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How to win the Lottery: A Professional Gambler’s Guide to Lottery

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Welcome to Simon’s Lottery Guide, the definitive, constantly updated guide (with calculators!) showing you how to win the lottery – or at least increase your chances to do so.

I’m Simon, the man behind Simon’s Gambling Blog, the internet’s number one gambling blog.

I’ve been gambling for  8 years, 2 of which was spent as a professional gambler gambling for a living (you can read that story here). I’ve been blogging about gambling for 2 years on this blog and I’ve been working with some of the biggest casinos since 2013.

I wanted to weigh in on the lottery advantage gambling techniques (advantage gambling is a term used by professional gamblers, it means using techniques to increase your chances at winning – in this case winning the lottery).

There is a lot of confusion, misinformation and many half-truths online about how to increase your chances to win the lottery. Some even doubt, whether it is possible to increase your chances at all.

Many dishonest guides on how to win the lottery are created by unethical companies; unethical lottery brokers and by unscrupulous gambling bloggers wishing to make a quick buck.

My goal is to compile all the working methods/techniques you can use to increase your chances at winning the lottery (online or offline, state or national) and list all the non-working methods as well to end the confusion about what works and what doesn’t  and why.

This is intended to be the definitive guide on how to win the lottery.

Read through the whole guide, or choose a subtopic from the menu below. If you like the article, please give it a +1:

 

Simon’s definitive guide on how to win the lottery

 

 

How to win the lottery: The basics

 

Lottery, (a.k.a lotto in many countries) comes in many varieties and each require a different approach.

However, it must be noted, that the house edge of lottery games is as high as 60% – 70 % depending on the exact type.

What is house edge?

House edge is the ratio of the average loss of the player to the initial bet. The higher the house edge is, the worseit is for the players.

Example: If you play Casino Craps, which has a house edge of 1.4 % – much, much lower than lotto –  you can assume that for every $ 100 you wager you lose $1.4 on the long-run. From the casino’s perspective: the casino can expect to make $1.4 if you wager $ 100. /

 

The average gambler can only expect to lose on the long-run by playing the lottery. The chance of winning the lottery is, in fact, lower than getting struck by lightning. Still, according to the law of large numbers, there will always be lottery winners – and it might even be you! (Interestingly, it is this very same statistical law that ensures that casinos always win on the long run.)  Even lottery winners should keep in mind, that the house edge remains, and it is just as unlikely for them to win a second time, as it is for anyone else to win at all.

 

The lottery is low-intensity gambling, perfect for many people who dislike online casinosbrick & mortar casinos or don’t like playing poker. However, lottery is not only gambling:

Lottery is a form of lifestyle. Buying a ticket and watching the draw is traditional and might even be a family activity, something to bond over.
For many people it gives hope that one day they just might be able to break away from their 9-to-5 lifestyle, and that hope helps them carry on.

 

Is it possible  to increase my chances to win the lottery?

 

Many people doubt it, but it is indeed possible.

Let me show you how by collecting and explaining the different working methods and techniques you can use to increase your chances at winning the lottery. If you don’t believe me just use the calculators embedded.

“You must be joking! The only way to increase your chances at winning the lottery is to buy more lottery tickets” – you might say. That’s one way to increase your chances at winning the lottery, however that does not increase the return of a single lottery ticket.

What is return?

Return, or return to player is the amount of money paid back to players by the casino in the form of winnings. it is calculates as: winning/investment

Buying two lottery tickets doubles your chances of winning, thereby doubling the expected amount of money won as well. However, the cost of lottery tickets, the “investment” is also doubled, which means the return remains the same, no matter the amoung of lottery tickets bought.

Because of the house edge, lotteries always have a return to player that is lower than 1 (that is, lower than 100%) .

 

We will focus on methods meant to increase the return of a single lottery ticket.

 

How to win the lottery: methods that work

 

Let’s see the working methods to increase your chances at winning the jackpot at the lottery.

