Home > Bulletin, Life > The Only Lottery Advice You’ll Need

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.

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