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Is It Better to Buy Separate Lottery Tickets?

Everyone fantasizes at least once in their life about winning the lottery and quitting the job they hate. That fantasy inspires many to buy multiple lottery tickets. How do you increase your chances of winning – buying separate tickets or several of the same game?

It’s better to buy separate lottery tickets from several different games. Buying multiple tickets for the Powerball won’t increase your odds of winning. If you buy tickets from multiple games, however, you might have a better chance of winning something, even if it’s small.

Some might think that the lottery is based on pure luck, but really, it’s based on mathematical odds. This article will explain those odds and why it’s better to buy separate lottery tickets from different games instead of throwing all of your money toward the Powerball.

It’s Not About Your Luck

“They’re so lucky!” everyone says when the Powerball winner is announced. Maybe it seems like they were lucky, but that’s not how the lottery works.

Luck is the belief that things happen randomly. You have a random chance of finding a penny on the ground, getting that amazing job you applied for or getting an extra chicken nugget in the 10-piece box. A lucky person would experience these random good fortunes.

An unlucky person, on the other hand, will probably lose a penny, won’t get an interview for the job, or will have nine nuggets instead of 10. There’s no clear reason why all these things happen to a person. They’re just unlucky.

The lottery doesn’t work this way. While it may seem like luck has bestowed a 1 in 292,201,338 chance of winning the Powerball jackpot onto the luckiest person in America, these odds can be determined by math. Mathematical explanations and luck just don’t quite add up together.

How the Odds Work

Let’s say there are 100 candies in a bowl. Ninety-nine of them are Skittles, and 1 of them is an M&M. If you draw only one candy, you have a 1% chance of getting the M&M. You can increase your odds by drawing more candies. Drawing a total of 10 means you have a 10% chance of getting the M&M, and the percentage will rise as you grab more candies.

Lotteries don’t work this way. There isn’t a set number of tickets that are going to be sold, with one of them being the winning number. If that was the case, everyone would be buying as many tickets as they possibly could. Instead, numbers are drawn at random, and you have to guess those numbers correctly in that order.

There are several things working against you with this system:

  • The odds are fixed – you can’t increase your odds with more tickets.
  • Multiple people can end up with the same numbers.
  • There are too many combinations to try to find them all.

In the Powerball, there is always a small chance of winning. Even if you buy ten tickets, it’s still a tiny chance that you might win.

Why It’s Better to Buy Separate Tickets

Buying separate tickets means buying from multiple lotteries or not buying the tickets in order. For the Powerball, the order that you buy your tickets doesn’t really matter since it’s about the numbers drawn. For scratch-off lottery tickets, you might have better chances of winning by buying in order if every 3rd, 4th, or 5th ticket is a winner. In his book, the famous lottery winner, Richard Lustig also mentions buying lottery tickets in bulk as one of his winning strategies. (The secrets of Lustig’s winning system is available on lotterywinneruniversity.com.)

But, it’s better to buy separate tickets from multiple lotteries, so you have a chance of winning something, even if it’s just $20, $50, or $100. The more money you spend on lottery tickets is the more money you’re losing. Maybe you’ve spent $1,000 on tickets throughout the years, and you finally win $2,000. But, it took half of that just to win that much.

While you wait for the Powerball, play other lotteries to increase your chances of a payout. If there are small local lotteries, you have a better chance of winning on those because fewer people are playing them. Consider that the payouts are likely to be smaller with these, however.

You’re Probably Better Off Not Playing

While discussing odds and “luck,” it should be noted that you’re better off not buying any tickets at all. That might not be what you want to hear, but in terms of mathematics, the logic checks out.

Let’s say have $50 to spend on lottery tickets, and you’re hoping to at least break even. So, you go out and buy some lottery tickets. You could either buy all your tickets separately or all from the same game.

You have a chance of losing money. Maybe you get $4 from one ticket and $25 from another, but that’s all you get. Or, maybe you’re an “unlucky” person, and you didn’t win anything at all. So, you’re out $50, and you’re not getting that back.

