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Does playing the same lottery numbers increase your chances?

Many lottery players have favorite numbers that they play week after week, hoping that sticking with the same combinations will eventually pay off with a big win. But does consistently playing identical numbers actually improve your odds of winning the lottery, or are you just as likely to win by playing random number combinations?

The basics of lottery odds

First, it’s important to understand how lottery odds work in the first place. Lotteries are examples of random number games based entirely on chance and probability. When you buy a lottery ticket, you are essentially buying a random number combination. The lottery drawing itself is also a random number generation that selects winning numbers purely by chance.

Your odds of winning the lottery jackpot are calculated by the odds of matching all the numbers drawn in a particular order. For example, the odds of winning the Powerball jackpot are 1 in 292,201,338 because you need to match 5 numbers from 1-69 plus the Powerball from 1-26. The odds are astronomical because the number of potential combinations is so huge compared to the handful of winning tickets.

Lottery balls don’t have any memory, so the probability of certain numbers being drawn is always the same in each drawing. That means that every combination of numbers has an equal chance of winning.

Playing the same numbers doesn’t change the probabilities

So does using the same numbers change your probability of winning? The short answer is no. Your chance of winning stays exactly the same each drawing regardless of the numbers you play. The lottery balls and random number generator have no way of knowing whether a number combination has been played before.

Think of it this way – if the winning Powerball numbers for a certain drawing are 5-23-31-47-56 with a Powerball of 9, those numbers are just as likely to be drawn whether it’s the first time they ever came up or the 10th time in a row they were drawn. The fact that they had been drawn before does not change the probability of them being drawn again.

The odds of those exact numbers coming up remain 1 in 292,201,338 in every single Powerball drawing, even if they had been drawn in the 10 previous drawings. Luck doesn’t accumulate by playing the same number combinations over and over. The lottery drawing is a discrete random event each time.

Here’s an example scenario

Let’s demonstrate this with an example. Say you like to play the numbers 1-2-3-4-5-6 in the lottery every week because they have some personal significance to you. The drawing occurs and the winning numbers are 3-12-15-36-48-54. You did not match any numbers.

So for the next drawing, you play your favorite numbers 1-2-3-4-5-6 again. This does not improve your chances of matching any of those numbers. The probability of each number being drawn is still the same as last time. So maybe this drawing’s winning numbers are 8-19-23-27-35-41. Once again, none of your numbers matched. So your probability of winning is no better for the third drawing when you play your favorite numbers again.

In fact, you could play those same numbers for 20 years and never hit a single one. That may sound unlikely, but it is entirely possible from a probability standpoint. The frequency that you play certain numbers has no influence on whether they get drawn.

Over time, every combination has the same probability

Some people think that if certain numbers haven’t been drawn recently, they are somehow “due” to come up. But that’s not how true randomness works. Over a very long period of time, say hundreds of drawings, every possible number combination has essentially the same probability of being drawn. Short-term wins and losses will fluctuate wildly, but over the very long-run, all the probabilities even out.

Think of it as a coin toss. If you flip a coin 10 times, you may get heads 7 times and tails just 3 times. But if you flip a coin 100 or 1,000 times, heads and tails are likely to occur very close to 50% each. Lottery numbers work the same way over the long haul. Over many drawings, all the numbers have the same probability of being chosen eventually.

Near misses do not affect future probabilities

Some lottery players also mistakenly believe that if they almost matched the winning numbers, they are more likely to win next time. For example, say the winning numbers were 1-16-25-32-48-50. If you played 2-16-25-33-48-50, you might think you were “close” and are due for a hit next drawing.

But in reality, getting 4 or 5 numbers right provides no predictive value for the next drawing. The lottery balls have no memory or awareness of near misses. You are just as likely now to match only 1 number as you are to match all 6 numbers.

Your odds don’t improve after near misses. The probability of each number remains exactly the same regardless.

Why playing the same numbers won’t help

In summary, here are the key reasons why playing identical lottery numbers does not improve your chances of winning compared to playing different combinations of numbers:

  • Lottery drawings are random each time. Past numbers drawn have no effect on future drawings.
  • All number combinations have exactly equal odds of being drawn in each game.
  • Luck does not accumulate by playing the same numbers repeatedly.
  • Near misses do not affect the probability of winning next time.

Mathematically speaking, your probability of winning stays exactly the same with every lottery ticket you buy regardless of the numbers played. The only way to genuinely increase your chance of winning is to buy more lottery tickets.

Does playing the same numbers help in any way?

Alright, so we’ve established that playing the identical lottery numbers over and over does not actually increase your chances of winning mathematically.

However, are there any other potential advantages to consistently playing the same number combinations compared to always playing random numbers?

