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Skip Powerball And Play This Instead, Expert Says

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With the Powerball jackpot hovering at well over $1 billion, it seems like any “investment” you could afford would be worth the chance at the big prize. But one lottery expert says that unless you’re a professional player—who can spend five or six figures at a time per game, or who is part of a big-money team pool—you should skip Powerball and concentrate your efforts on smaller games.

A man purchases a Powerball lottery ticket at a convenience store in Washington, DC. AFP PHOTO / . [+] SAUL LOEB

“Aside from high-odds lucky jackpot wins, the real money is made in the trenches of the pick-3, pick-4 and pick-5 games. This is where you will find the successful pro players firmly embedded with their charts, graphs, wheels and proven winning systems,” says the aptly named Steve Player, a lottery expert who has won two major jackpots, New York Pick-6 Lotto and Florida Fantasy Five. He’s won lotteries in 27 states and holds records for the highest single day payouts on pick-3 and pick-4 numbers, he says. He “predicts” winning numbers for his subscriber base of half a million people and recommends a system of regular betting.

Gallery: 10 Steps To Take When You Win A Lottery Jackpot

Most probability professionals will agree that you can’t game a fair system. They scoff at any kind of scheme that promises better odds of winning a fair game with a random drawing, as each number has its own equal chance of being drawn each time.

“Financially, it most definitely does not make sense to play the lottery. The vast majority of lottery players lose money,” says University of Southern California mathematics professor Kenneth Alexander, who specializes in probability and something called “subadditive Euclidean functionals.” He dismisses anyone who makes money selling winning advice or number-selection tricks as a charlatan. “The people making money off the lottery are mostly those who want to sell you useless schemes to try to win. If there were financially sound ways to beat the lottery, hedge funds and the rest of Wall Street would have been all over it long ago. People who play it should look at it as entertainment, coming out of the part of their budget that covers movies and ice cream cones. If the feeling that you hypothetically could win is worth $2 to you, then buy a ticket, but just know that that feeling is almost certainly the only thing you’ll get for your money.”

Why you should stay away from Powerball

Alexander points out that each possible Powerball entry has odds of 1 in 292 million, in every drawing. “The only thing you can change is reducing your chances of having to share the jackpot, if you hypothetically do win. You do that by picking unpopular numbers–typically those more than 31 since they are no one’s birthday,” he says.

Player calls Powerball, and its high-caliber cousins, Mega Millions and pick-5 hybrid games, “the crown jewels of the lottery game kingdom” that should only be pursued by serious players “who have amassed considerable wagering budgets from other games that they have learned to win consistently.”

To win the big games, a player must correctly choose five numbers from a field of between 30 and 75 numbers, and then pick the right number, in addition, from a separate field of between six and 35 numbers. “I call this the ‘double whammy’ of all lottery games,” he says. “With several jackpots already posted in excess of $500 million, these games are the worst places you could ever choose to donate your wagering dollars. These games are cash cows for the lottery, designed to produce large jackpots that they can advertise in order to sell more tickets.”

Alexander says: “My favorite description of Powerball odds is that if you’d been buying 1,800 tickets per week since the time of Jesus, there’s a better-than-even chance you wouldn’t have won the jackpot yet.”

What just might work

Again, there are no absolute strategies to winning lotteries—but both Player and Alexander have ideas on how to get an edge.

Player’s progressive-play method for amateurs goes like this:

  1. Start at your state’s pick-3 game and play “boxed” bets, which allow you to match winning numbers in any order. Then try the same in pick-4 games.
  2. When you’ve started winning, reinvest that money into “straight” wagers in the pick-3 and pick-4 games, in which you must match winning numbers in the order they were drawn.
  3. When you’ve begun winning the pick-3 and pick-4 games, move on to pick-5 or pick-6.
  4. Only when you have a lot of money amassed that you’re willing to lose, head on to the major jackpot games, such as Powerball.

“Here is the bottom line which I have derived from over 35 years of playing and winning the lottery,” Player says, “the more you learn about the games and all of the patterns and trends that affect the numbers which are drawn, the better you will get at winning …Once you take the time to learn the proper methods, this is a place full of smiling faces; players reveling in the joy of the challenge and the sweet smell of victory. These are the players who look at the lottery as a potential ATM machine that keeps changing its PIN number. It is our job to figure out what that PIN number will be today, because this ATM machine never runs out of cash.”

Alexander notes that the ways people have successfully figured out how to win—besides outright fraud and cheating—is by detecting patterns in when and where winning scratch-off tickets are distributed. He also mentioned a way that well-trained mathematicians who belonged to a lottery ring figured out how to game a lottery called Cash WinFall in Massachusetts by timing their ticket-buying to take advantage of a loophole that allowed more winners to take lower amounts every three months.