 

Find the right type of lottery

There are many types of lotteries with different return and house edge. Many of them have fixed and many of them have progressive jackpots. Let’s take a look at the rules of each game, as well as the numbers on return, house edge, and how much you can expect to win, if you hit the jackpot:

 

Pick 3

The player chooses 2-3 numbers from 0-9. The lottery chooses 3 winning numbers.

Each ball selected is from a separate set so it is possible to have combinations like 1-1-1 .

Pick 3 - Jackpot house edge and return

Jackpot is called straight and it is fixed.

Straight: If the player chose all 3 correct numbers in the correct order, it’s called a straight and pays $500 for a $ 1 lottery ticket.

House edge:  50%
Return: 50%
Probability to win the Jackpot: 0.001 %

The calculations do not take into consideration gambling taxation and annuity and lump sum costs. More about this at the Annuity vs. lump sum section.  It is calculated as if you were to receive all your winning as a lump sum instantly without any cost.  Read the annuity and lump sum section, research how your gambling winnings are taxed in your country and adjust it accordingly.

Pick 4

Same as Pick 3 but you choose 4 balls. More combinations are possible and the jackpot is higher

Pick 4 - house edge and return

Jackpot is called straight and it is fixed.

Straight: Matching all 4 numbers in the correct order, pays $5000 for a $ 1 lottery ticket.

House edge:  50%
Return: 50%
Probability to win the Jackpot: 0.0001 %

The calculations do not take into consideration gambling taxation and annuity and lump sum costs. More about this at the Annuity vs. lump sum section.  It is calculated as if you were to receive all your winning as a lump sum instantly without any cost.  Read the annuity and lump sum section, research how your gambling winnings are taxed in your country and adjust it accordingly.

Cash in Hand 7/31

The player chooses 7 numbers out the 31 available.

Cash in Hand 7/31 - house edge and return

To win the jackpot you need to guess all the 7 numbers right. Jackpot is fixed.
Jackpot pays $ 500,000 for a $ 1 lottery ticket.

House edge:  40.9%
Return: 59.1%
Probability to win the Jackpot:  0.00000038 %

The calculations do not take into consideration gambling taxation and annuity and lump sum costs. More about this at the Annuity vs. lump sum section.  It is calculated as if you were to receive all your winning as a lump sum instantly without any cost.  Read the annuity and lump sum section, research how your gambling winnings are taxed in your country and use the calculators below to adapt the calculations to your exact situation. 

Lotto 6/49

You choose 6 numbers out of the 49 available.

Lotto 6/49 - house edge and return

To win the jackpot you need to guess all the 6 numbers right. Jackpot is fixed.
Jackpot pays $ 3,650,000 for a $ 1 lottery ticket. 

House edge:  27.5%
Return: 72.5%
Probability to win the Jackpot: 0.00000007 %

The calculations do not take into consideration gambling taxation and annuity and lump sum costs. More about this at the Annuity vs. lump sum section.  It is calculated as if you were to receive all your winning as a lump sum instantly without any cost.  Read the annuity and lump sum section, research how your gambling winnings are taxed in your country and use the calculators below to adapt the calculations to your exact situation. 

Lotto 5/50 a.k.a The Big Game

The player chooses 5 out of the 50 numbers available.

Lotto 5/50 - house edge and return


To win the jackpot you need to correctly guess the 5 numbers and choose the right “money ball” between 1 and 36, which makes house edge a bit tricky to calculate. Also, jackpot is progressive, which means house edge is not constant, but changes with the size of the jackpot.

I will calculate with a jackpot of $ 50 million.

Jackpot pays $ 50 million  for a $ 1 lottery ticket. 

House edge: 16.5%
Return: 83.5%
Probability to win the Jackpot:  0.000000013 %

The calculations do not take into consideration gambling taxation and annuity and lump sum costs. More about this at the Annuity vs. lump sum section.  It is calculated as if you were to receive all your winning as a lump sum instantly without any cost.  Read the annuity and lump sum section, research how your gambling winnings are taxed in your country and use the calculators below to adapt the calculations to your exact situation. 

Powerball

The player pick 5 out of the 55 numbers available. A Powerball must also be picked from 42 numbers.

