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Best of Mark Pilarski
Are birthday numbers really luckier?13 October 2000
Also, you used the odds of hitting a
California 6/51 ticket as an example. Our state lottery has 54 numbers.
What are the chances of hitting it? Dale G.
More than 65% of the tickets played in state lotteries have numbers all marked under 31. By eliminating numbers above 31, two problems emerge.
First, there is a much greater chance of sharing the bootie because such a high percentage of people, like yourself, play this way. It is odd, Dale, to have only one winner when all the numbers picked are under 31.
Second, track your state lottery draws and note how often just the numbers 1-31 occur. Fortunately for you, I did the homework by researching every draw of every game ever played in California. Even to my surprise, a ticket limiting the numbers between 1-31 appears, on average, only 3.5 times a year (104 games per year-Wednesday and Saturday draws).
So for the above two reasons, Dale, I subjectively recommend random numbers, in addition to waiting for the lottery to get close to true odds.
For your second question, I list the staggering chance of hitting the Illinois lottery (6 out of 54) below, plus additional state lottery games, indexed in ascending order of difficulty.
6 out of 25 1 chance in 177,100
Powerball (5 out of 45 + 1 out of 45) 1 chance in 55 million.
"Most people use statistics the way a drunk uses a lamp post. More for support than illumination." Mark Twain
Not anymore, Cliff. Though you'll see
odds posted by Las Vegas bookmakers in nationwide newspapers, they're
more for amusement, not actual wagering. The Nevada Gaming Commission
halted those intriguing side wagers years ago after bets like "Who Shot
JR" were made by insiders knowing the eventual outcome. That's too bad.
Just think of the possibilities a sportsbook operator could offer. Like
if Geraldo Rivera mentions on his talk show that he's a former lawyer,
bet six to win five. Or that he finished 13th out of 364 in his law
school class; here you might get 20 to 1. Then there's Rivera's
evening talk show counterpart, Larry King. That he's from Brooklyn and
people from Brooklyn are special — even money. Or that he and his guest
"go way back." Lay 10 to win five.
Best of Mark Pilarski