I play a 6/45 Lotto game each week for a modest $20. Six numbers followed by two supplementary numbers are drawn. Prizes are given for picks of all 6 numbers, 5 plus a supplement, 5 numbers, 4 numbers and 3 plus a supplement. First prize ranges from $500,000 to $5 million down to $50 and $30 for the last two minor prizes.

Your chances of randomly first picking all 6 numbers in a 45 number Lotto game are 1 in 8,145,060, but if you put in 40 different entries then the odds of winning are better at 1 in 203,626. If you do this each week then you may expect to win top prize within 4000 years! Obviously we need to speed things up a bit! Is this possible?

We know that Lotto numbers are randomly drawn and mathematicians tell us that the numbers have no memory. This is true. Therefore, the conventional wisdom is that it is a waste of time using special systems, or favorite numbers, to improve your chance of winning. You might as well buy an Ezi-Pick choice of randomly chosen numbers and hope for the best. Many people do and some are richly rewarded, rarely.

However, this is only the top of the iceberg with regard to the probability of winning which involves selecting a combination of numbers. A large proportion of combinations can be ignored because of their low probability of being selected, whereas other combinations have a maximum probability of being selected.

For example, the combination 1,2,3,4,5,6 or 40, 41, 42, 43, 44, 45 have never ever been drawn in Lotto. The longest run of numbers I have seen are 3 consecutive numbers. In fact, if you limit yourself to having only pairs of numbers, now and then, this eliminates a lot of possibilities. Choosing 3 consecutive numbers may give you one hit, but limits your choice of other numbers.

This brings up the need of choosing a balance of both low and high numbers and of odd and even numbers, because in the long term all will even out since the draw is random. In fact, if you keep a record of Lotto results on your computer you will find that short term biases often develop but these usually last no more than 5 or 10 games at most. So play the biases to improve your results!

For example, in a 45 number Lotto there are 23 odd and 22 even numbers. The long term number of odd numbers chosen for 6 draw is about 3.1 odd. If you see your medium term (10 draws) creep to 3.3 and short term (5 draws) to 3.8 odd numbers, then you know you should favor picking even numbers, as it must come back to the random equilibrium point.

Similarly with the low/high balance of numbers. Your chart of Lotto results shows that in the long term half the numbers are 22 or below and half are 23 and above. This is what you expect for a random draw. But wow, what a lot of short term variations and biases do develop! Draw a red line at the 22/23 boundary to show how things are going.

On my present chart of results covering the past 30 games there are only 12 games balanced exactly with half low and half high numbers, with two extremes of 1 low, 5 high and 5 low and 1 high. Here is another opportunity to play the bias if things get out of whack, as well as having a balanced number choice as much as seems sensible, that is use some “systems” balanced and have some favoring even or odd numbers depending on the bias developed.

Similarly, we can delve into the distribution of hits in more detail across the 1 to 45 spectrum. On my large manually recorded chart of results covering 1 to 45, all hits (XX) and supplements (red line) are recorded to give an overview of what’s going on. I divided the field into 9 groups of 5, starting 1 to 5, 6 to 10 and so on up to 41 to 45. Wow! The random draw should in the long term result in all groups getting an equal fair share of hits.

In the short term (last 5 games), you make note of the frequency of hits. This may range from zero to 6 maybe. Such a bias can’t last for ever and usually things even out by 10 games. So when picking numbers include one or two from the depleted groups having lowest frequency of hits.

What else to look for? Considering the whole 8 numbers drawn (6 numbers plus 2 supplements) my present long term chart (30 draws) shows that repeats average 1.2, adjacent numbers 2.1, and pairs 1.2 per draw. So the sensible choice is to include a repeat number and as many adjacent numbers as is feasible.

It is also important to keep track of the “games out” for each number drawn and so “type” the draw. My grouping is as follows: 0 to 2 games out, 3 to 4, 5 to 9 and 10 plus games out. Thus if a draw results in 3 numbers in the 0 to 2 group, 0 in 3 to 4, 2 in 5 to 9 and 1 at 10 plus then the draw is typed as [3021]. My long term average is type [2.0, 1.0, 1.5, 1.5]. Once again, if biases develop then play the bias.

How to put it all together? The best way is to use the ‘wheeling numbers” system as developed and explained by Gail Howard in her books “Lottery Master Guide” and “Lotto – How to Wheel a Fortune”. I have tried quite a few of her systems and now favor a simple one called 401, probably because it has given me a second prize. Here you choose 8 numbers which when “wheeled” gives you 4 lots of 6 numbers which you enter on your card. You can do this any number of times depending on the size of your entry, but I keep it to 3, or sometimes up to 10 times. It is easy to set up these wheeling systems on your computer using any database software.

In conclusion, playing Lotto responsibly, say by spending $20 each week, provides an interesting hobby which may pay you dividends. Where does the money go to? In South Australia where I live they tell you: 60% on prizes, 24% to hospitals, 7% to agents, 5% to operations and 4% GST (tax). You are doing the community a great service!