Sep 15
18:02

2007

Steven Gillman

Are there lucky lottery numbers? Yes and no...

Lucky lottery numbers? Do they really exist? Well, there actually are numbers that give you better odds, as I'll show you below. But this isn't about luck in the sense of some mystical force or power. Oh, there are ways to be "lucky," meaning more good things happen to you, but they are based on experience and science, not magical powers. The science of probabilities is what comes into play with those lucky numbers.

To understand why some numbers are "luckier," than others you have to understand event-odds and investment-odds. Suppose you bet on a number on a roulette wheel in your local casino. With 38 numbers on American wheels, you have a 1-in-38 probability of your number being the one that comes up, so we would say that the event-odds, which refer to the probability of a specific event happening, are 1-in-38. Except in the case of biased wheels, they will be the same for every roulette game.

Now, what if a casino paid you 40-to-1 when your number won? They normally pay 35-to-1, so which casino would you like to place your bets at if there were several to choose from? Perhaps the one that pays more? Even though the odds of your number winning haven't changed, you get paid more when you win. You have better investment-odds at that casino, because the relationship between the event-odds and the amount you win is more in your favor. Now you understand investment-odds.

Don't worry about the calculations necessary to demonstrate this for now. The principle is what's important. If the event-odds are the same, but the payoff is higher, you have better investment odds. How does this relate to lucky lottery numbers?

This is easier than simple math. In fact, no math skills are required.  You just have to understand why some lottery numbers pay more on average than others when they come up. But how can this be true?

Well, it's all about your husband's birthday, or your son's, or your own. Birthdays are used more than anything else to determine which lottery numbers to bet on. And, in case you aren't getting a clue yet, there are no months with more days than 31, so the numbers below this get bet a lot. On the other hand, lottery numbers typically go up to 40. Players usually choose six numbers and must match all six to win the whole jackpot.

If many lottery players are betting birthdays, and far fewer betting the numbers from 32-40, what does this do to the odds? It does nothing to the event-odds. All the numbers are still equally likely to come up. For example, as strange as it seems, the numbers 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6 are just as likely to come up as any other combination. Why then, does it matter which numbers you bet on?

You win more on average when betting the numbers that fewer people bet, which are the ones between 32 and 40. Why? Because the jackpot will split more often and in more ways with the numbers below 32, since more players bet these. You get the same event-odds betting the lower numbers as the higher ones, but if you win that ten-million-dollar jackpot on the low numbers you're likely to get just six-million, or even three-million if it splits four ways. This makes 32 through 40 your lucky lottery numbers.

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