, so in the majority of cases the winning pick will have a sum between 118 and 187, this is perfectly normal and expected. But you don’t increase your chance of winning by making a pick whose sum falls between 118 and 187, because there are more picks whose sum falls between 118 and 187 than picks whose sum does not.

      In the cases when the winning pick has a sum that does not fall between 118 and 187, you have zero chance of winning if your pick’s sum is between 118 and 187. You have a higher probability of winning if the sum of the winning pick and of your pick do not fall between 118 and 187, than if the sum of the winning pick and of your pick both fall between 118 and 187. Any advantage you think you may have by picking a sum between 118 and 187 cancels out.

      There is a tiny probability that the winning pick has the same numbers than your pick, but when that happens you have a 100% probability of winning. Be it 1-2-3-4-5-6 or 15-22-31-33-36-45.

  • Isabelle

    Interesting. I am not an advocate of the quick picks, but I also have not won anything substantial either. My son and I have chosen to make our own random generator and we will see after we have tried it for a while if it works any better that simply picking numbers.
    Will let you know.

  • Mickey

    If Michael’s ticket had been a big winner, I’m sure the question posed would be moot. He would have cashed it in and said; “Thank You Lottery for picking such crazy numbers”.

    I’m sure they have enough people picking consecutive numbers and laying down their money that they don’t have to manipulate the quick pick numbers.

  • Judex

    The Public would probably like to see the following before a Draw:

    1. The balls are subjected to a magnetic field to prove that the balls are neutral.
    2. The balls are subjected to a weight scale, again to prove that the balls are neutral.

    With modern technology, can a Draw be fixed in advance? We know that the Lottery People earn a lot of money and do not need to pump more, but let the Public be at peace according to the tests in 1 and 2 mentioned above.

    • LG

      But how would you know the tests were genuine? Wouldn’t it be easy to fake the magnets and weighing scales..?

      At some point you have to trust things in life. There are a lot of checks and measures in place with all lottery games anyway. But bottom line – if you don’t trust the lottery operator, then it’s best not to play their game 🙂

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