You may come across many people claiming to have found the secret to predicting winning lottery numbers. The problem is that the drawn numbers are random, and each draw is independent of the one before it. Instead of trying to predict the next lottery numbers, concentrate on improving your chances of winning.
If you want to try lottery strategies that work, you should consider playing the odds, playing through a syndicate, taking advantage of second chance draws, or playing scratch cards with a plan (not randomly on impulse). And if you want to use the most effective strategy, try combining these methods.
Using these strategies will help improve your odds of winning. If you’re realistic, in a game of random numbers, improving your odds is all you can expect.
That’s because there’s no secret formula for winning the lottery. If you want that, then it’s no secret, you just need to go and buy all the possible combinations that could be drawn. If that’s beyond your means or you can see the potential pitfalls of doing it and want some real strategies that will help, keep reading.
1. Play the Odds
Playing the odds is nothing more complicated than ensuring that the games you play give you better odds of winning.
Check the Odds
If you’re looking for the big jackpots, you’re playing against some astronomical odds.
They’re both 5 +1 games where you pick five numbers from one set and 1 number from a second set, so why the difference?
The odds difference arises due to the size of the two sets of numbers from which you make your selections.
So, for Mega Millions, your first five numbers are selected from the range 1 to 70. In Powerball, the range for the first five numbers is 1 to 69.
The sixth number for Mega Millions is from 1 to 25, while in Powerball, it’s selected from 1 to 26.
So, the chances of winning the jackpot in Mega Millions are lower than in Powerball.
You have to understand that we’re talking relatively, as the odds of winning either are incredibly low.
Let’s compare the odds of hitting the jackpot in these two games:
|5 +1||Jackpot||1 in 302,575,350||Jackpot||1 in 292,201,338|
When you see the figures, you wonder why anyone bothers. Although you have better odds of landing the jackpot in Powerball, they’re still heavily stacked against you.
The odds of a royal flush are better than even hitting the next two prize levels in these two games:
|5||$1 million||1 in 12,607,306||$1 million||1 in 11,688,054|
|4 + 1||$10,000||1 in 931,001||$50,000||1 in 913,129|
Improve the Odds With More Entries
Your best bet to increase your prospects of winning the jackpot, or even the next two prize levels, is to buy more tickets.
But, you’d need a big bankroll to buy enough tickets to improve the odds in any significant way.
There’d be little point in doing this for the lower prize tiers because the cost would be more than the prize amount.
The only way to guarantee to land the jackpot would be to buy all possible combinations from the two pools of numbers.
Now, you may think that’s worth considering if the jackpot were large enough. However, the risk then is that you’re likely to end up sharing the winnings.
That’s because, by the time the jackpot is big enough, jackpot fever will have consumed the nation. So many people will have bought tickets that most of the combinations will be covered.
Sharing the jackpot would make the strategy less profitable and probably put you at a loss after tax.
So, in practical terms, buying enough tickets to cover all outcomes isn’t feasible, even if possible.
However, buying more tickets does improve your chances of winning as a general principle. By how much depends on the number of tickets you buy per draw. But shelling out for a bunch of tickets for every draw soon adds up.
A more strategic approach than playing every draw might be to play only when the jackpot has rolled over a few times. So, what you save by not playing every drawing can be put into more entries for a single mega draw.
Buy what you can afford, and remember, if you have multiple entries, you have more chances to win at all levels. So, even if you don’t hit the jackpot, you may hit another prize level.
Play Lotteries With Better Odds
If it’s the jackpots you want, you need to look beyond these two headline-grabbing games for a better chance of winning.
For example, you could look to play your state lottery. Yes, the jackpots are smaller, but the odds of winning are better.
Now, the games have different formats, but, as it’s the odds we’re interested in, let’s go with it.
Here’s the comparison:
|``` California Super Lotto Plus ```|
You can see that the chances of winning the jackpot are still low. But they’re considerably better than walking away with the top prizes on Mega Millions or Powerball.
In fact, the odds are better than those shown above for the New York Lotto. That’s because you get two lines for your $1 ticket price. So, your chances of winning become 2 in 45,057,474, which is better than California’s state lottery.
