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How to Win the Lottery: 7 Tips that Really Work!

No Schemes! Just Common-Sense Lottery-Winning Tips

If you look for information about how to win the lottery, you’ll find many tips that don’t work. Lottery schemes like picking “rare” numbers (every number has an equal chance of winning, no matter how recently it was drawn), software that’s supposed to be better at picking numbers, and other forms of wishful thinking abound.

There’s no way to predict the numbers that will come up in the lottery. The drawings are completely random, so the best you can do is try to pick unusual numbers so you won’t have to split the jackpot if there’s a tie.

But that doesn’t mean that there’s no way of increasing your odds of becoming a lottery winner. Here are some fact-based tips that really work, and will help you win the lottery.

Improve Your Chances of Winning the Lottery by Playing the Right Games

People talk about entering the lottery as if it were just one game, but every state has a selection of lottery games—and they each have different odds of winning.

Read the odds before you spend your money to ensure you’re maximizing your chances of winning. By picking games with better odds, you boost your chances of being a lottery winner.

Remember that lottery games like Powerball and MegaMillions are national lotteries. They have fixed odds of winning, but if many people enter, you could end up splitting a jackpot. That would lower the value of your prize.

Don’t write off scratch-off games, either. They usually offer smaller prizes but higher chances of winning overall.

Join a Lottery Pool to Get More Entries Without Spending More Money

The easiest way to boost your odds of winning lotteries is simply to buy more tickets. But of course, that costs money, and even if you invest a lot of money buying tickets, your odds of winning are still poor.

But what if you could buy tickets at a fraction of the price? Lottery pools give you that chance.

Lottery pools give you the opportunity to improve your odds without spending more money. Consider joining your office lottery pool or starting one of your own to get better chances of winning without breaking your budget.

Don’t Miss a Lottery Win!

Imagine winning a big jackpot—but missing out on your money because you forgot to double-check your numbers. It happens more often than you think.

For example, one MegaMillions lottery ticket worth nearly $300,000 was never claimed. Somewhere out there, there’s someone with no idea that they won, and lost, a huge prize. Don’t let that happen to you.

When you buy a lottery ticket, keep it somewhere where you can find it again easily. Jot down the drawing date and time in your calendar if you’re afraid you might forget it.

Check the numbers against your ticket, and double-check them, just to be sure. Also, make sure that you are looking at the numbers for the correct date.

Some people like to have convenience store clerks verify their tickets to be sure they don’t make a mistake while checking their numbers. Another option is to use a lottery app to help you keep track of the drawings.

Multiply Your Chances of Winning the Lottery with Second-Chance Games

OK, so your numbers didn’t come up in the drawing. That means it’s time to toss your lottery ticket, right?

Many lotteries offer second-chance drawings on non-winning tickets. Fill out the form on the back, send it in, and you’ll have a bonus chance to be a winner.

On June 8, 2010, a TheBalance Everyday reader reported a big lottery win. She didn’t win because of the numbers she played when she bought the ticket, but because she entered the second-chance game in the Kentucky Lottery.

Her name was randomly drawn as the second-chance winner, and she took home $120,610.70 after taxes.

So don’t give up just because you didn’t win the first time. If your lottery game includes a second-chance drawing, entering could be your ticket to winning.

Someone Else’s Loss Might Be Your Lottery Ticket Win

A lot of people throw out their lottery tickets after a drawing, but that doesn’t mean that the tickets are worthless. Perhaps they didn’t bother to check the numbers, or they checked the wrong drawing or misread the winning numbers.

If you find a discarded lottery ticket, it’s worth taking the time to double-check.

Even if the discarded ticket is a loser, there’s a chance you could still win with it. If there’s a second-chance drawing associated with the lottery game, you can use found tickets to enter, giving you more chances to win.

Take Steps to Secure Winning Lottery Tickets

If you are lucky enough to win the lottery, the last thing you want to do is let the prize slip through your fingers.

To protect yourself, the first thing you should do after you receive a lottery ticket, even before you know whether it’s a winner or not, is to sign it. Your signature on the back of a lottery ticket can help prove it’s yours if it gets lost or stolen.