If you hadn’t bought any lottery tickets, you didn’t have any chance of winning. But, you also didn’t have a chance at losing $50, either. By not playing, you still have $50 that you could spend on other things.

Some people like to play for the thrill of it, understanding that they probably won’t win anything. The idea of possibly having your life changed overnight is enough of a reason to go out and buy several tickets, and that’s okay. But if you want to use math to better your odds, keeping your money might be the better option for you.

How to Increase Your Chances of Winning

While there’s a mathematical explanation for winning the lottery, there are a few ways you can increase your chances of winning.

Be Smart With Your Money

Only spend as much money on lottery tickets as you can afford to lose. More often than not, you’re going to lose money on tickets while waiting for the big payout. Sometimes you might be feeling lucky and want to spend a little extra, but it might not be wise. Set up a weekly or monthly budget and don’t stray from it.

Consistency

Consistently buying tickets gives you a greater chance of winning. This is why budgeting is important – it will allow you to continue playing without overspending. Try to buy one or two each week to increase your odds of winning something.

Don’t Put All Your Eggs in the Same Basket

It’s an old saying, but the idea still holds true. Don’t put all your money toward the same lottery. Increase your chance of winning by purchasing multiple tickets from different lotteries. That way, you have a better chance of winning something from one of the games, rather than losing everything from one game.

Another aspect is to play all the numbers. Many people choose birthdays because they think it’s lucky, but that limits you to specific numbers. Plus, since many people play birthdays, you risk sharing the winnings with several people. Choose numbers above 31 for a better chance to win.

Conclusion

It’s better to buy separate lottery tickets to increase your chance of winning something. The odds of winning are purely mathematical, so it’s better to use multiple lotteries to try to win something. The chances of winning the big lotteries like the Powerball are so slim that it actually might be better to not spend money at all because you have a better chance of losing all of your money than you do winning some.

Everyone fantasizes at least once in their life about winning the lottery and quitting the job they hate. That fantasy inspires many to buy multiple lottery tickets. How do you increase your chances of winning – buying separate tickets or several of the same game?

As the Powerball jackpot tips over $600 million, let’s remember the time Fox News gave the worst lottery advice ever

The best piece of financial advice for playing the lottery is probably to not play the lottery, but in 2016, Fox News offered a very questionable suggestion for would-be gamblers.

Early that year, the Powerball lottery hit a jackpot of over a billion dollars for the first time. Amid the media mania surrounding the massive prize, liberal media-watchdog group Media Matters tweeted a screenshot from a “Fox and Friends” segment advising a simple strategy for maximizing your chances of winning the lottery: Buy as many tickets as you can afford.

This is technically true. Buying more lottery tickets does increase your chances of winning the lottery. In Powerball, there are 292,201,338 possible tickets. Buy one ticket, and you have a one in 292,201,338 chance of winning the jackpot. Buy two tickets, you have a two in 292,201,338 chance. And so on.

Even though buying more tickets technically increases your chances of winning, buying as many tickets as you can is probably a really bad idea.

The first problem is that your likelihood of winning is still incredibly low, even if you buy a bunch of tickets. Your odds of being struck by lightning in the next year are about 120 times higher than a two in 292,201,338 chance. Buying 10 tickets and giving yourself a 10 in 292,201,338 chance still leaves you about six times as likely to die in a plane crash as you are to win Powerball.

An even bigger problem is that this is a monumentally terrible idea from a financial perspective. Assuming you take the lump sum, which you likely should, and factoring in taxes, each one of those tickets has a negative expected value, meaning that each lottery ticket represents a likely loss of money. Buying more tickets, then, just increases the amount of money you’re likely to lose.

Buying a ton of lottery tickets, while making your chances of winning the jackpot marginally better, is a terrible “strategy.”

According to Media Matters, Fox News suggested that one should buy as many lottery tickets as one can afford. This is probably a bad idea. ]]>