I stop by a local convenience store on a fairly regular basis to get coffee, and one thing that always intrigues me is the number of people gathered together to buy lottery tickets, trying to figure out which are the best numbers to choose.
Picking lottery numbers should not be difficult, because if you really want the best chance of winning, you should pick the same numbers every time. It seems to me that if you pick the same numbers every time, you increase your chances of hitting the jackpot every day you don’t win.
I happened to brush into one lady who was filling out her lottery tickets, and she gave me the nastiest look. I asked her if she was picking lottery numbers, and she grunted and went right back to what she was doing. I then asked if her is she had a method for picking them out.
Grudgingly looking up, she said that she typically just went with whatever numbers felt right that day. I really did not know how to respond, because I don’t know how numbers just “feel right,” but she completed her five picks and went to the cash register to pay.
Right behind her in line was another guy who wanted a lottery ticket. He wasn’t actually picking lottery numbers himself; he was getting the “quick picks,” where a machine randomly picks six numbers and prints out a ticket.
He was buying $10 worth, and I sort of raised my eyebrows a little. “You can’t win if you don’t play,” he said, smiling. “That’s true,” I answered.
I asked him why he decided to do the quick picks, and he said he was always too nervous to pick the numbers and wanted to let the machine do it for him. I asked him if he ever thought about playing those same numbers over and over again to give himself a better chance of winning, but I don’t think he understood my concept.
Picking lottery numbers is so random, and yet a number of people I had talked to made it a personal issue. They chose birthdays, or family members’ ages, or lucky numbers. A few people understood my point about playing the same numbers, and some of them did so, but others just kind of shrugged and went about their business.
I have to admit that I rarely ever play the lottery, and picking lottery numbers is not a concern for me. I know that it is not an exact science, although some people believe that it is, and I know that my chances of winning are extremely remote. If I was going to buy lottery tickets on a regular basis, however, I would choose the same numbers every time I played.