Also, never hand a ticket to a clerk at a lottery location and ask if you’ve won. Use a computer terminal to determine if you’re a winner, ask the clerk for the winning numbers and verify them yourself, or check online or in newspapers to find the winning numbers. It’s easy for an unscrupulous clerk to pocket your ticket and tell you it was a loser.

If you intend to cash a lottery ticket by mail, make sure you make copies of both sides of the ticket, in case it gets lost in transit.

Win a Bigger Payout by Choosing Rarer Numbers

While it’s impossible to predict which numbers will be chosen in any given lottery drawing, picking certain numbers might have a slight advantage, not for your chances of winning, but for your payout.

If you win a lottery jackpot, there’s a chance you might have to split the payout with other people who picked the same numbers. So all things being equal (in that all numbers are equally likely to be picked), you might as well try to select rarer numbers to improve your odds of keeping more of the pot for yourself.

So how do you know which numbers are rare? Some people try to use statistics to find out which numbers are chosen least often. Others look at combinations that other people tend to avoid, like consecutive numbers. Using a lottery app might help you select and remember numbers to play.

Beware of Lottery Scams

Unfortunately, many scammers try to take advantage of people’s dreams of winning the lottery. Here are a few tips to protect yourself and avoid lottery scams:

  • Only buy tickets from authorized lottery retailers.
  • It’s not legal to sell lottery tickets across national borders. You can usually buy tickets if you are located in the country, but offers to sell international lottery tickets by mail or online are usually illegal.
  • If you didn’t buy a lottery ticket or participate in a second-chance lottery game, you didn’t win.
  • The lottery doesn’t notify you when you win; you are responsible for checking your winning tickets.
  • You’re never required to pay money up-front to receive a winning lottery prize.

Learn how to win the lottery with 7 effective lottery-winning tips that cost you nothing and improve your odds of scoring a prize.

When Is The Best Time To Buy Lottery Tickets?

According to rational (or statistical) analysis

Lianne & Justin @ Just into Data
Dec 19, 2019 · 7 min read

Is there ever a time the expected return would be positive from a lottery ticket?

More people tend to buy lottery tickets when there is a larger jackpot. Does this make sense?

This article aims to answer these questions based on statistical analysis.

Introduction

The lottery we are studying here is one of the most popular lottery games in Canada — Lotto 6/49. Like many other lottery games, Lotto 6/49 also rolls over the jackpot when there are no winning tickets in a draw. Over the past year, there have been a few large jackpots of over $20 million.

The largest single jackpot ever in Canadian lottery history is from Lotto 6/49 as well. It was drawn on October 17, 2015 for a jackpot of $64 million. And the jackpot was won by one single ticket purchased in Ontario. This is less than 10% of the American largest jackpot in history — $768.4 million jackpot in the Powerball. But it corresponds to the Canadian population vs U.S. population ratio.

There are 7 different prizes for the main draw according to number matches. There is also a $1 million guaranteed prize draw which goes to one of the tickets in play. The odds of winning any prize (most likely, another free play) is quite good at one in 6.6.

However, no one is targeting small prizes when buying lottery tickets. The main jackpot is what we are mainly interested in.

The odds of winning the Lotto 6/49 main jackpot is 1 in 13,983,816! That means, we have a higher chance of:

  • being struck by lightning — 1 in 114,195.
  • becoming a movie star — 1 in 1,190,000.
  • getting attacked by a shark — 1 in 3,748,067.

Things to consider before the analysis

  • Taxes and time value of money

Luckily, the lottery winner in Canada does not have to pay taxes on the winnings — only on the income it generates. The winners seem to have the option of getting paid in one lump sum after claiming. Therefore, there is no need to consider the time value of the winning amount and the taxes, which might reduce the actual prize.

Unlike in Powerball, the Lotto 6/49 jackpot amount is simply the amount the winner gets!

Due to data limitations, only one year of Lotto 6/49 history was available for analysis¹. Other data is read from news reports.

Lastly, we also assume the number of jackpot winners follows a Poisson distribution. A Poisson distribution is a probability distribution often used for modeling the number of rare events observed in some specific interval, such as time.

This is not a perfect model but it’s simple and can be used as a good proxy. Details about the application can be found here.

