## Patterns in Lottery Numbers 563 563

markmcb writes

*"Most everyone is familiar with the concept of the lottery, i.e., random numbers are selected and people guess what they will be for a cash prize. But how random are the numbers? Matt Vea has conducted a pattern analysis of the MegaMillions lottery, which recently offered a sum of $370M (USD) to the winner. Matt shows that the lottery isn't as random as it may seem and that there are 'better' choices than others to be made when selecting numbers. From the article, 'A single dollar in MegaMillions purchases a 1 in 175,711,536 chance of landing the jackpot ... a player stands a mildly better chance of winning a partial prize through the selection of weighted numbers.'"*Includes some excellent charts of his analysis.
## "math" is the wrong tag (Score:1, Insightful)

## So It's Pretty Darn Random Then? (Score:5, Insightful)

These differences aren't that compelling. To me I would say, "Congratulations, you have found some deviation from equal frequency for all balls. But this would happen in any instance of drawing these balls."

I'm concerned that this has been an exercise in deviation in pseudo random systems. The same could be done with a computer simulation and similar results would be found.

I hate to say it but this study points out to me that the lottery is actually pretty much as close to random as it could get. In fact, the summary of the paper states that

ifthere were some event to skew this, then you could achieve a small bonus:## Re:And yet, one truth escapes the analysis (Score:3, Insightful)

I have participated in both lotteries (and have won up to $1000 in them, and made more than I ever spent).

I have also participated in raffles - and won similar payouts.

As to the lifestyle impact, it is a provable truism that most maximum payout winners do not actually improve their lives.

It's like when I got an inheritance - the best thing you can do with that is max out your retirement funds and pay off debt, and then put much of the rest in paying down your mortgage. Most people blow it, though.

The difference between being rich and poor is usually how much you save and what you buy. Lottery tickets can be a fun diversion, cheaper than getting drunk, but they are not a wise use of cash.

## Re:And yet, one truth escapes the analysis (Score:5, Insightful)

e.g. One dollar a week == no lifestyle impact; $370MM payout == off the charts lifestyle impact.

## yes, indeed there *Are* patterns (and not) (Score:5, Insightful)

And if you look up in the night sky, you'll see an archer, a bull, a big and a small dipper.

What's your point?

## Re:Conclusions... (Score:5, Insightful)

## You can't lose if you don't play (Score:5, Insightful)

At the astronomical odds against winning, I figure my chances of finding a winning ticket on the ground are only marginally worse than my chances of buying a winning ticket. So rather than give extra money to the government so it will be funnelled to politically connected rich people, I just watch the ground.

-mcgrew

## Missing data (Score:5, Insightful)

While you can analyse the numbers that come up, the

interestingdata isn't usually available to you: namely what numbers people are betting on. For example in the UK lottery it is known that about 10,000 people a week bet on 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. So that automatically is a really bad choice because if that combination came up, you would get £prize / 10,000.Example: if lots of people bet on (eg.) birthdays, then you'd expect the people to select numbers > 31 less frequently, which means you could try to cover bets with numbers > 31 and have a greater payout. Without the distribution of betting numbers though you can't tell.

Rich.

## Don't play the lottery, play the players... (Score:3, Insightful)

Rather, observe the following. When a progressive jackpot gets large enough, a single winner would have a positive expectation value, but multiple winners have negative value.

Thus what you need to do is not pick something that is "more likely", you need to pick combinations that normal players would NOT choose, as your odds of winning are the same, but your odds of having to share a win go way down.

EG, something like 7 8 9 10 11 12 13

Given the raw stream of what numbers people choose, there are probably lots of such "less likely" patterns you could use.

## Ummm.... (Score:4, Insightful)

2) You don't get an edge in the lottery by picking numbers that are more likely to come up; you get it by picking numbers that other players are

lesslikely to choose (e.g. >31), so that you don't have to split your win with as many others.## Re:And yet, one truth escapes the analysis (Score:4, Insightful)

You're already losing by buying the ticket.No, not really. Your state is getting paid revenue (supposedly for education around here - not always).

Which is just the excuse they used to get it through.

