The lottery is a game where participants pay $1, select numbers and hope to win prizes by matching them with those that are randomly spit out during the drawing. People in America spent upwards of $100 billion on lottery tickets in 2021. It’s the most popular form of gambling in the US and one that can be very, very expensive.
But while there is an inextricable human impulse to play, it’s important to understand how lottery odds work and how probability theory can help you make better choices when buying tickets. That’s why we created this lottery calculator to teach people how to use probability and combinatorial mathematics to predict winning numbers.
Some numbers seem to come up more often than others, but that’s random chance and nothing more. In fact, the more a number is played, the more likely it is to be chosen, because more tickets are being sold.
But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible to improve your chances by picking a combination of numbers that are less common. For example, selecting a sequence of numbers that includes your children’s birthdays or ages increases your chance of winning, according to Harvard statistics professor Mark Glickman. However, you’d have to split the prize with anyone else who had the same numbers, so your overall chances of winning are still very low. Moreover, the tax implications can be huge, and many people who win go bankrupt within two years.