There is also the Power-Play option. Power Play multiplies your  winning for $ 1 by 2,3,4,5  chosen randomly except for the jackpot.

Powerball - house edge and return

To win the jackpot you need to guess all the 5 numbers right as well as the Powerball. Jackpot is progressive, therefore the house edge and return changes all the time.

I will calculate with a jackpot of $ 100 million because Powerball usually has insanely high jackpots.

Jackpot pays $ 100 million  for a $ 1 lottery ticket without Power-Play

Without Power-Play:

House edge:  11.8%
Return: 88.15%
Probability to win the Jackpot:  0.0000006844%

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The calculations do not take into consideration gambling taxation and annuity and lump sum costs. More about this at the Annuity vs. lump sum section.  It is calculated as if you were to receive all your winning as a lump sum instantly without any cost.  Read the annuity and lump sum section, research how your gambling winnings are taxed in your country and use the calculators below to adapt the calculations to your exact situation. 

With Power-Play:

House edge:   -17.7%
Return: 117.72%
Probability to win the Jackpot:  0.0000006844%

As you can see with power play the house edge is actually minus! However, the calculations do not take into consideration gambling taxation and annuity and lump sum costs. More about this at the Annuity vs. lump sum section.

It is calculated as if you were to receive all your winning as a lump sum instantly without any cost.  Read the annuity and lump sum section, research how your gambling winnings are taxed in your country and use the calculators below to adapt the calculations to your exact situation.

But it is clear from the calculation that as thumb rule it is much more beneficial to power play, than not to.

 

Here is a quick recap (for details see above) of the house edge and return of the different types of lottery games as calculated above:

 Type  House edge Return Probability of winning the jackpot
Pick 3  50%  50%  0.001%
Pick 4  50%  50%  0.0001%
 Cash in Hand 7/31  40.9%  59.1%  0.00000038 %
 Lotto 6/49  27.5%  72.5%  0.00000007 %
 Lotto 5/50, The Big Game  ?  ?  0.0000013110 %
 Powerball  ? ?  0.0000006844%

?: Lottery draws with progressive jackpots do not have a fixed return or house edge. See the calculator for return and house edge.

 

First of all I only included the probability to win the jackpot because people like to know it. It’s sensationalist and very much “tabloid”.

If you are serious about making money playing the lottery; winning the jackpot at the lottery you need to take on the habits and attitude of professional gamblers. Professional gamblers look at house edge and return, because professional gamblers know that maximizing your chances at winning is also about minimizing your losses.

Games with fixed payout have fixed return rates and house edge. In games with progressive jackpots, however, return grown and house edge shrinks with the growth of the jackpot. In theory, it’s possible that, at a high enough jackpot, house edge would be negative (even after taxes), and the expected value of playing the lottery would be positive!

You should always check progressive jackpots and keep an eye out for such opportunities. I can only suggest playing progressive jackpot lotteries.

With the calculators below you can calculate the exact value of the house edge as it is right now.

 

Probability and progressive jackpot lottery calculator


Update: For some reason the embedded calculator is not accessible to non-Gmail users (sometimes for Gmail users as well) , till I can fix it you can access the calculator here.

 

The calculator does not take into consideration gambling taxation and annuity and lump sum costs. It varies greatly from country-to-country and at which lottery you play. More about this at the Annuity vs. lump sum section.

The results are calculated as if you were to receive all your winning as a lump sum instantly without any cost.  Read the annuity and lump sum section, research how your gambling winnings are taxed in your country and use the calculators below to adapt the calculations to your exact situation.

 

Take advantage of online and offline lottery promotions

Lottery is a highly competitive market and competition favours the customer. As companies bend over backwards for you – the player -, you will surely find some sweet deals, which turns the odds in your favour even more.

This is especially true for online lotteries. Lottery sales are increasingly going online and people are getting their tickets on the internet and the best deals are online.

