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Steady Winning in a Lottery?

6 June 2013. Various resources such as articles, guides or SW demo versions often occur on the Internet and promise stable winning or improved winning chances in a lottery. Nothing in the world is completely accidental, they say, and thus some special codes or dependencies can be observed to raise winning chances.

Winning in a lottery is a nice idea. Although it is very unlikely to win a top prize or a jackpot in a lottery, it is not impossible. You may be lucky, since chance is a mighty wizard. However it is essential to distinguish between (1) winning and (2) steady winning. The first thing says that you can win the jackpot even by your very first lottery ticket. The second statement indicates that you can hardly keep winning in a stable way if you keep betting every day.

There are games in a lottery or gambling industry, whereas a house edge can be calculated precisely based on theory of probability and there is nothing you can do about that. For instance all lottery games, Roulette etc. belong to this category.

Players often swear to some historic statistics and seek for dependencies and patterns that "cannot be a work of chance". For example they suppose that if some numbers come out more often, they are more likely to re-appear in the future, or, on the other hand, they watch over so called sleeping numbers. Those are the numbers that have not appeared for a long time or not at all, so the players wait for them to wake up. Some claim that this targeted betting offers better winning chances than a "clueless" betting.

However it is a completely unjustified expectation, since the probability of any number to come out is still the same in every single drawing. The fact that a number occurred, how many times or not at all, has no influence in the long-term period. There is e.g. a saying in Roulette: "Roulette has no memory". No betting systems nor codes based on historic data or on any other indicators, can reverse or decrease the implicit house edge (it means in other words to raise winning chances of a player).

Let us add that there are also opposites to the games above such as sportsbook, whereas there is no precise house edge calculation, for example to determine the result of a football match. A bettor may be winning steadily if he is more successful at forecasting of results than a bookmaker of a betting company. However there is also a margin of a betting company that plays against the bettor and decreases fair odds, but a truly excellent bettor is able to seek opportunities and overcome this barrier as well. Now let us go back to the games, where the house edge can be calculated exactly.

Let Us Play a Simple Game

Let us play a simple game. I am a banker and flip a coin. A bet is $1, heads or tails. If you are successful, the win is 50 cents net (the initial bet would be returned to you). This payout is quite regular in lottery games. Now it may happen that you manage to win 8 times out of 10 games played and end up in the black. That is possible as chance plays its role in a small number of attempts (in a short period of time).

However what is a likely result after, let us say, 100, 1,000 or 10,000 rounds? It gives us a flavor that the luck cannot last forever and that the result is likely to head for some long-term average. This is known as expected value, mean value or (long-term) average outcome or average return. The principle of expected value also applies in both entrepreneurship and investment.

The mean value of the outcomes of our simple game is the following. In each round (flip of a coin) there is a 0.5 probability of winning 50 cents and a 0.5 probability of losing $1 (or 100 cents): 0.5 × 50 + 0.5 × (-100) = 25 - 50 = -25 cents. What does it mean? In the long term you are likely to lose (I am likely to win) 25 cents out of each dollar wager in the game.

In the short run (i.e. few rounds played) you can beat me and win some money from me, but in the long run the mathematical house will work hard against you. Neither statistics (of heads and tails appearances) nor strategies will help you. After all this is a corner stone of the whole gambling industry. Casinos and betting companies have a positive expected value (a player's minus is a casino's plus and vice versa).

Smart Betting

You might be a bit disappointed now that you have not found what you have been looking for (whether and how to win in a lottery steadily) or maybe you have confirmed you opinion that there is no guaranteed way for winning. Despite that there are few true means of betting or recommendations that can be called smart and are in compliance with what has been written above.

Bet When a Jackpot Is High

If you bet after a jackpot has grown nicely, then the probability of winning remains the same, but you improve the mean expected outcome. It makes a difference whether the jackpot is $10 million or $100 million. The odds of winning the jackpot are the same, but the bigger jackpot increases the expected value as it weights what you can win by its probability.

Avoid Betting with the Crowd

If you play lottery games where prizes are shared evenly among the number of winners, then it is possible to take this fact into consideration in advance. Many people e.g. bet according to birthdates (of their own, children’s, parent’s, lover’s etc.) or they bet on lucky seven or any number considered lucky.

Some players, on the contrary, do not reckon their brains and bet on e.g. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. If you avoid these popular choices (moreover it does not matter at all which numbers you pick), you will not influence the probability, but you will not have to share the jackpot. However you may say that you are not greedy.

Buy Stocks of Casinos and Lottery Companies

There is another way how to earn on betting. This time from the opposite side by buying stocks of casinos or lottery companies. Thus you do not bet on your own, but let the others do that as it was proven above that casinos and betting companies have a stable long-term margin on betting (especially as regards the games where the house edge can be stipulated exactly).

Findings

The systems, strategies, software and other "guaranteed" guides can neither reverse nor decrease the mathematical house edge. Not even by picking concrete numbers at a specific time according to any key. That would mean to completely deny the theory of probability, which is merciless in terms of lottery games.

If someone tries to sell you a guide how to win in a lottery steadily, eternally, warranted or likewise, he only sells you a belief that you can manage. Even though you succeeded, it would still be just a pure coincidence, despite claiming something else by the seller ("nothing is accidental").

We have nothing against the resources that follow statistics and/or give a hint for particular numbers according to some key. Right the opposite as they do not lack interestingness, but it is necessary to take them as an entertainment or a spice-up of betting only. Some players would never use a random choice of numbers by a lottery operator instead of their own favorite numeric combination as they would lose their joy of betting. However it is not possible to be winning steadily in the long run, but no means in a guaranteed way.

Lottery Games – Rules, Odds of Winning and Expected Value

Published: 6 June 2013. Based on the original Czech article: Vyhrávejte ve Sportce a jiné loterii.

 
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