“But this does not apply to Powerball, because there’s no relevant information in advance of the drawing,” Alexander said, adding, “it doesn’t matter what game you play–pick 3, pick 4, Powerball, etcetera–and it doesn’t matter what strategy you use, you are extremely likely to lose money in the long run.”

Don’t throw money away on Powerball tickets. The smaller games deliver better results for amateur players.

Pick 3 odds

Tuesday, 11/24
Midday →

Tuesday, 11/24
Evening →

Top Prize:
up to $2,500

Next Drawing:
Wednesday, 11/25
Midday

PICK 3 ®

Check Your Numbers

GET MORE FROM YOUR JACKPOT GAMES USING THE APP

Enter your favorite numbers and if they’re drawn you’ll be notified via text, and get alerts when the jackpots are REALLY big. Plus, scan a Jackpot ticket through the mobile app and it will automatically be entered into any eligible Bonus Draws!

  • Custom Game Alerts
  • Enter Bonus Draws
  • Exclusive Events & Contests

CLAIM WINNINGS

Think you’re a winner? Then it’s time to claim your prize! Double-check your numbers and the draw date before signing the back of your ticket and cashing it in. How to Claim

IT’S EASY TO PLAY

  1. PICK YOUR NUMBERS Choose 3 numbers between 0-9, can be separate or duplicated. Pick between 5 betting options to win.
  2. BUY YOUR TICKET Tickets cost $.50; $1; $2 and $5 depending on wager. Must be 18, available at most CO retailers. Place your bet!
  3. CHOOSE YOUR DRAWING Play Midday, Evening or both. Play up to 28 days for just Midday or just Evening. Play both drawings for up to 56 drawings.
  4. CHECK YOUR WINNINGS Check your texts, email, local news, etc. to see if you won big!
It’s Easy to Play

GAME TOOLS

Take your game to the next level with our helpful tools. Learn the luckiest numbers, winning history and as always – expect the unexpected.

Winning HistoryGame Tool

Track the history behind your favorite Jackpot games, from winning numbers to Colorado Jackpot winners and more.

Luckiest NumbersGame Tool

Is your lucky number all that lucky? See how many times your favorite numbers have been drawn, and take your best guess of what will be drawn next.

Luckiest StoresGame Tool

See how lucky your local retailer really is with our easy-to-use tool.

Quién está ganando

Averigua quién está ganando en grande por todo el estado, y dónde compraron sus boletos de la suerte. ¡Tú podrías ser el próximo!

PICK 3 PAYOUTS & ODDS OF WINNING

MATCH IF YOU PLAY WINNING COMBINATIONS $0.50 BET $1.00 BET $2.00 BET $5.00 BET ODDS
Exact Order 567 567 $250 $500 $1,000 $2,500 1 in 1,000
Any Order (6-Way) 567 567 576 657 675 756 765 $40 $80 $160 $400 1 in 167
Any Order
(two of the same number)
566 566 656 665 $80 $160 $320 $800 1 in 333
Exact
+
Any Order
567 567 N/A* $250 $500 $1,250 1 in 1,000
567 576 657 675 756 765 N/A* $40 $80 $200 1 in 167
Exact
+
Any Order
(two of the same number)
566 566 N/A* $250 $500 $1,250 1 in 1,000
566 656 665 N/A* $80 $160 $400 1 in 333
Front Pair 56X 560 561 562 563 564 565 566 567 568 569 $30 $60 $120 $300 1 in 100
Back Pair X65 065 165 265 365 465 565 665 765 865 965 $30 $60 $120 $300 1 in 100

*The Exact Order + Any Order bet option is always a $1 bet ($.50 for Exact Order + $.50 for Any Order)

DRAWING DETAILS

Drawing Days
Twice a day, seven days a week at approx. 1:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.

TICKET SALES & REDEMPTION

No ticket sales or redemptions during these times:
MON – SUN: 1:30 P.M. – 1:33 P.M. and
7:30 P.M. – 7:33 P.M.
MON – SAT: 12:00 A.M. – 4:30 A.M.
SUN: 12:00 A.M. – 8:00 A.M.

GAME RULES

Ticket buyers must be 18 or older. Pick 3 tickets cost $.50, $1.00, $2.00 or $5.00 depending on the bet type you choose to play. Tickets are available at most Colorado retailers.

DRAWING PROCESS

We conduct our drawings with high levels of integrity and security.

GAME ODDS

Odds are dependent on bet type played. The chart below shows payouts associated with bet types.

$3.5 Billion invested in Colorado

Supporting trails, parks, pools and recreation

Pick three is a daily jackpot game where players pick 3 numbers between 0-9 and play $.50 to $1 for a chance to win. ]]>