On that basis, if you’re after the jackpot, the New York Lotto looks like the best bet because you get two chances for your $1. Bear in mind, however, that each line still only has a 1 in 45,057,474 chance of winning. It’s just that your entry covers two, instead of one of the possible combinations.
Still, the California lottery gives you better odds of a jackpot win than either Mega Millions or Powerball.
So, that’s the principle. In other words, winning is about selecting the games with the best odds. No, it doesn’t guarantee a jackpot win, but nothing can. It only improves your chances.
Check Out the Smaller Games
You can take this a step further. You’ll usually find a selection of games on your lottery’s website, with varying odds and jackpots.
With those games, you may be playing for smaller amounts, but with better odds of landing the first prize.
Some of those first prizes can be decent amounts. For example, the New York Lottery’s Pick 10 gives you a $500,000 jackpot with a 1 in 8,911,711 chance of winning.
So, don’t ignore those smaller games if you want better chances of winning.
2. Play Through a Lottery Syndicate
It’s the old adage; there’s strength in numbers. When talking about improving your chances of winning the lottery, that’s what it’s all about. But there’s a price to pay, as you’ll see. So, keep reading.
What’s a Lottery Syndicate?
As you’ve read above, buying more tickets is the best way to increase your chances of winning the lottery. The problem is that most of us don’t have the funds to do this in a meaningful way.
A lottery syndicate is a means by which you can achieve this without incurring much extra expense. The drawback is that you have to share any winnings. But, do you want a big fat zero share of nothing or a share of something, possibly something big?
Although there’s no guarantee that you will win anything in a syndicate, it does increase your chances of winning. And that includes a better chance of winning the jackpot.
How Does It Work?
Well, say there are ten people in the syndicate. Each pays $10 a week into the syndicate to buy tickets.
For Mega Millions and Powerball, that’s $100 in the ticket fund, which buys the group fifty entries.
That’s compared to the five entries that you would have been able to buy yourself for $10.
So, now, instead of five chances of winning, you have fifty.
How Does This Help?
Well, it’s all about covering the potential outcomes of a draw.
For example, Powerball has 292,201,338 possible combinations that could be drawn. If you buy one $2 ticket, there’s only one chance that you’ve chosen the winning numbers.
But, you could buy fifty $2 tickets for the draw in a syndicate with five members, assuming each member pays in $20. The $100 collected buys 50 tickets, so you’re covering fifty of those 292,201,338 possible draw numbers. So, you now have fifty chances of winning instead of one.
If you had bought those fifty tickets on your own, you’d have spent $100. Instead, you’ve only spent $20. As mentioned above, the trade-off is that winnings have to be shared, so the position would look like this:
|Match||Chances of Winning - One Ticket||Chances of Winning - Fifty Tickets||Prize ValueOne Ticket||Syndicate Prize Value Per Person(five members)|
|5 + 1||1 in 292,201,338||50 in 292,201,338||$100,000,000 (estimated)||$20,000,000|
|5||1 in 11,688,054||50 in 11,688,054||$1,000,000||$200,000|
|4 + 1||1 in 913,129||50 in 913,129||$50,000||$10,000|
You’d probably agree that fifty chances of winning are way better than one. And, you’re more likely to cough up $20 to get those chances than $100.
Of course, you can further improve your chances by purchasing more tickets or increasing the number of members.
However, increasing the number of members of the syndicate will affect the value of the prize that each receives. So, increasing the buy-in to enable five members to buy more tickets might be a better strategy.
Some syndicates buy hundreds of tickets for a draw to increase the number of possible outcomes they cover. Cost-wise, that’s more feasible in a syndicate than if you’re on your own.
So, the benefit of a syndicate is the lower outlay to increase your coverage of the possible outcomes. You improve your chances of winning but at a lower cost.
Yes, the winnings have to be shared, but that’s the quid pro quo of spending less in the first place. Through a syndicate, you get extra chances that you may not have been able to pay for on your own.
Of course, the other way to increase your chances of winning is by selecting a game with the best odds, as discussed above. Just make sure that the return on a win works out well also.
How Do I Find a Syndicate?
You may find that there’s one at your place of work already up and running.
If not, the best way is to set one up yourself. It could be made up of work colleagues, family, friends, or a mixture of all or any. It’s up to you.