 

Check out international lotteries online

Although Mega Millions and Powerball tend to make the most headlines there are still many lotteries worldwide which have huge progressive jackpots.   For example in Europe, EuroMillions and EuroJackpot are lottos which have top jackpots which can be worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

In Europe the prize money is tax-free and paid out immediately in one lump sum rather than over 20 years in increments.  That means that although the prizes might appear smaller than the US mega lotteries, in reality they often work out to be worth more money when you take taxes and inflation into account.

Another one to keep in your calendar is the Spanish Xmas lottery which happens each year on December 22nd.  Although it costs € 200 per ticket, you can buy 1/10th shares if you want to wager less.

You have a 1 in 100,000 chance of winning the El Gordo jackpot!

 

Consider the tax implications

 

In the United States, gambling winnings are taxable, but gambling losses are only deductible to offset winnings. This legal asymmetry may affect the math. The double draw promotion that resulted in a 20 percent player advantage before tax considerations is only profitable after taxes, provided the player can purchase the hundreds of tickets required to cover a significant fraction of the 1000 outcomes.

 

Annuity vs. lump sum

 

If you win the lottery you will be given the choice between receiving your winnings as a lump sum, one-off payment or as an annuity for 20-30 years.

At least in the US the maximum, 29.6% tax rate will apply if you choose the lump sum.
However if you choose the annuity you probably end up paying less taxes.

Not to mention most lotteries offer favorable interest rates on their annuities. Of course if the company goes bankrupt in the meantime you will stop receiving the annuity – if the lottery is state owned probably that won’t happen .

As a thumb rule choosing an annuity is usually a better option but if you win millions, you should definitely consider consulting a lawyer.

 

Pick numbers over 31 and avoid common lucky numbers or patterns

 

Whenever you choose your lottery numbers you should always pick numbers over 31.  The reasoning behind this is simple.  People tend to pick numbers based on “lucky dates” like birthdays, anniversaries and other special occasions.

The thing is, you share big lottery prizes with all of the other winners which can cut your share down in a hurry if you choose popular numbers.  If 10 people all guess the correct numbers for a $10,000,000 jackpot everyone is walking away with $1,000,000.

Nothing to sneeze at, but if 1 person gets the winning numbers by themselves than that one person takes the whole $10 million.  And since all numbers have an equal chance of being drawn, as long as you can put your superstitions behind you then you have just as good of a chance to win with unpopular numbers as you do with good old lucky 7!  The most common lucky numbers which you should avoid are 1, 3, 4, 7, 9 and 11.  Also avoid common patterns, particularly straight lines across a lottery ticket as there are a surprising number of lazy players who go for 1,2,3,4, and 5.

Go with a random number generator:

If you want to get really technical you can try a random number generator.  There are lots of these available over the web and while they won’t increase your chances of winning as some websites bizarrely claim, they will give you the best chance of not choosing the same numbers as other players.

 

Methods that don’t work

 

Don’t join a syndicate

When you play in a lottery syndicate or group you disperse the cost of tickets and increase your chances of winning simply by having more horses in the race.
However, you also have to share whatever you win. Pretty much losing everything you gain by joining the syndicate.

But most importantly syndicate agreements are usually poorly written.  Many don’t specify how any money which is won will be shared out and what happens for example if someone misses a draw because they call in sick for work or other common circumstances. There are plenty of stories of lottery groups taking each other to court.

Spare yourself the headache, go solo.

 

Don’t buy a book or pay for any “secret method”

There many scam artists online claiming, that they have cracked the “lottery code” and have found a way to consistently increase return per ticket by using “top-secret methods”.
Of course they are so helpful and friendly, that they are willing to share this information with you for a LOW–LOW price!

Ask yourself: If they are really so good at making money playing the lottery, why do they need to sell e-books about it?

Obviously these are all scams. A good example of scam site like this is: smartluck.com

 

I hope you found my guide useful an it will help you make the most out your time playing the lottery.

If you liked the article, please give it a +1:

 

I wholeheartedly wish you Good Luck!

Gamble responsibly. See you at the next draw,
SimonTheSorcerer

 

Last updated: 2015.10.25.

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Simon's Lottery Guide: How to win the Lottery
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Simon's definitive, constantly updated guide (with calculators!) helping you to win the lottery.
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