Some lottery players don’t wish for luck, they make their own. Yet a string of recent “lotto hackers” in North America did not use high-tech gadgetry like the kind found in Hollywood films, but a knack for spotting patterns and exploiting loopholes.
Earlier this year, Wired magazine explained how, back in 2003, a consultant statistician in Toronto, Canada learned to predict which Ontario Lottery scratch cards were winners. He suspected the winning cards weren’t randomly assigned but the result of “pseudo-random number generator” software. Indeed, he discovered that a scratch card containing a row of certain numbers were almost always winners.
Meanwhile, a former mathematician recently won the Texas Lottery for the fourth time, netting her $20 million, after reportedly exploiting the use of pseudo-randomness.
Techniques that produce truly random sequences, such as selecting balls from a box or others based on “thermal noise”, would eliminate these susceptibilities.
But pseudo-randomness had nothing to do with a third case in Massachusetts, where a couple have taken nearly $1 million in the state’s lottery so far this year. Despite winning numbers in this game being truly random, the weakness the couple exploit arises in the weeks after no-one wins the jackpot. According to reports, the extra money in the prize pool is poured into smaller prizes and by buying at least $100,000 worth of tickets in such a week ensures a profit.
While there’s no such trick or loophole to ensure a win in tonight’s (Tuesday, May 8) Oz Lotto draw with a prize pool jackpotted at $70 million. It might be advantageous to know the set of numbers that have been most commonly drawn over the past 15 years.
National Lottery in the UK has done the legwork by analysing all of its previous lottery draws in the 15 years to 2009 to reveal the “luckiest” and “unluckiest” numbers of all time.
According to the results, the luckiest number of all was 38, drawn 209 times in 15 years. Number 23 was the second most commonly drawn number at 199 times. Rounding off the top six “luckiest” numbers were 31 (198 times), 11 (198 times), 43 (197 times) and 25 (196 times). The “unluckiest” numbers over the same period were 20 (drawn 144 times), 41 (150 times), 13 (155 times), 16 (155 times), 21 (159 times) and 15 (161 times).
At the time of revealing these numbers, National Lottery spokesperson, Sam Weren, said the idea of lucky numbers is one that has been around for thousands of years.
“Although all legal lottery games give every number the exact same chance of being drawn, statistical fluctuation can throw up some interesting results that some people interpret in superstitious ways. For example, the number 13 is often thought of as being rather unlucky, so when we see that it is one of the least drawn numbers since the start of the Lotto draw, it catches our eye,” he said.
“The good news for Lotto players is that any number that helps to win a prize is very lucky for the player concerned, so our advice is to go with your instincts and hope for the best”.
So what will you do with the winnings? Pay off your mortgage, or splurge on a round-the-world holiday, or invest it in a secure term deposit? We’d love to hear your thoughts.