All you need is someone to take responsibility for buying the tickets. You’d also be wise to have an agreement setting out, for example:
- the amount of the contribution
- frequency of contributions
- the game to be played
- the numbers to play, or how numbers are to be selected
- whether you play the same numbers for every draw
- whether you play every draw or only one draw a week, or even just the big jackpots
- confirmation of the division of winnings
It can get more complicated. For example, if some people contribute different amounts. In that case, you’d need to cover in the agreement how winnings are split. However, it’s best to keep it simple, at least until you have more experience with syndicates.
3. Take Advantage of Second Chance Draws
You may not have heard of these before. If you haven’t, and you’ve been playing draw games for a while, give yourself a kick.
Some lotteries offer players a second, free, chance to win something from their draw game ticket. If your ticket gives you this, it’ll have a second chance code printed on it.
Not all lotteries offer these draws, so check your lottery’s website for details of eligible tickets and how to enter. California’s lottery is one that does provide a second chance on its Super Lotto Plus and $5 or more Fantasy 5 games.
Don’t leave your old draw tickets lying around because you usually have to enter any second chance draw within a certain date of the original drawing.
You just submit the code from your ticket, and it’ll be entered into any draw for which it’s eligible.
Since the number of entrants isn’t known until the draw closes, the odds of winning aren’t known until then. However, as it’s free, it doesn’t matter, you’re getting a chance to win something for nothing. Probably, the odds will end up being better than the odds in the original draw.
4. Play Scratchcards
With so much focus on the headline-making jackpots of the big draw games like Mega Millions and Powerball, it’s easy to forget the other games that lotteries offer.
Aside from draw games, most lotteries also have a range of scratchcard games. They’re also called instant win games, scratchers, or scratch-offs.
You can buy them at your local convenience store for anything from $1 to about $30, depending on the game.
There’s an enormous array of game choices, some with multiple ways to win. Top prizes could be anything from around $1,000 or a $10 million annuity, with lots of prizes levels in between.
As they don’t depend on a scheduled drawing, they’re convenient. You don’t have to wait for a drawing to find out if you’ve won.
What’s the Deal?
Well, each game will have a fixed number of tickets printed. Within that print run, a set number will be winning tickets.
So, the number of winning tickets and the prize structure are all in place at the outset. That’s what determines the odds for each game.
Most states are required to provide information about each game, such as the number of unclaimed prizes.
A strategy for playing scratchcards uses the information available to pick which games you play in.
Is It That Simple?
Sort of. Remember, we’re talking about strategies to improve your chances of winning. There can be no guarantees, but at least you’ll shift the balance a little more in your favor.
So, here’s how you can do that with scratchcards. There’s a bit of work involved, but if you want to maximize your chances, what else would you expect?
Check the Game Odds
It’s a theme we keep mentioning, but when you’re playing games of chance, checking the odds is the most obvious thing to do.
It’s easy enough to do on the lottery’s website.
Obviously, you want to select a game with the best odds within your budget. You don’t want to be going overboard and spending more than you can afford to lose.
Be sure to look at both the odds for each prize level and the overall odds of winning something. That way, even if you don’t win the top prize, you’ll likely take something out of the game along the way.
In general, you’ll find that the less you pay, the lower the odds of winning and the smaller the prizes.
Make sure you check the game number. What you’ll find is that game names may be re-used by the lottery. So, to distinguish two or more games with the same name, each game has an identifying number.
For example, a “Set for Life” game may be available in a $2, $10, or a $20 version. The top prize might be annuities between $1.2 million and $10 million. Those should be easy enough to tell apart, but it’s just as well to check the game number to ensure they tally.
It’s more of an issue when you see three games with the same name, ticket price, and top prizes. In that case, the only way to tell them apart is by the game number.
Why is it so important? Well, keep reading to find out.
Check the Game Report for the Number of Prizes Unclaimed
Your lottery’s website will have a report on the status of its live games. It’s a crucial part of playing scratchcards strategically that you check the reports for any games you’re looking to play before you play them.
What’s the report going to tell you? Well, at the very least, it’ll let you know how many top prizes have yet to be claimed.
If you know this, you can target games where there are still a good number of top prizes left to play for. The more top prizes left unclaimed, the better your odds of hitting them.
