If you have a 1 in 300,000,000 probability of winning a lottery, you can improve those odds by buying 10 or 100 tickets.
Buy 10 tickets, and your probability of winning improves to 1 in 30,000,000.
And, if you buy 100 tickets, your probability of winning improves to 1 in 3,000,000.
Is it worth it, though?
When odds become so astronomical, does it really matter if they’ve improved by a factor of 10 or even 100?
Most people don’t realize how long the odds are of something happening once in every 300 million times.
Your odds of being struck by lightning are 1 in 500,000 this year.
Most people don’t give the idea of being struck by lightning a 2nd thought.
But even if you buy 100 tickets to the lottery, your odds of winning are still 6 times smaller than that of being struck by lightning.
And, if you only buy one ticket, your probability of winning the lottery is 600 times smaller than that of being struck by lightning.
Who wants to bet on that?
2 – Choosing the Right Game
I used the 1 in 300 million probability as an example. It’s based more-or-less on the odds of winning Mega Millions or Powerball.
But those aren’t the only two lottery games you can choose from.
Most states with a lottery also offer their own state game. The prize is smaller, but the odds of winning are better.
Here’s an example:
In Texas, the original lottery game is called “Texas Lotto.” To play, you choose 6 numbers from between 1 and 54. The drawings are held on Wednesdays and Saturdays.
The top prize is $9 million and grows when it’s not hit, it gets bigger.
The odds of winning the Texas Lotto are about 1 in 26 million.
That’s dramatically better.
Generally, the lower the size of the jackpot, the better your probability of winning.
If you think this means scratch-off tickets offer you the best probability of winning, you’re right.
I have more to say about scratch-off tickets later in this post.
3 – Forming a “Lottery Syndicate” Also Improves Your Odds
A lottery syndicate is a group of multiple players who each contribute money toward buying a large number of tickets.
You can start your own lottery syndicate or join someone else’s. Since you’re buying more tickets, your probability of winning improves – just like it would if you bought more tickets on your own.
Let’s say you recruit 9 other gamblers from work into your lottery syndicate, and you each agree to contribute $10 toward lottery tickets. This means you can buy $100 worth of tickets.
If you’re playing a game where a ticket costs a dollar, your syndicate has 100 tickets.
Here’s the catch:
When you win, you must split the winnings with the other players in the syndicate.
Lottery syndicates can cause you a lot of trouble if you don’t manage them appropriately, though. If you’re going to set one up, put everything in writing – how much does each member contribute, how much of the prize that entitles them to if they win, and which tickets were bought.
In some syndicates, you can contribute a variable amount, and that amount determines your percentage of the prize. For example, you might only be able to afford $5 per week. If your syndicate buys 100 dollar tickets, you’d be entitled to 1/20 of the prize money (5%).
No matter what, whoever is buying the tickets needs to make copies of the tickets to distribute to every member of the syndicate.
I’ve read about cases where someone had bought lottery tickets for the syndicate and also bought more tickets on their own. They didn’t provide everyone with copies of the tickets bought for the syndicate, and they claimed that the winning ticket was one that they bought individual rather than on behalf of the syndicate.
As you can imagine, this created some trust problems with the other members of the syndicate.
4 – Applying Basic Money Management Techniques
You can’t use money management techniques to improve your probability of winning the lottery. That’s just now how it works.
But money management techniques can help you limit the amount you lose and help you quit winners.
Money management has 3 aspects:
A win goal
A loss limit
Your bankroll is the amount of money you have set aside for gambling. I recommend never putting aside more than 1% of your annual income for gambling.
If you make $100,000 a year, that’s $1000 per year in gambling money.
Over 50 weeks (assuming you take 2 weeks off), that’s $20 per week.
That’s the most you’re allowed to spend on lottery tickets – if you decide the lottery is the gambling game you want to play.
A win goal is an amount you hope to win that indicates it’s time to quit. When you’re gambling in a casino, this is an amount you win that signifies you end your session.
A win goal in the lottery works differently. I suggest having a win goal for the year and quitting if you hit it.
This can be as simple as hoping to win a million dollars, or you could be less aggressive and decide to quit for the year if you win up $1000 ahead.
