One of the surest ways to lose money in the long run is to play the lottery every week. The more you play them, the more likely you are to meet the overall probability of the game you're playing. The odds are never in your favor.
Regardless of where the money raised from the lottery actually goes, it boils down to a tax. A tax on people who don't understand, or who willfully ignore, statistics.
One of my teachers in high school played a pick-three game. He had a number of theories he relied on to pick his numbers. Some of them were based on whether or not the previous few days had any repeating digits. He told me about this, and I said that what the number were yesterday has no bearing on what they are today. (Even as a high school student, I got this.)
Well, to this day I'm sure he thinks I'm full of baloney. The next day, that good ol' boy won over $400 on the pick-three game. (“See? I TOLD YA!”)
Another guy (a laundromat attendant) was absolutely convinced that people who live in New York City have a lottery advantage over the rest of the state … because more people live there. I wish I were joking.
But if you play the lottery anyway, at least do it right
But, I will concede that people should be free to spend their money as they see fit, and if you've calculated that buying a $1 lottery ticket gives you at least $1 worth of entertainment, there would likely be nothing I could say that would convince you otherwise.
So, here's a tip for maximizing your moonshot. I can't offer any advice on picking winning numbers. But I will share some advice on how to pick numbers that, if they are the winning numbers, will be more likely to net you the entire jackpot.
Don't choose numbers in any kind of simple pattern.
You should never bet on that kind of sequence … the odds of any sequence from 000000000 through 999999999 has an equal probability. And if the prize is the same for all winners, it's fine. But, for shared prizes, you will find that you just beat 10 million to 1 odds only to split the pot with dozens of people. To be clear, the odds are the same, no argument. But people's bets will not be 100% random. They will bet your number as well as a pattern of 2's or other single digits. They will bet 1234567. I can't comment whether pi's digits are a common pattern, but the bottom line is to avoid obvious patterns for shared prizes.
Here are a few ways to do this:
- Use a random number generator. A real one. Don't ask your buddies at work. Random.org is a good one.
- Use numbers from a variety of sources that are significant to you. The numbers can have significance to you. (Why not? They're as likely to win as numbers that you hate.) Just make sure they don't paint any pretty patterns on the card when you fill them in.
- And please … PLEASE! … don't choose the same numbers as your friend for the same lottery. Sorry. You didn't need me to say that.
Happy picking, if that's your thing.