But money is the ultimate fungible commodity. (That's its whole purpose, after all.) Any amount that the lottery puts into the schools the state government can neglect to put in when they set the next budget. So the effect is that the lottery money goes to the pet projects of the legislature (in a roundabout-on-paper fashion).

Also, you are getting a chance to win the Jackpot...Yep.

For the smaller ones the payoff is small enough to not matter. Further, the odds are short enough and the players play often enough that the payoff quickly approaches the expectation - usually $0.50 for every $1.00 played. (They take your money and give half of it back in chunks.)

For the big jackpots the odds are typically in the ballpark of being hit by lightning 10 times. And while the payoff typically has a "half the pot" number, it's paid out over a long enough period that you're just getting the INTEREST on the payoff, while the state keeps the principal, making the effective value much lower. (In some cases you have the option to select getting a much lower payout right away, which proves the point...) And then the federal government takes a cut. So the expectation is 'WAY less than $.50 out for every $1.00 in.

Lotteries are a voluntary tax on innumeracy (mathematical illiteracy).

## Re:Conclusions... (Score:5, Insightful)

Thats like 1/.48^13th.

Random things.. happen.

Randomly- some poor investing sod out there has made every choice correctly and been hammered by random market events.

Likewise- some lucky fool (that thinks he is brilliant) has picked google or tasr or crox on some non-logical basis and won big.

That's why you use Mutual Funds and ETF's. You get average performance. You lose the home runs, but you also lose the strike-outs.

## Re:You can't lose if you don't play (Score:5, Insightful)

## Blinded by the glamor (Score:3, Insightful)

You have to admit that driving to work 5 days a week has less of an impact (good or bad) on someone's lifestyle than getting killed in a car crash does (again, good or bad).

That the odds of ending up terminated on a highway are far higher than getting an "off the charts lifestyle impact" lottery payout doesn't seem to affect anyone's choice in making that daily drive.

## Re:Basically a regressive tax (Score:2, Insightful)

Just because you probably won't win doesn't make it worthless. Try buying a ticket. Go on, you won't get addicted to gambling, but you might have fun

## Re:Conclusions... (Score:5, Insightful)

Thats like 1/48^13.

Random things.. happen.

And guess what? Last night in Vegas, the roulette wheel spun this:

Red, Black, Black, Red, Black, Red, Red, Black, Red, Red, Red, Black, Red.

That's like 1/.48^13th.

A lot of people would be better off in understanding "randomness" if they would just realize that these two situations have exactly the same probability. Humans just assign more "meaning" to certain sequences than others.

## Re:Conclusions... (Score:2, Insightful)

But your example has 8 reds and 5 blacks. The other example had 13 blacks. As far as the probability of any particular SEQUENCE, yes, these probabilities are the same. But there are MANY possibilities where there were 8 reds and 5 blacks, but only ONE possibility with all 13 being black. So the two situations, if you look at it purely in terms of how many reds and blacks were hit, are very different.

Or to put it another way, the chances of getting 13 blacks in a row are 1/48^13. The chances of getting 8 reds and 5 blacks, in SOME order, is far higher than that.

## Re:And yet, one truth escapes the analysis (Score:1, Insightful)

## Re:This article is useless (Score:3, Insightful)

In other words, if I flip a coin 10 times and see Heads 10 times, that's not a guarantee that the 11th time will be heads; in fact, the probability of getting 11 heads is so small that you'd be better off betting on tails.Classic Gambler's Fallacy. How on earth could previous coin flips influence the probability of the current flip? Try brushing up on your own statistics, instead. There are plenty of GOOD criticisms of this guy's work -- yours isn't one of them.

## Re:You can't lose if you don't play (Score:2, Insightful)

Right on the Gov't, wrong on Enron. It's Social Security accounting.

1) pay money into the general fund, but allocate it to a "fund" that only exists on paper

2) Loan the money from the phantom fund to the general fund - i.e. to itself

3) the general fund pays interest to the phantom fund - i.e. to itself

4) when the phantom fund goes negative, pay the principal back from the general fund - i.e. to itself

5) ?

6) Lockbox! Err, wait...Profit! No...errr...how does this work again?

## Re:And yet, one truth escapes the analysis (Score:3, Insightful)