A loss limit, on the other hand, is an amount you’ve lost that indicates it’s time to quit. It’s usually a percentage of your bankroll.
If you’re a consistent lottery player, I suggest using 100% as your loss limit.
Go ahead and play every week until you hit your win goal for the year. After all, you set up your bankroll based on $20 per week.
This doesn’t improve your probability of winning, but it prevents you from losing an excessive amount of money on the lottery.
5 – Scratch and Win Tickets Can Have the Best Probability
The top prize for most scratch-off game is significantly smaller than the top prize for a draw game, but the upside is that your odds of winning are dramatically better.
What’s really cool about scratch-off tickets is that they offer a potential advantage gambling opportunity akin to the opportunity you have when counting cards in real money blackjack.
Here’s what I mean:
Let’s say you have a hypothetical scratch and win game where the top prize is $1000, and the game only has 2000 tickets available.
Your probability of winning the $1000 prize is 1/2000.
But if the game’s been going on for a while, some of those tickets are already sold. And if the prize hasn’t been won yet, your probability of winning that prize has improved.
Of course, you can’t estimate with any degree of accuracy how many tickets have been sold.
But if you pay attention to how long specific games last, you can get an idea.
Let’s say you’ve been watching the scratch-off games in your state, and you’ve come to the conclusion that the average scratch game only lasts about 8 weeks.
If the average scratch game has 2000 tickets, the average number of tickets being sold each week is 250 tickets.
You could estimate that after 5 weeks, 1250 tickets have been sold. If the top prize of $1000 hasn’t been won yet, your probability of winning it might be close to 1 in 750.
That’s a profitable bet in the long run.
Of course, these numbers are intentionally small and for illustrative purposes only. Finding positive expectation bets on scratch and win tickets isn’t as easy it might sound.
But it’s still better than playing Mega Millions or Powerball.
6 – Don’t Play the Lottery
The odds of winning are terrible for the lottery, and the house edge is enormous. Playing the lottery is one of the worst things you can do with your money even if you adhere to the other tips in this post. Limiting yourself to 1% of your income as a gambling budget is a good move, but it’s still a negative expectation decision.
You could take that money and invest it in the stock market instead. If you earn just the average return, you’ll do far better than you would putting that money into the lottery.
Over the last 30 years, if you’d invested your money in an index fund, you’d have seen a 9% annual return.
If you invest $1000 a year at 9% over the course of the next 30 years, you’ll have saved over $150,000.
That’s a lot of money to leave on the table to just play the lottery with and probably end up with nothing to show for it.
That’s also a good example of the magic of compound interest combined with consistency.
7 – Save Your Money and Go to the Casino Instead
All casino games offer better odds than the lottery, and the games are more fun besides. The average lottery game has a house edge of around 50%, which means that in the long run the lottery expects to win 50% of every bet you make.
Even slot machines offer better odds than that. The slots at the airport in Las Vegas are notoriously tight – meaning they have a high house edge – but they still offer a house edge of 25% or so. That’s half as much as the lottery.
If you play slot machines at casinos on the Strip in Vegas, the house edge might only be 6% or 7%.
If you stick with a game like blackjack, you can get an even better house edge of between 0.5% and 1%.
Think about the difference here:
You bet $1000 on the lottery, and you’re expected to lose $500.
You bet $1000 on blackjack, and you’re only expected to lose between $5 and $10.
Still, even if you just wing it, the house edge on blackjack probably won’t be more than 4% or 5%, which means losing $40 or $50 instead of $500.
Plus, you’ll get to enjoy some restaurants and some shows.
If you’re like me, you probably live driving distance from a casino.
You shouldn’t lose a lot of money gambling on anything, but if you’re going to gamble, I suggest trying to find games with better odds than the lottery.
Those are my 7 best tips for winning the lottery.
If you read many other posts on the subject on the internet, you’ll probably find that my thinking on the subject runs contrary to the thinking of many other writers.
I’m okay with that, but let me ask you a question:
What do you think?
What are your best tips for winning the lottery?
Michael Stevens has been researching and writing topics involving the gambling industry for well over a decade now and is considered an expert on all things casino and sports betting. Michael has been writing for GamblingSites.org since early 2016. ...
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