# Another lottery question

If I win the lottery, I have to split with anyone else that has those same numbers. So, I want to pick numbers that are NOT picked by anyone else. I usually avoid lower numbers that can be used for birthdays, but I’m looking for statistics.

Does anyone publish statistics about which numbers are picked the least? More specifically, number pairs or number triplets. State lottery web sites are pretty mum on this.

Those low numbers are just as likely to come up as any other ones, so you aren’t really helping your chances by avoiding them.

If you want to guarantee yourself a larger slice of the pie, just buy two tickets with the same set of numbers - you’ll get two shares for every else’s one.

No, this makes sense. Assuming all possibilities are equally likely be be selected, the highest expected value is for combinations that other people are unlikely to choose.

Never seen any statistics about popular numbers, but I do know that there are such things.

Ayup, the California Lottery has just such a tool for Mega Millions: http://www.calottery.com/Games/MegaMillions/WinningNumbers/numberfrequency.htm

He’s not asking for numbers the most likely to come up. He’s asking for numbers least likely to be picked by other people so as to minimize the chances of splitting the pot.

Your link shows how often each number has come up in the lottery itself.

By “popular numbers,” i believe Telcontar was talking about numbers that people select more often than other numbers. For example, because lots of people choose birthdays, the numbers 1-31 are probably more likely to be chosen by lottery players than the numbers 32 and over. And if they use not just days but also months, that means that the numbers 1-12 are even more likely to be chosen.

Yes he is. He is increasing the chances that if he has a winning number, it is less likely to be shared with someone else. It has no effect on his chances of winning in the first place, but he knows that.

I had a coworker in the early 90’s who was trying to come up with a program on the lottery. He was researching data available and the Canadian lottery did publish data on the frequency of numbers played as well as winning numbers. I don’t know if this is available anywhere else.

Also, consider number selection is going to be somewhat game-specific, too, based on how the number grid on the ticket to select your picks is shaped.

Many years ago, there was an article in Scientific American on this, regarding IIRC the lottery in Boston where you pick 3 digit numbers out of 999. They pointed out logically that 777 was a bad number to pick. I think they used historical winning data since the size of the payout gives you a good idea of the number who selected that pick; if that is still the game and the data is still available, a good start especially after this many years of historical data.

The answer was what the OP was asking; the more random, obscure combinations paid higher. Triples were bad, famous 3-digit numbers or euphonious combinations paid lower. Of course, sometimes the numbers are in the news (like 9-11?) so some combinations are popular or unpopular for a time.

they simulated playing with the computer,m and actually came out ahead - but mainly due to one lucky(?) win which would have paid big.

Any analysis along these lines is guaranteed to be self-defeating. If you can devise a system for picking unpopular lottery numbers, then chances are somebody else will come up with the same idea, and just like that your unpopular numbers are suddenly much more popular. The only way to avoid collision with other human beings in your lottery number selection is to be as inhuman in your selection process as possible, so random generation with a sufficiently random algorithm is your best bet.

Which, unfortunately, is still a pretty bad bet.

This is a terrible idea. If you’re the only winner, then you’ve just paid twice as much for the same prize-- That’s bad. If there’s one other winner, then you’ve paid twice as much to get 2/3 of the prize as you would have spent to get half, so you’re doubling what you paid to get 33% more-- That’s also bad. If there are two other winners, then you’d get half the prize instead of 1/3 of the prize, or 50% more, and so on. No matter how many other winners there are, you’re always doing less than doubling your money.

Sure, proportionally. But if the jackpot is \$30 million, and the choice is between spending \$1 to get \$15M or \$2 to get \$20M, the value of that second dollar looks pretty good. If the entry cost is trivial (as \$1 is for most people), the cost-benefit analysis you describe sort of falls apart.

Or for \$1 you can needle your friends by telling them “I’m going to play your favorite numbers too so if you win, I get half!”
Well, they used to be my friends anyway…

I have all the winning numbers from both the Canadian 6/49 and the Super 7 (now the Lotto MAX) lotteries.

Originally, I found a list of 6/49 numbers online and started collecting the numbers from there and did the same with the Super 7 when that lottery started.

My plan was to come up with a Visual Basic program that could predict the winning numbers but I quickly realised that, even if it could be done, my knowledge of statistics was not up to the task.

Nonetheless, I’ve continued to collect the numbers to this day, you never known when it could be usefull.

I recall reading some years ago about a guaranteed system to win the lottery. The biggest problem with the “guarantee”, of course, was that it took something like 120 years to be certain to win.

Anyway, one thing that was mentioned was that the system involved buying tickets when the jackpot was low, less than \$10-20 million. When the jackpot is lower, fewer people buy tickets, and so your chance of splitting the jackpot is reduced. Stands to reason that, when fewer people buy tickets, ALL of the numbers are less popular than when the jackpot hits \$300 million and everyone and their dog buy tickets.

I would rather split a multi-million \$ lottery prize, than not win at all.

Sure, but picking obscure numbers doesn’t affect your chance of winning at all. It only affects if you do win the chances of having to split the winnings.

So the question isn’t would you rather split a multi-million dollar prize or not win at all, the question is would you rather split a multi-million dollar prize or keep it all to yourself. If you’d prefer to keep it to yourself, picking obscure numbers is better (still terrible, but better).

Ontario Lottery and Gaming posts statistics on winning numbers here. Note that Lotto Max is only a few months old, so the frequency numbers are probably not yet stastitically significant.

But that still doesn’t mean that it’s better to win a small prize alone than it is to split a large prize. Your analysis assumes that the number of people who play large jackpots is dramatically higher than normal, and that it will therefore actually reduce the prize paid to each winning ticket. I’m not sure exactly how many people buy tickets, but the history of winners dosn’t support your argument.

In the history of the Mega Millions, the most tickets that have ever split a single jackpot is three, and they shared \$227 million. Which would you prefer, a one-third share of \$227 million, or a whole share of \$20 million?