Here are a few small ways it could help:

  • Playing the same numbers can help you remember whether you entered certain drawings. If you play different numbers each time, it’s easy to lose track and accidentally buy duplicate tickets for the same drawing.
  • Sticking with the same numbers allows you to easily check whether you won by memory rather than having to dig back through old tickets.
  • Some people think playing significant numbers like birthdays, anniversaries, addresses, etc. is more fun than playing randomly generated numbers.
  • If you happen to win, playing memorable numbers gives you a story to tell that has a little more meaning.

So in a very limited sense, playing the same lottery numbers can provide a bit more convenience, personalization and record keeping. But when it comes to actually increasing your odds, it provides absolutely no mathematical advantage.

Strategies for picking numbers

If playing the same old numbers over and over doesn’t improve your chances, how should you choose lottery numbers? Here are some common approaches:

  • Quick Pick: Have the lottery machine generate random numbers for you. This gives every possible number combination an equal chance.
  • Meaningful numbers: Play combinations of important dates, addresses, ages etc. for personal significance.
  • Patterned numbers: Play number patterns like all odd numbers, all sequential numbers, Fibonacci numbers etc.
  • Frequency combinations: Look for numbers that get drawn most often historically and play some or all those.
  • Delta number system: Pick numbers that have not been drawn recently.

At the end of the day, no particular combination of numbers has been proven to win more than any other. Playing the lottery is pure luck, so having fun with it is likely the best strategy.

Can multiple people win with the same numbers?

One common lottery myth is that if someone else plays your same numbers, you have to split the prize with them. But this is never true unless you explicitly purchased tickets together in some type of lottery pool or syndicate.

If you and another lottery player coincidentally pick the same number combinations independently, and those numbers win the jackpot, you would not split the prize. Your tickets are completely separate transactions, so you each get the full stated prize amount.

The lottery organizers do not track who is playing what numbers in every drawing. There is no system in place to force jackpot winners with matching numbers to share prize money.

So rest assured that if you happen to match numbers someone else chose, you get 100% of the winnings according to the type of prize you won.

Should you play lottery numbers in patterns?

Another lottery myth is that playing numbered tickets in certain patterns (such as diagonal lines or shapes) affects your odds of winning. For example, playing several tickets in an X shape or other design across the number field.

The visual pattern created by the ticket numbers is completely irrelevant. Remember, the lottery drawing just pulls numbered balls randomly – the ball machine has no way of knowing what pattern your numbers are in physically on the bet slips.

You could play a straight vertical line of numbers, a perfectly diagonal pattern, or a completely scattered mess of digits – and it would not change the odds one bit. Your only advantage is from having bought more tickets, not the visual pattern you played.

So feel free to play creatively in whatever pattern amuses you, but don’t expect it to improve your mathematical probability of winning.

Should you follow the advice of lottery psychics?

You may have heard of people claiming to be lottery psychics who can predict winning numbers. Of course, if someone really could foresee the random numbers that will be drawn, they would likely just play those numbers themselves and win the jackpot instead of selling the winning combinations to others.

Any self-proclaimed lottery psychics, number experts or fortune tellers cannot actually determine winning numbers better than random chance. Never fall for scam artists who claim they can increase your odds with numerical trickery.

Your luck depends fully on the randomly generated numbers. Stick with legitimate lottery providers and honest probability principles rather than people who claim they can beat the odds and foresee the results.

Should you only play numbers 31 or below?

There is a superstition that you should only play lottery numbers ranging from 1 to 31 because numbers above 31 are somehow less likely to be chosen. This is completely false and not supported mathematically.

The balls or numbered ping pong balls used in lottery drawings are all weighed and calibrated precisely to be equally likely to be drawn. The actual numbers printed on the balls make no difference at all. 59 is just as probable to be picked as 3 or any other number.

So you can confidently play high numbers, low numbers or any other numerical combination across the entire available number field. Never feel like you need to limit your choices based on numerology superstitions.

Can stores or sellers increase your odds of winning?

Beware of scammers who claim that buying from certain stores or places will boost your odds of winning the lottery. For legitimate regulated lotteries, every ticket has an equal random chance of winning no matter where or how you purchased it.

A ticket bought from Joe’s Corner Mart has the exact same probability as one from a large supermarket chain or the lottery’s official website. Never pay more for tickets based on spurious claims that it will increase your luck.

The numbers are always drawn randomly, so focus on having fun rather than trying to twist the odds with pseudo-magical tricks. Where you buy makes no mathematically provable difference.


Playing the lottery with the same numbers may bring a sense of tradition or personal meaning. But it does not actually change the probability or improve your chances of matching the randomly drawn winning numbers.

If you enjoy playing the same special numbers because it makes the experience more fun, there is no harm in that. Just don’t expect it to increase your mathematical odds, which remain fixed no matter what you do.

Your best strategy is to manage your expectations, only spend what you can afford on lottery tickets and have fun anticipating the exciting possibility of a big random win!