The math

When are the best times to buy a lottery ticket?

To answer this question, we use expected return as the standard measure.

******* You may skip this part if you’re not interested in the calculations*******

We mentioned the chance of winning the jackpot with one ticket is one in 13,983,816. Each ticket is considered independent from each other, so we’ll assume this to be constant.

The expected return of the main prize jackpot is calculated as:

(expected amount of winnings given that you win) * (1/13983816).

The expected amount of winnings given that you win is derived from the Poisson distribution assumption we made.

The expected return of prizes from the main draw other than the main jackpot was simply calculated as:

(the amount of winnings)* (odds of winning for that particular prize).

The expected return of the guaranteed $1 million prize is calculated as:

1 million * (1/total number of tickets sold).²

The purchase price per ticket is $3. Hence, the total expected return = sum (expected returns from different prizes) – $3.

Below is a chart with the data of expected total return and the jackpot size over the past year.

The relationship looks linear. The expected return of a jackpot of $33 million (the largest jackpot in the past year) was as high as -$0.14.

The higher the jackpot, the better the expected return?

Does that mean it will reach 0 or even positive with a higher jackpot, which will make the lottery a good bet?

To answer this question, let’s look at a bigger jackpot that happened back in 2005. The jackpot was $54.3 million, which is a lot bigger than $33 million and closer to the highest record of $64 million. This particular draw was picked due to data availability from a news report.

Back then the tickets were $2 each so it was considered a huge jackpot equivalent to an $81.45 million jackpot today. Even so, the expected return³ was -$0.14, which is the same as the highest expected value of the past year.

Because there were almost 50 million tickets sold for this jackpot. This is more than ten times compared to the average draw (4.9 million) in the past year. People are definitely excited and buy more tickets for these larger jackpots! And that is the main factor that pulls down the expected return.

Yes, the expected return of a lottery ticket does increase as the jackpot gets higher.

When the jackpot gets large, it is a better time to buy the lottery.

But it will never become a rational investment (with positive expected return) due to the lotto mania created by these large jackpots!

Moreover, the more tickets sold, the more likely the winner will have to split the prize with others. This will largely decrease the value even if you do win the jackpot. So let’s move onto the other question.

How likely would you have to split the prize with others when the jackpot is getting larger?

  • Jackpot of a medium size

First, take a look at the $33 million jackpot — the largest one in the past year. The number of tickets sold was estimated to be 7.6 million.

Given that we can’t change the odds of winning the jackpot. The concern is if I do win, there could be multiple winners that I have to split the winnings with.

Based on the above information, we are able to calculate the probability of different scenarios, given you won the lottery.

This is looking very good. There’s a large chance (58%) you are the only winner and the prize will be the full size of $33 million.

But as mentioned earlier, as the jackpot gets bigger, the number of tickets sold will grow at a non-linear relationship.

  • Jackpot of historically large size

Let’s use the jackpot of $54.3 million that happened back in 2005 as an example again.

Now the story is completely different. This chart shows that most likely you’ll have to split the prize between 2–4 other winners, which would largely reduce the amount you can claim, even if you do win the jackpot.

The larger the jackpot, the more likely you will have to split the winning amount with other winners.

The popular draws will give you very small chance of being able to take the full prize home alone!

Summary

The above analysis is done on Canadian Lotto 6/49. However, similar ideas/results should apply to other lottery games such as Powerball in the US.

In short, the lottery is never a rational investment. The best time to buy is when the jackpot is very big!

Note from Towards Data Science’s editors: While we allow independent authors to publish articles in accordance with our rules and guidelines , we do not endorse each author’s contribution. You should not rely on an author’s works without seeking professional advice. See our Reader Terms for details.

¹ The data was scraped from the official website of Lotto 6/49. Only one year of data is currently available.

² Due to data limitations, we used the formula described on the official website of Lotto 6/49 to estimate total tickets sold based on the number of winners and prize amounts.

³ Due to data limitations, the expected value of the prizes other than the main jackpot was calculated as the average of the past year’s draws.

The lottery we are studying here is one of the most popular lottery games in Canada — Lotto 6/49. Like many other lottery games, Lotto 6/49 also rolls over the jackpot when there are no winning… ]]>