A lottery is a type of gambling where people buy tickets, and then win if their numbers get chosen.
A “lot” is something that happens by chance. You may have heard people say “let us decide by drawing lots” or “so that is my lot”.
Different Lotteries have different rules.
Here we will use a typical lottery where the player chooses 6 different numbers out of 49.
You enter the lottery by buying a ticket and selecting your six numbers.
You choose: 1, 2, 12, 14, 20 and 21
On Saturday they draw the lottery, and the winning numbers are:
3, 12, 18, 20, 32 and 43
You matched two of the numbers (12 and 20):
- Is that enough to win you anything? No.
- Usually you must match at least three numbers to get a small prize.
- Matching four numbers gets a bigger prize,
- Matching five is even bigger.
- But if you match ALL SIX of the numbers you might win millions.
The chances of winning all 6 numbers is 1 in 13,983,816 (calculated below).
These might win.
The numbers don’t know what they are!
A Lottery is just as likely to come up “1,2,3,4,5,6” as “9,11,16,23,27,36”
Instead of numbers they could be symbols, or colors, the lottery would still work.
In fact the result below really happened (Florida Fantasy 5 on 21 March 2011):
So it doesn’t matter what numbers you choose, the chances are all the same.
More Likely Numbers?
So you have read that some numbers come up more often than others? Well of course they do, that is random chance.
The people who run lotteries have strict rules to stop the “rigging” of results. But random chance can sometimes produce strange results.
For example, using The Spinner I did 1000 spins for 10 numbers and came up with this:
Wow! 7 came up 115 times,
and 8 only 81 times.
Does this mean 7 will now come up more often, or less often? In fact it doesn’t mean anything, 7 is just as likely as any number to get chosen.
Try it yourself and see what results you get.
But there is a trick! People have favorite numbers, so when popular numbers come up you are sharing the winnings with lots of people.
Birthdays are popular choices, so people choose 1-12 and 1-31 more often. Also lucky numbers.
So maybe you should choose unpopular numbers so when you DO win you get more money.
(This assumes your lottery is one where prizes are shared among winners.)
Don’t choose the same numbers every week. It’s a trap! If you forget a week you then worry that your numbers will come up, and this forces you to buy a ticket every week (even when you have other more important things to do).
Make a list of many unpopular numbers.
Choose randomly from this list every time.
A “Syndicate” is a group of people who all put in a little money so the group can buy lots of tickets. The chance of winning goes up, but your payout each time is less (because you are sharing).
Syndicates can be fun because they are sociable . a way of making and keeping friendships. Plus some syndicates like to spend small winnings on everyone going out for a meal together.
Another good reason for joining a syndicate is that your chances of winning go up (but what you win goes down).
Think about it . winning Ten Million would really change your life, but One Million would also improve your life a lot. You might prefer ten times the chance of winning one million.
Chance Of Winning the Big Prize
OK. What are the chances of you winning the big prize?
The chances of winning all 6 numbers is 1 in 13,983,816
You can use the Combinations and Permutations Calculator to work it out (use n=49, r=6, ‘No’ for Is Order Important? and ‘No’ for Is Repetition allowed?)
The actual calculation is this:
49 C6 = 49!/(43! x 6!) = 13983816
So how many times do you need to play to win?
Suppose you play every week
The probability of a win after 1 week is:
1 13983816 = 0.0000000715.
So the probability of no win after 1 week is:
1 в€’ 1 13983816 = 0.9999999285.
Let’s say you play for 50 years, that’s 2,600 weeks.
The probability of no win over 2,600 weeks is:
( 1 в€’ 1 13983816 ) 2600 = 0.999814.
That means the probability of winning (after 50 Years) is: 1 в€’ 0.999814. = 0.000186.
Still only about 0.02%
And you would have spent thousands for that small chance.
You may have had some good holidays for that money.
BUT it IS fun thinking “I just may win this week!”
Just keep it as a fun thing to do, OK?
- Find out the rules for winning Lotto in your area.
- How many numbers do you have to choose and how many numbers do you choose from?
- Calculate the probability of winning in any one week.
- Calculate the probability of winning if you play every week for 50 years.
- How much money would you save by not playing? What can that money buy?
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.