# 1-2-3-4-5-6

Three questions

Am I incorrect in assuming that in a Lottery where 49 numbers (for example) are drawn randomly (mechanically), my microscopic chances of winning the Jackpot become infinitesimal if I pick six consecutive numbers? For all I know, I would have the exact same chance (no more no less) if I chose at random.

Why is it that certain numbers seem to come up more frequently than others over a given period. Pure coincidence?

I heard it said that when you ask the computers (owned by the Lottery authorities) to choose the numbers for you, your chances are even less because some of the numbers selected come up less often. Any truth in that?

You are incorrect.
The odds of 1-2-3-4-5-6 or any other simple pattern coming up are exactly the same as any other set of six numbers, if the contest isn’t fixed. However, you are far more likely to have to split a winning jackpot from a simple pattern selection than if you choose more random numbers. There are a lot of people out there who have less imagination than you…
The “runs” of certain numbers are due to, as you said, taking the results from “a given period.” Taking a larger sample will show that these “runs” will balance out. Numbers that seem to come up less often are the other side of this same situation.

Dr. Fidelius, Charlatan
Associate Curator Anomalous Paleontology, Miskatonic University
“You cannot reason a man out of a position that he did not reach through reason.”

That’s assuming that the probability theory holds true. However, as stated, it’s only a theory & thus not yet proven accurate. whew.

Statistician on a program on NOVA once put it this way.

If you stand on the top of the World Trade Center (either one) and know that someone has put a Dixie cup somewhere down below, in reach of your coin, and you toss a quarter over your shoulder off the top, your chances of hitting the Dixie cup are TEN TIMES greater than your chances of winning the lottery.

'nuff said, sucker?

The chances of hitting the Dixie cup may be right, but in so doing, your chances of getting arrested for doing this are much higher. As for me, a \$4 a week lotto habit is worth the dreams of riches that it buys, even if it is only a dream.

Probability is a purely mathematical theory. It is based on a few assumptions, such as if there are two equally likely outcomes of a certain event (e.g. tossing a coin), then each outcome has probability of 1/2.

Like all mathematical theories, probability works as long as the assumptions are true.

So far in the real world it has stood up. How do you think Las Vegas makes its money? Casinos do not cheat, they just shift the odds in favor of the house. And in the long run, everything settles to its correct odds.

Probability does seem kind of soft. I mean, flip a coin ten times and you might get ten heads, and that 1/2 probability kinda turns to jello. But flip a coin an infinite times (about 100+ times is sufficient), and the probability converges to 1/2. But as any professional gambler knows, the law of probability is hardcore. You might as well try to jump off a cliff and fly than try to beat the house.

¾È ³ç, ÁÖ µ¿ ÀÏ

Way back in my misspent youth, I worked at a convenience store that sold lottery tix (I was in Missouri at the time and they had lotto long before Texas, where I am now). One week the winning six numbers had four in sequence, I think it was 22-23-24-25, and two other numbers. No one won, but can you imagine if you let the computer pick your numbers and came up with that combo? You’d raise holy hell and refuse to buy the ticket.

(while I was working there I once decided to buy ten scratch-off tickets and then decided to get nine tix and a coke…the next person to buy a ticket won \$500. Expensive soda.)

Probability theory seems pretty iron clad to me, but not randomness. I’ve always understood that no computer is able to create truely random numbers on its own. For scientific research that requires truely random series of digets, they use the decay of a radioactive element to pick numbers, but I doubt that the Lotto uses that. Is any of this right, or have I been misled?

That computers cannot generate truly random numbers I’ve heard somewhere also.

Randomness is a strange beast. Probability comes close enough to describe it, but not exactly.

Anyhow, probabililty is close enough so that Las Vegas can make boatloads of money.

In a casino, the pit boss often shuffles dealers and replaces cards during a night. Ummm…, I have a lot of thoughts on this but I’ll just end with: randomness is a strange beast.

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Computers don’t generate random numbers. They use a function which generates numbers which have qualities of randomness; however, you will get the same exact series of numbers from the formula every time. So the function is “seeded” with a number to start the sequence in a different spot. Usually the current time in seconds is used to seed the function. This is random enough for most applications.

