lottery questions

How Do You Avoid Combinations That Will Never Win The Lottery?

This is actually one of my favourite questions about the lottery.

There are a number of lottery software products available that claim they can eliminate bad combinations of numbers for you. That is, sets of numbers that will never get drawn - such as 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 or sequences like 3, 6, 9, 12, 15, 18.

There are also a lot of serious lottery players out there that spend a lot of time and effort doing the same thing.

The Problem

I have a big problem with this approach.

Yes, it is a nice feeling to be able to cut down all those different combinations to something more manageable. But what logical basis is there for eliminating any combinations?

Why do we think 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 is less likely to appear than any other combination?

We usually think this for one of two reasons.

1. It has never been drawn before so why should it be now?

It is true that this combination has never been drawn. But did you know there are millions of other combinations that have never been drawn too? And most of those are simply dull looking sets of numbers with no special pattern to them.

How can this be?

Most lottery games have been running for a lot less than 50 years. So there has only been a few thousand draws.

A lottery game typically has millions of possible combinations. Even a 6/49 lottery game has over 13 million possible results.

Even if no result was ever repeated, and it was drawn twice a week, it would still take a 6/49 game over 134,000 years for all the possible results to get drawn out. So it really isn't a surprise that any particular result has not yet happened.

2. Six consecutive numbers is so unlikely you would be a fool to choose it?

It only looks unlikely because we recognise a very familiar pattern. After all, we've been learning that pattern since before we even went to school.

Please don't forget those numbers are simply markings on some balls. And those balls are what come out of the machine, not the numbers. If we removed the numbers from all the balls would it make those 'bad combinations' more likely to be drawn again?

So next time you see someone claim they can give you a better chance of winning by getting rid of all those bad combinations, ask them why they think those combinations are less likely. Then tell them why they are wrong.

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