## The Only Lottery Advice You’ll Need

Lotto 6-49 is the most popular lottery in Canada (I think). In short, one picks six numbers between 1 to 49 and if all six numbers match the draw, then he or she wins the jackpot.

The estimated jackpot for this Saturday’s draw is 55 million which is why I’m going to go buy a ticket for the very first time. The probability of winning the jackpot is 1 in 14 million and each set of 6 numbers costs $2. Therefore it makes mathematical sense to buy a ticket only if you can take home 28 million *after* taxes and everything else. Here the math is simple, but boring and it won’t tell you how to pick the numbers.

However the psychology aspect is more interesting and can help maximize your winnings. The only advice that works is *to pick numbers that no one else will pick*. Let’s say you pick 1-2-3-4-5-6 and the draw is also 1-2-3-4-5-6. Congratulations you just won the jackpot! However how many other people do you think picked the same set of numbers as you did? Probably a lot which means you would have to split the winnings among everyone else. The set of numbers 1-2-3-4-5-6 has the same chance of being drawn as a random set such as 3-14-24-28-39-47 so if the latter set was drawn, chances are you won’t have to share the jackpot with anyone else.

An incident like this happened in the March 19, 2008 draw (you can view previous winnings numbers here). The winning numbers for that draw were 23-40-41-42-44-45 with bonus 43. As it turns out 239 people picked 40-41-42-43-44-45 meaning they matched 5 plus the bonus number which would normally win a prize of at least $100 000. However due to the number of winners, each person took home only $1193.70. Furthermore the people who matched only 5 of the numbers (without the bonus) won $2223.40, nearly double the 5/6+ prize (thanks Tim for the find). Just imagine matching 5/6+ numbers (the odds are over 1 in 2 million) then finding out you have to share the prize with 238 other people.

Also make sure you have at least two numbers above 31 and at least four numbers above 12. Many people pick dates and months (eg birthdays, anniversaries etc…) when choosing their numbers. Furthermore don’t pick sequences like 5-10-15-20-25-30 or even 1-6-11-16-21-26 because some people find these numbers attractive and will also pick them. Other sequences such as 2-3-5-7-11-13 (prime numbers) and 3-5-8-13-21-34 (Fibonacci numbers) are probably chosen a lot too.

Lotto 6-49 has a chart of the frequency of each number drawn. This data is public and even though each draw is an independent event, many people refuse to believe that fact and will choose the six most frequent winning numbers or six least frequent winning numbers or a combination of both. This is also the same reason why you shouldn’t choose the previous set of winnings numbers. There’s bound to be some people who will try that. I recommend you take the time to make sure no more than three of your numbers fall within any of the sets I mentioned above. It may be inconvenient, but that extra five minutes could be the difference between a $1 000 000 prize and a $10 000 prize.

May the odds be ever in your favour.

## On Password Recovery Questions

Email (and bank) accounts are probably the most important accounts one has. If one’s email is hacked, then all other accounts (eg Facebook, Twitter, WordPress etc…) associated with that email are compromised since all a hacker has to do next is to go to any site then request a link via email to reset the password and he or she will have access to those accounts too.

Password recovery questions provide users a convenient way to access their account in the event they forget their password. All people have to do is to correctly answer the question and they will be prompted to enter a new password. However many security questions used to recover passwords are terrible and provide anyone with a *back-door* way to hack an account. After all why would a hacker bother guessing the password when it’s easier to guess the answer to the security question? Let’s look at some…

*What high-school did you attend?*

Anyone browsing through my blog will realize that I’m from Vancouver. A two-minute google search will tell you that there are only twenty high-schools in Vancouver.

*What is your favourite pet’s name?*

Here is a list of the most popular names for dogs and cats if you need help guessing…

*What is the first musical instrument you ever played?*

This is one of five options as a password recovery question for my UBC Student account. For one, I’m asian so take a wild guess as to what instrument I first played at a young age…

*Where did you meet your spouse?*

I don’t like this question for a different reason. Imagine yourself several years from now looking back at this question. Will you remember the exact answer you put? You could have put *Starbucks, **cafe, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada etc..*.

*What is your mother’s maiden/middle name?*

This also applies to the names of grandparents, fathers, siblings etc…Children are usually given family-related middle names (at least in my experience when I discuss this with friends). That’s not hard to find on Facebook.

*What is your favourite sports team?*

If you’re from Chicago, the answer is probably *Chicago Blackhawks, Chicago Bulls *or* Chicago White Sox*. If not then it might be *New York Yankees, LA Lakers,* *Manchester United* etc…

Interestingly enough, the only sites I’ve seen use password recovery questions are email and bank accounts. As such I recommend removing that feature unless mandatory. Also here’s a website for you to check how secure your passwords are.