This is where the game number is crucial. Because, if you have three games with the same name, ticket prize, odds, and top prizes, it’s the only way you’ll be able to tell them apart.
Although each of those games may have the same number of top prizes, how many remain unclaimed can vary widely. If you play the wrong game number, you might only be playing for one remaining top prize. If you’d played the correct game number, there might be ten top prizes remaining.
Of course, if there’s only one top prize left, that doesn’t mean you won’t hit it. Lady luck might be smiling on you. But the point of a strategy is to try to reduce your reliance on just luck by improving the odds.
Check the Game Report for Other Information
Some lotteries provide a host of other data that can help you select the best games to play.
For example, Maine’s lottery has a section listing the number of top prizes not yet claimed. But, it also gives the approximate percentage of unsold tickets.
The information it provides for each game includes how many tickets were issued and the odds of winning the first prize.
So, for example, say one million tickets were issued, and the chance of taking the top prizes was 1 in 80,000, and 20% are unsold. That means there are 200,000 tickets still out there.
If the game report tells you that there are ten top prizes unclaimed, you now have one chance in 20,000 to hit a top prize. Sounds a lot better than 1 in 80,000, doesn’t it?
For sure, it doesn’t guarantee you one of the unclaimed jackpots. Still, you’re playing wisely and conserving your money for the better odds situations.
The upshot of all this is to avoid doing what most people do with scratchcard games. That is, they buy on impulse when they’re at the checkout at their local store. Often they buy for no reason other than that they like the colors on the ticket.
Don’t do it, Get your research done before you buy, and if the odds aren’t favorable, let it go. There’ll be other opportunities to come.
So, now you’ve identified your target, here’s what you do next.
Buy Tickets in Bulk
If you buy just one ticket from a book, you might strike it lucky and come up with a winner. However, if you buy ten or twenty consecutive tickets for the same game, you improve your chances of finding a winning ticket amongst them. If you buy a whole book at one time, your chances improve again.
As with all gambling, there’s no guarantee, but again, it comes back to being better than relying on luck alone.
Compared to buying one ticket from a book, buying the whole book is probably more fruitful. That’s because, if there’s a winner in that book, you’ll hit it, but not necessarily if you only buy one ticket from the book.
Now, a book of $2 scratchcards might cost $300. If you don’t want that sort of outlay, do it through a syndicate. Mix and match your strategic tools.
Get Your Tickets Checked
It happens, but sometimes you can just miss the fact that you’ve won. It’s easily done, especially when some scratchcard games can be rather complicated with multiple ways to win.
Remove the risk of not claiming on a winning scratchcard by having the cashier at your local retailer scan the ticket.
If it’s confirmed as a losing ticket, ask for it back. You’ll see why in the next section.
Check for Any Second Chance Offer on Losing Scratchcards
A second chance offer for losing scratchcards is similar to the second chance option for draw games. This is something you shouldn’t overlook.
It is what it sounds like. If your scratchcard didn’t win, you could enter it into a second chance draw. The best thing is, it’s free.
You just enter your second chance code for the ticket on the lottery’s website. California’s lottery also has a mobile app that can scan the code.
The code works like a draw entry. If your code is drawn from all the second-chance entries submitted, you stand to win something.
This can be a reasonable sum of money. Check your lottery’s website for details of the scratchcards that qualify. It should also tell you what prizes are up for grabs.
Your odds of winning a prize depend on the number of entrants in the draw. But it might be unlikely that all losing tickets get entered. A good proportion might just have been thrown away.
Since entry to the second-chance draw is free, it’s well worth making it a standard part of your strategy.
5. Use the Previous Four Strategies in Combination
You’ve seen hints at this throughout this article. These strategies aren’t mutually exclusive.
Whether you play on your own or through a syndicate or play draw games or Scratchcards. You can put them together to help improve your chances of winning.
So, now you have four realistic strategies that you can implement to help improve your chances of winning the lottery.
Remember, there are no foolproof ways to guarantee a jackpot or even any win. Not unless you buy 100% of all the possible draw combinations. The odds always favor the lottery.
The best you can do is shift the balance of the odds slightly more in your favor. Now you’ve read this article, you’re well equipped to do that.