Those of you with long memories might remember that Carolyn and I have our own two-person lottery syndicate. I (very sensibly) choose random numbers each week; Carolyn (very foolishly) picks the same numbers each week. Carolyn's numbers are based on our birthdays, our mutual age, and the numbers of the houses we were brought up in, three doors along from each other. So far, my numbers have won us a total of £80 (or there about). Carolyn's have yet to win us a sausage.

After this evening's draw, Carolyn sent me the following text message:

It's your fault! If you'd been born two weeks earlier we'd have won £10. Typical!

How do you tell your oldest friend in the world that her gambling system is shite?

Richard Carter

A fat, bearded chap with a Charles Darwin fixation.


  1. I'm sure you realise that how you choose your numbers has no bearing no how likely you are to win £10 - they are fixed prizes and any six numbers are equally (un)likely to win the small prizes. The reason your numbers have won and Carolyn's havn't (mine never seem to either and I use your method) is solely statistical variation.

    Where you are likely to gain is when (I'm optimistic for you) you win the jackpot or one of the higher prizes, because your numbers are likely to be less common, so you will get a larger share of the big prize than Carolyn's methodwould provide.

    If Carolyn can live with a lower probability of all-out retirement in return for feeling lucky with her choice of numbers then you're mean to bully her for it!

    Off to check my random-lines, which I'd forgotten I bought until you just reminded me - I'll let you know how many others I'm sharing the jackpot with!

  2. PS the comments now appear twice, as does the feedback box, spam-code line, and all that jazz.

  3. Yoghurt, the more-likely-to-be-the-only-winner argument is main reason why I choose random numbers. The other reason is that, if you pick the same numbers every week, and one week you forget to buy a ticket, you will be a nervous wreck worrying that your numbers will come up that week. Random ticket means no undue stress.

  4. Hadn't thought of the stress issue, but then you do leave yourself open to having your last-week's numbers win and having C' say that if only you'd played the same numbers again you'd be swimming in scotch (litterally or metaphorically at your discretion). That said, I wouldn't know if my previous numbers had come up, so why should you.

    In case you were worried, my run of "luck" continues, and I successfully achieved 2 numbers out of 24 (2 lines with 1 number and 2 with none). At this rate, even I may be turning to my horoscope for help!

  5. I'll bet you 1/(1-(1/49+1/48+1/47+1/46+1/45+1/44)):1 it won't - or something like that.

  6. Well, I've bought my usual lucky dip and 47 did not feature - if I get 5 and the 6th ball is 47 then .... well, actually, I've no idea what I would do then, but I guess you could legitimately say "toldyou so".

    I think I'll risk it.

  7. You should have another word with Mum - 47 was nowhere in sight (not that it made any difference to me - I won nothing as usual).

  8. Somewhat disappointed that you play the lottery; I've been readingpretty much every one of your2008 posts and you seem like such a rational person!

  9. Nothing irrational about playing the lottery, as long as you don't expect to win. You are paying for the thrill of the risk in exactly the way you would at a theme park, only without the danger that the kid behind you will throw up his canyfloss into your hair.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *