Using Mathematics to Win the Lottery

Every American dreams of hitting the big time. The national and state lotteries in the USA, are exactly the kind of instant gratification that personifies the American public. While there are no "sure fire" ways to win the lottery, it is important to know how you can sway the odds in your favor even modestly. If you dream of lavish mansions, and private chefs, or even if you are only a casual lottery player, this article is a must read.

Probability, is defined by Merriam-Webster as: "the ratio of the number of outcomes in an exhaustive set of equally likely outcomes that produce a given event to the total number of possible outcomes (2) : the chance that a given event will occur."

The majoroty of us are highly familiar with the basic principles of probability. They are simple formula's we learned throughout our primary education. In case you forgot, if you take a penny out of your pocket right now, and flip it one hundred times, there is a fifty percent chave that the coin will land heads up, and a fifty percent chance that the coin will land tails up. While probability is a fairly defined sequence of events, what is not often taught, is human ability to control probability.

The great American humoritst Mark Twain once said "There are lies, damn lies, and statistics." Twain was ahead of his times in both literary endeavors, and statistical probabilities. Although Twain had no formal mathematical education, he understood in great detail that statistics were untrustworthy because of their ability to be maipulated by human beings; they are also susceptable to human error.

A good example of this is a common problem seen by many political pollers. A poll taken in a heavily Democratic district, will likely produce numbers skewed towards the Democratic Party; while the same is true of a poll taken in a heavily Republican district. The way that pollers try to work around this issue, is by locating "Independent Samples." While this is a novel cause, it is equally shaky in the validity of it's returns, because anyone can say they are independent.

While probability of association can be tricky, probability of statistical, numerical evidence is highly reliable. For example, take the above reference to the penny experiment. Could you skew the probability that the penny would land heads up, or heads down, thereby improving your ability to guess the outcome of the experiment? Of course. What if we took a piece of putty and stuck it to the "tails" side of the coin? Physics would dictate that the heavier side of the coin would be pulled in a downwards trajectory more often than the lighter "heads" side of the coin. If you did this, then your probability changes. You are now looking at more of a 95% chance of "heads."

So how do we take this and apply it to real world events like the lottery? Simple, we skew the numbers so that we can improve the probability in our favor. The majority of people who buy lottery tickets for the popular game "Powerball," will use the random number slection called "Quick Picks." This is all well and good, and according to Lottery statistics gives you a 1 in 100,000,000 chance of winning the jackpot, but those numbers are a little outlandish for my mathematical sensibilities.

Let's examine how we can narrow this statistic in our favor. Powerball consists of six numbers; five primary, and one "Powerball." Like the game of BINGO, Powerball, has five primary numbers ranging from 1 to 59, and one Powerball, which ranges from 1 to 35. That means your chances are approximately 1% to 3% of getting your primary numbers to match the random drawing, and less than 1% chance of choosing the correct Powerball, not very exciting. What is important to note with these numbers is that these chances are actually better than your overall chances of winning the prize in a randomized setting. So how do we put this all together? Sit down and develop five numbers. Do not choose numbers that you will be tempted to change later. Many Americans choose age, astrological numbers, and many other numbers that tend to change on a daily, or annual basis; this is a trap, and will reduce your chances of winning even further than the chances reported by the Lottery.

With your five unchanging numbers, choose one Powerball number between 1 and 35. Do not change this number! Write these numbers down, and ALWAYS pick the same numbers. Do not waver, even if you don't win, this increases your chances of success in the following ways:

While the primary numbers will always be a lot harder to narrow, the Powerball can be manipulated. There are approximately 26 Powerball drawings annually. 26 drawings, 35 numbers. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to see the narrowing of the numbers in this respect. The other piece of the formula is simple, statistically, your sequence of primary numbers must come up eventually. Is it going to be your first try, probably not. But you can rest assured that you will have better odds in selecting a standard sequence rather than a random sequence.

While this formula does statistically narrow the percentages of probability, I must stress that gambling is gambling, and you play at your own risk. This is in no way a promise of large winnings.

You can apply this mathematical technique to the popular "scratch-it" style games as well. The way to do this is simple. Most people buy random numbers of different scratch-off games. Don't! Instead, purchase X amount of a particular scratch-off. Scratch-off's are distributed in large rolls often containing more than five hundred tickets. The winners are distributed into these rolls randomly by the computer that prints and rolls the tickets. The jackpot for that particular roll (although not the lottery "Jackpot"), could be the first, fiftieth, or final ticket on the roll. The only way to narrow those odds, is to continously purchase from the same roll.

When selecting which roll to pick from, try the least popular. Look for the roll with the most tickets left on it. Purchase exclusively from this store, off of this roll, playing only this game. More than likely, there is a winning ticket equalling in excess of \$1500.00 on each roll, if you are anything like my grandmother, you will buy up a whole roll within thirty days.

The name of the game in the Lottery, is narrowing the odds. If you can narrow the odds, then you can make winning that much more achievable. I suggest studying more about oddsmaking, and statistical probabilities.