Ask Uncle Colin: Winning the Lottery

Dear Uncle Colin,

Can you help me win the lottery using MATHS!?

- Lots Of Time, Tremendous Optimism


I mean, there's a chapter in The Maths Behind1 on exactly that topic, but honestly? If I knew how to win the lottery, I'd be drinking mocktails on a Caribbean beach rather than writing snitty blogposts about it, wouldn't I?

Lotteries are not vehicles for making you money. Lotteries are vehicles for making lottery organisers money. Unless there's some set of circumstances (such as a series of rollovers) that makes the available prize pot larger than the money spent on tickets for that draw, there is - by design - no reliable way to make money by playing the lottery.

(Scratchcards, in some situations, are different. Unless they're designed carefully, there can be exploitable weaknesses. However, the answer is still no.)

I normally sign off "hope that helps", but I'm aware that this doesn't really - unless you count the advice "don't play the lottery" as helpful.

- Uncle Colin


Colin is a Weymouth maths tutor, author of several Maths For Dummies books and A-level maths guides. He started Flying Colours Maths in 2008. He lives with an espresso pot and nothing to prove.

  1. available wherever good books are sold []


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Where do you teach?

I teach in my home in Abbotsbury Road, Weymouth.

It's a 15-minute walk from Weymouth station, and it's on bus routes 3, 8 and X53. On-road parking is available nearby.

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