The lotto draw is completely random. But can maths up the chances of a win? (Photo: Colourbox)
The lotto draw is completely random. But can maths up the chances of a win? (Photo: Colourbox)

Can maths help me win the Lotto?

The lotto draw is completely random. But can mathematics up your chances of a win?

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What would you do if you won the lottery? Perhaps you would buy a new car or go on a luxury holiday. Or perhaps you would just be happy to be free of debt.

Most of us can only dream of becoming the lucky winner. But is there anything we can do to help it along?

Anders Stockmarr, a lecturer from the Institute for Mathematics and Computer Science at the Technical University of Denmark (DTU) has both good and bad news for those who are dreaming of a new heated swimming pool and their own helicopter.

Do not choose numbers based on your birthday

There may be something you can do to increase your lottery winnings, says Stockmarr.

"If you can find a combination of numbers that others don’t use, then you will receive a higher prize if you win. People often use their birthday [numbers], but these dates only go up to 31. If you expect that many people do this then you can choose to play with some other numbers yourself," he says.

But this will not affect your chances of winning.

“You should be aware that you don’t have any realistic chance of winning when you buy a lotto-ticket,” says Stockmarr, and he emphasises that the actual probability of winning is always the same no matter what numbers you choose.

You buy a dream when you play the lottery

It seems that the best chance of keeping hold of your money is not to play the lottery at all and avoid the temptation of buying a ticket when the lotto pool is extra-large.

"How much enjoyment do you really get by winning 20 million compared to 10 million? The first 10 you can probably use, but you'll probably not benefit as much from the next 10," says Stockmarr.

But Stockmarr admits that he has played the lottery in the past, despite the sage words of advice. Why would he throw his money away, when there is such a low likelihood of actually winning?

“That’s the kick you get. I’m completely aware that I won’t win anything and that I’ve bought into a dream. But it’s fun,” says Stockmarr.

 

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Read the Danish version of this story on Videnskab.dk
 

Translated by: Catherine Jex

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