Basic Lottery Question

Do your odds of winning the state lottery change whether you use ‘quick picks’ or you play you favorite numbers every week? Are there statistics that show that one method is favored over the other?

Did you ever hear the axiom “dice have no memory”? Assuming a fair draw, picking your numbers at random yourself or having the computer do it for you will not result in any increase in your odds of winning.

Now, if the computer picks them for you and the random number generator is not totally random, that may increase the odds of having to share with others more frequently in the event of a win, but that still does not affect your odds of winning.

Your odds are exactly the same, no matter what method you use to choose the numbers, assuming the lottery drawing is fair.

Well, some states such as California will not assign the same combo of numbers to two quick picks unless all possible combos have been doled out. In this case, picking the quick pick might offer better odds, however it does not take into account the fact that any player can hand pick those same numbers and will have the same raw chances of winning as you do.

The other side of that is that people tend to pick favorite numbers, and favorite numbers are very often birthdays and other important dates. As such, a set of lottery numbers that win that only include numbers 31 and below have a higher chance of being split amongst other people than a set that includes at least one above 31.

That wouldn’t improve your odds of winning.

You’re right-- just improve your odds of keeping the entire jackpot if you do win.

Randomly picked numbers won’t increase the odds of winning, but it will increase the expected value of your wager, due to the prize sharing and greater chance of picking the same numbers as someone else.

May I piggy-back a follow-up onto this lottery thread? (Seriously, I don’t know, as sometimes a related question gets merged with a mild rebuke.)

Are those people who win big and show up for press conferences and photo ops required to do so? Or - can they remain anomalous if the choose?

No, they can’t remain anonymous. It’s stipulated in the lottery ticket that you agree to abide by the contest rules - one of which is making yourself publicly available for promotional crap.

However, there’s no requirement that you behave a certain way, so if you act like a jackass sourpuss I’m sure they won’t bother with you. No one wants to see someone frowning and drooping their shoulders at a photo op when they’re receiving a 20 million dollar check.

It is perfectly legitimate to form a blind trust and have the lottery win accepted by a designated representative of the trust, thus maintaining your anonymity. There are certain rules with doing it that way, of course, but if it’s that big of a win it won’t be too much for you to deal with, and it might not be legal in all states.

I read somewhere that people will play numbers such as “1, 2, 3, 4, 5” guessing no one else would do that and they’d be the only winner. Apparently though a lot of people think that so, in reality if that came up, you’d be splitting the winnings a lot of ways.

Exactly. Odds are the same, but people have a tendency to pick non-consecutive spaced out numbers, pick multiples of seven, pick “lucky numbers” like birth months and dates, etc. I’ve read (although nowhere could I find a source) that anywhere from hundreds to thousands of people play the combination “1,2,3,4,5,6” so if that number comes up (and, hey, a jackpot is a jackpot), you’ll probably be looking at getting at most a 1/100 share of the jackpot.

According to thisarticle on the UK National Lottery:

So, since people are poor random number generators, playing quick pick should, as Sanity Challenged says, increase the expected value of your wager as you’ll be a little less likely to split your winnings or you’ll be splitting your winnings with fewer individuals.

I was told that once the California lottery was in fact won by the number primted on fortune cookies. There were 300 winners. Lottery officials suspected fraud until the truth came out. (The truth being that they were all idiots, having to split the pot 300 ways).

Can anyone confirm or deny?

It’s close.

I assume you meant there’s a “lesser chance of picking the same numbers as someone else” if you use truly random numbers. This lesser chance of sharing the prize leading to a greater expected value of the bet.

And, since it should be pointed out at least once in the thread, the vast majority of the time, the expected value is negative – on average you’re going to lose money on lottery tickets (“Duh, how else do the lotteries stay in business”).

That’s not true for Powerball. A few years ago someone bought a ticket with multiple (five, I think) quick pick combos and two of them were identical. While mathematically that is about the same as winning the jackpot, IIRC the guy didn’t even get a $1 refund for the redundant ticket. If he won, he would have to split it with himself.

That’s more or less what’s listed in the advice here (page is SFW, but site [] is generally NSFW, so watch subsequent clicks). It’s a awesome idea if it works.


Illinois Lottery Administrative Rules

“For purposes of press conference requirements, the claimants are the ultimate recipients of the prize, such as the beneficiaries of a trust, the partners in a partnership, or the members of a club or group.”