Does Quick Picking Your Lottery Numbers Work?

Are You More Likely to Win If You Choose Your Own Lottery Numbers?

Image of a Lottery Ticket
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When you buy a ticket for a lottery, like Powerball or Mega Millions, you have a choice to make. You need to decide whether to select your own numbers or use Quick Pick, which lets a computer randomly pick numbers for you.

But which choice is better? Are you more likely to win the lottery if you use one method or the other?

The Argument for Quick Picking Lottery Numbers

Using Quick Pick has an obvious advantage: It's quick. If you just want to get in the game and have the chance of winning a jackpot, Quick Pick is fast, convenient, and will have you on your way in a flash. You don't have to consider which numbers to play and you don't have to spend time filling in dozens of numbers on the form.

Another thing that Quick Pick has going for it is that lottery numbers are random and so are the numbers Quick Pick draws. By trying to outguess the computer by choosing your own numbers, you could actually be lowering your odds.

Why? People tend to react emotionally to numbers, "liking" some and "disliking" others. People tend to pick the numbers they like, while computers have no bias.

Furthermore, humans are likely to pick numbers that mean something to them, such as birth dates or anniversaries. That means that some numbers are selected more often than others (especially numbers that fall in the range of 1 - 31, since they correspond to dates). If you win with a commonly-used number, the chances are higher that you'll have to split your jackpot.

The Argument for Choosing Your Own Lottery Numbers

So Quick Pack has some advantages, but choosing your own numbers does as well.

Many people simply enjoy having control over the numbers that they buy. They may feel closer to a loved one by playing their birth date or they may find that playing a lucky hunch or the numbers in a fortune cookie is more fun.

Self-pickers also have the ability to avoid the most commonly-played numbers. If all numbers have the exact same chance of being drawn, then you can at least narrow the odds of having to share your jackpot if you win by picking the most rarely-selected numbers, something that Quick Pick won't do for you. Quick Pick won't prioritize lottery numbers that give you higher chances of winning the whole pot.

Another thing that Quick Pick can't do is to ensure you choose unique numbers across tickets. There's no guarantee that your Quick Picked lottery numbers won't repeat themselves. With very bad luck, a Quick Pick could even end up with two tickets with the exact same numbers on them — a waste of money that won't happen when you choose your own numbers. The Quick Pick is likely to generate the same random numbers for other lottery players, too.

Some people believe that they can use a system to crack the lottery. To try your luck with a lottery system like wheeling, analyzing the probability of numbers being drawn, or following recommendations from lottery software, you need to pick your own numbers.

Quick Picks Versus Self-Picks: Which Are Better?

If there were a clear way to get better chances of winning the lottery, everyone would do it. That the debate over Quick Pick versus self-pick exists at all indicates there's no clear winner.

If you are going strictly by the numbers, more Quick Pickers than self-pickers win lottery jackpots. About 70% of lottery winners used Quick Pick to choose their numbers. But then again, about the same percentage of all lottery players — about 70% - 80% — use Quick Pick. So it seems that about the same percentage of people win using each method.

It really boils down to what makes the most sense for you. If you have fun poring over numbers to find a pattern, then coming up with a system might be right for you. If it makes you smile to play your children's birthdays, then play them! Even splitting a jackpot is better than not winning at all.

If you just want to grab a few tickets while you are picking up milk at your local convenience store or you want to buy a batch of tickets for your office lottery pool, Quick Pick is a solid option.

Most important of all is to make sure that if you do play the lottery, you set a budget that you can afford and never go above it. The chance of winning a huge lottery jackpot isn't worth blowing your rent or grocery money on tickets.

Article Sources

  1. The Guardian, "Favourite Number Psychology". Accessed Oct. 22, 2019.

  2. New York Post, "Winning advice from ‘7 times lucky’ player", accessed Nov. 28, 2020.

  3. Powerball.net, "Powerball Quick Pick vs Own Numbers". Accessed Oct. 22, 2019.