Lotto drawings are not done by computer. The one in Texas (and I believe most others) are done with an elaborate contraption that bounces numbered balls around and spits them out one a time. Every few months they change the balls out. More often if one number is coming up frequently.

Mastery is not perfection but a journey, and the true master must be willing to try and fail and try again

Stating the obvious - The thing that keeps them coming back is: if you don’t choose any numbers at all your chances of winning are a big fat zero.

True, but your costs of playing are also zero.

www.sff.net/people/rothman

My probability professor taught us that Las Vegas casinos would make money even if the odds weren’t stacked in their favor. Why? Because people dream of “breaking the bank”, and generally this would meaning winning more than they have to lose. For example, you go to Vegas with \$500 and promise to stop playing when you run out. (Disregard addiction for the moment.) Generally, you don’t put an upper limit on winnings. Even if the odds were exactly even, you would be very likely to hit your lower limit at some point and have to stop, while you may have hit \$500 in winnings earlier, but decided to keep playing.

Time for a question that I hope is not too far off-topic: In the James Bond movies, 007 always wins at gambeling. Does he cheat, or is he just really lucky?

“I had a feeling that in Hell there would be mushrooms.” -The Secret of Monkey Island

zyada, true computers don’t generate random numbers, but many now use latent typing speed and mouse movement to generate the nesassary pseudo-random number, rather than a clock cycle pick, is closer to true random.

## Diceman, Bond is what the writer wants him to be…Still, he has a very good eye for odds, and is an expert cheat if he needs to be; the Original story that Moonraker was based off of (Can’t remember title.) has him cheating at bridge.

>>while contemplating the navel of the universe, I wondered, is it an innie or outie?<<

—The dragon observes

This is probably true. Vegas tilts the odds on the house side to protect itself against professional gamblers. These people know realistically how much they can win with a certain bankroll.

But the average gambler is a dreamer, and will eventually lose. They are the biggest contributors to the Las Vegas pot.

I find nothing wrong with it. Gambling has great entertainment value. But like anything else, it shouldn’t be abused.

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Actually, aren’t you more likely to get tails than heads, since the heads side is heavier?

Okay, now I’m curious:

The local paper prints every week what are the most commonly selected numbers. Me, I’m a random sorta girl, so I always let the computer select them. Am I being a fool? Are my odds really increased by playing the most selected numbers as reported?

Greg Charles wrote:

“My probability professor taught us that Las Vegas casinos would make money even if the odds weren’t stacked in their favor. Why? Because people dream of “breaking the bank”, and generally this would meaning winning more than they have to lose. For example, you go to Vegas with \$500 and promise to stop playing when you run out. (Disregard addiction for the moment.) Generally, you don’t put an upper limit on winnings. Even if the odds were exactly even, you would be very likely to hit your lower limit at some point and have to stop, while you may have hit \$500 in winnings earlier, but decided to keep playing.”

Greg, I hope your memory is faulty, because this concept is fallacious. One way to see this is to look at things from the casino’s point of view. Suppose the house has no edge. Then, on any round of betting, the casino wins as much as they lose. The dice and cards and roulette wheels don’t know which customer is over or under some limit. So, the casino breaks even and the customers break even (on average).

Try enother explanation: Suppose that you are betting on flips of a coin. You win or lose \$1 depending on how the coin comes up. At any point in time, your expected (average) result is zero. It just doesn’t matter what your stopping rule is.

A similar conundrum involves the sex of new babies. Suppose that parents in some country are partial to boys, so they continue having babies until they have at least one son. It might seem that more boys than girls would be born. However, bear in mind that each birth is a 50-50 of either sex, so in fact the same number of each sex is born. (I am ignoring the fact that babies are slightly more likely to be boys, but am assuming 50-50.)

[[Time for a question that I hope is not too far off-topic: In the James Bond movies, 007 always wins at gambeling. Does he cheat, or is he just really lucky?]]

He’s lucky and he’s good – but I’d rather be the former any day.