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Luck and Odds

June 13th, 2014 · 3 Comments

This seems like an appropriate topic for today, Friday the thirteenth, with a full moon in the sky.

I was in Las Vegas a few years ago with some friends and passed a little idle time playing Keno. Keno is a game like the lottery, where you choose some numbers and hope they match the random numbers chosen by the system.

For one of my bets, I chose the numbers 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6. My companions thought I was wasting my money, since you never see a sequence like that. Better to emulate the appearance of the actual results by spreading the numbers out in a random-like manner.

But my point then and now is that this set of numbers is exactly as likely as any other set of 6 numbers. It’s true you never see a straight sequence like this, but you could choose any set of 6 numbers and say the same thing. Random is random, no numbers are preferred over any others.

To me it helps emphasize how unlikely it is to win at a game like this. If my set of sequential numbers ever came up, people would be astonished, or suspicious, and ask, “What are the odds?” The answer is that the odds are exactly the same as any other set of 6 numbers. If you’re playing a lottery with 49 balls, the odds of selecting any specific set of 6 balls is about 1 in 14 million.

Tags: Computers, Tech & Science · Opinion

3 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Donna // Jun 13, 2014 at 5:09 pm

    By not buying lottery tickets, I am nearly as likely to win as those who waste their money on tickets. In fact, I’m much more likely to be ahead after the drawing. But still, I wish I could win the lottery. I dream of someone giving me a winning ticket.

  • 2 Don // Jun 13, 2014 at 5:49 pm

    Tonight it’s a Honey Moon. Whatever that means.

  • 3 Mom // Jun 14, 2014 at 8:23 am

    Sometimes, I think that if someone would just drop off a million dollars in my bank account, I would never ask for another thing. And then I realize–Oh, yes, I would still want my health, my family and all their needs met, a comfortable place to stay, good food, etc. etc. and someone (like Daryl) to take care of my computer, my TV, and the list goes on.

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