Have Fun Playing the Lottery
There is a lot of buzz currently in the United States about the growing prize money in the Mega Millions lottery. This got me thinking about ways to improve the fun of playing the lottery. There are also simple techniques that mathematically improve your chances. Of course, the odds are still very, very long but to quote perhaps the most famous space scoundrel of all time "Never tell me the odds"
1. Games with progressive jackpots can eventually become a positive outcome game.
For example, the odds of winning the jackpot on Mega Millions has been calculated to be approx. 303 million to one. And the price of the basic ticket is $2 per game. That means that anytime the jackpot is above roughly $606 million then it makes sense to play because the payout is equal or greater to the win expectation. Of course, this is assuming that the published amount is actually the amount pocketed by a single winner. And we know that is not true because we are not taking taxes, fees, automatic deductions, etc. into account. The actual jackpot prize amount to give us a fair expectation of return is much higher. But fear not. There are a few other simple things you can do to not only increase the odds of winning but to have fun with your $2.
2. Buy more tickets.
With the standard caveat of you should never gamble more than you can afford to lose, it does make more sense to buy more tickets when the odds are more in your favor.
3. Join a lottery pool with friends or coworkers.
This allows you to being playing many more tickets for a lower overall cash outlay. And playing with friends makes it more fun.
4. Don't play random numbers on individual play.
It is a lot more fun to play numbers that are significant to you in some way or another. It also makes your numbers easier to remember and recognize. You are less likely to mistakenly discard a winning ticket. Which reminds me.
5. Don't immediately discard losing tickets.
Most progressive lotteries have an assortment of lesser prizes. Your ticket may have one of those. Likewise, mistakes happen. You misread the results. The results are reported incorrectly. Check your tickets and then check again the next day before discarding.
6. Hot and Cold numbers
In every jackpot there are hot and cold numbers. For whatever reason, (or no reason at all) these numbers are drawn at statistically significant higher or lower frequency than average. What you do with this information is up to you. Some players like to play hot numbers. Others prefer to play cold numbers, thinking that they are more likely because everything reverts to the mean. Lots of players simply don't care. But the process of how hot and cold numbers effect your picks can be fun.
7. Play regularly
It's common sense. The more often you play, the more likely you are to win. And while this strategy goes against only playing positive expectation games, it is far more fun to have a little wager and to collect small wins every so often. Besides, even the smallest jackpot is life changing money to most people.
8. Play the same numbers each time.
Once you have decided which numbers you are going to play. Play the same numbers every time. Of course, never play the same combo on the same ticket. Even if it is an infinitesimal amount, every time a specific combination of numbers is NOT selected, it SHOULD increase the chance of that combination being generated in the future. While this is not true of all number generation systems, and it only applies to very large sample sizes, it is yet another reason to pick numbers important to you and stick with them.
9. Pocket your winnings
If you are somehow lucky enough to buck the odds and win, Walk Away! The only truism about playing with house money is that the house will get their money back.
10. Expect to lose. And have fun.
When you are playing the lottery, I look at it as an entertainment cost. I'm paying an amount of money in exchange for some entertainment or distraction. If you are no longer having fun, it is time to take a break.