LETTER: There's no magic in the lottery

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The Independent Online
From Mr Hugh Shanahan

Sir: Clifford German's assumption (Section Two; "Lottery slaves and hot numbers", 31 January) that numbers that have not turned up very often in previous draws will have a greater chance of appearing in the next draw is wrong.

An individual draw cannot be affected by previous (or indeed future) draws. One can say something about the frequency of numbers from a very large number of draws (and, indeed, I suspect that that number would have to be much bigger than what we have right now), but just because 39 has only appeared twice does not mean that it will magically be persuaded to go down that pipe next Saturday. Furthermore, describing the sequence 1,2,3,4,5,6 as "unlikely" is a half-truth, because every other possible combination is equally unlikely.

Yours sincerely,

Hugh Shanahan


3 February