I’m not a lottery player. But if I were, how would I play? What numbers would I pick?

**The only rational strategy of playing the lottery** is this:

– Find out what kind of machinery picks the numbers and when has it been put into place;

– Get statistical data of lottery numbers since the machine was put in place;

– See if you see any numbers that have occurred more often, which may imply that the machinery has a slight favoritism to those numbers.

The above task takes a long time. Even with all that data, even if you invest a lot of money, your chances of winning are very low. The differences between numbers on the long term are very low.

**Now I will present you an irrational strategy – how to pick your numbers irrationally?**

Assuming that the first strategy is a failure, and the numbers truly are random (which, for the hugely vast majority, I’m sure it is like this), what numbers would I pick? Well, think like this: if you were to share the (although enormous) prize with someone else, would you like it? Not that much, perhaps. So, the best strategy is to pick numbers which no one else picked.

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 – this is a nice set of numbers. OK perhaps it’s too easy. Make a slight change:

1, 2, 3, 4, 14, 15 – this is a rather strange set of numbers, very few people will say this will come out.

Here comes the irrational part: if you think that this sequence:

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6

is never going to be picked in the lottery, why do you play any sequence? The chance that the above combination gets picked is just the same as any other combination. **If you’re sure it won’t get picked, just don’t play the lottery. At all.** You just answered your question – the chances that any combination will get picked are so low, that your money are (for the vast majority of lottery participants) better invested elsewhere.

Now if you do play it, a good strategy is trying to find the combinations that others won’t pick. Very simple. Don’t share the prize.

PS, 2020.12.03: South Africa’s lottery probed as 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 and 10 drawn and 20 win – BBC News.