Everyone has dreamt about what they would do with the money if they won the lottery. With lottery numbers reaching record highs, it is a popular topic. However, is there really a “smart” way to play the Power Ball? Is it just a waste of money? Should you be picking your own numbers or let the computer pick them? There is a “science” to winning the Power Ball. Here’s a few tips.

## You Have to Play to Win, But…

Obviously, you can’t win the Power Ball without playing, however, spending money on it every week (many people do) isn’t always the best way to raise your chances at winning. The chance of hitting the lottery is low, but as the jackpot grows larger, more people play, and there is higher chance of a winner being declared.

## Let the Computer Pick the Numbers

Many people like to play “special” numbers like birthdays, anniversaries and even lucky numbers. However, this isn’t always helpful. Most jackpot winners (70 percent of winners) have allowed the computer to pick their numbers for them. Does this mean you’re more likely to win with automated numbers? Possibly. There is a loophole though.

If you play the lottery regularly and have set numbers that you usually play, stick to those set of numbers. However, if you play those numbers all the time, you should stick to the same numbers (in the same combination). Doing this heightens your chance of winning. “Never ever, ever change those numbers,” said Richard Lustig, a lottery expert. Lustig has won seven lottery grand prizes in his lifetime, so you could say he has a few theories where the lottery is concerned.

When it comes to people who only play the lottery every once and a while (when the jackpot is large), there is less of a science to it. Lustig simply said, “Buy as many tickets as you can afford.”

## Is There a Science to ‘Luck?’

If you pick your own numbers, you may want to include the numbers 8, 54, 14, 39 and 13. Past winning Power Ball tickets have included these numbers pretty frequently. There also seems to be lucky places to buy the tickets. Sixteen of the previous winners bought their tickets in Pennsylvania.

The odds of winning, of course, are slim either way. Those who buy a ticket have a 1 in 292,201,338 shot of winning the grand prize. Your chances of winning a seven-figure (a million or more) payout are a little bit better: 1 in 11,688,053.

## Is it Worth It?

The question as to whether the Power Ball is worth it or not is really dependent on a few factors. Do you have “extra money” to play? Would that money be better off spent elsewhere? Is gambling something you do for fun (the Power Ball once a week is how any people get their gambling fix)? Are you going into debt (or going broke) playing the lottery? Your answers to these questions can determine whether you should play or not.

Either way, everyone can still dream of what they would do if they won the big money. Even though the chances aren’t very high, and sometimes it is a complete waste of time (and money), the Power Ball can be exciting. Just think – what would you do with the winnings?

Alexa Mason says

How I wish it was that easy.

Bob says

Could you please explain the math behind the following phrase in your article:

“The chance of hitting the lottery is low, but as the jackpot grows larger (more people are playing), there is a higher chance of hitting.”

How does the math work for your statement. I agree, there is a higher chance of someone hitting the jackpot, as there are more players. However, how does the number of players have any effect on the chances of you, an individual player?

Please, if you don’t mind, explain what you mean. I don’t think the math works out the way you are saying it does.

Amanda Stewart says

Bob, great question! We will go back and alter the wording here. There is a higher chance of people hitting the jackpot BECAUSE there are more players, more numbers and more tickets in circulation.

Bob says

For example,

If I play a game with 1 in 10 chances to win, I expect to win 1 out of every 10 games I play.

If 1 friend joins me and plays the same game, YES, there will be more “winners.” Now we expect a winner every 5 games. Half the time it will be me, and half the time it will be my friend. However, I can only expect to win 1 game out of every 10 played. My friend will win the other game out of every 10, so 2 out of 10 games played will be won.

Bob says

Ma’am,

I am sorry, but I see the correction and I am still confused. The new sentence (and the same one before it) reads: “Actually, people who rarely play and only play when the jackpot is larger have a higher probability of winning. The chance of hitting the lottery is low, but as the jackpot grows larger, more people play, and you have a higher chance of winning.”

How does the number of people playing have an effect on an individual’s chances? If more people play, there is a larger chance that a winner will be declared. However, how does that affect the individual, the “you” in the sentence of the article.

Thank you!

Bob says

For example,

If I play a game with 1 in 10 chances to win, I expect to win 1 out of every 10 games I play.

If 1 friend joins me and plays the same game, YES, there will be more “winners.” Now we expect a winner every 5 games. However, I can only expect to win 1 game out of every 10 played. My friend will win the other game out of every 10, so 2 out of 10 games played.

Petunia 100 says

Instead of “science”, let’s try math. 🙂

The probability of winning the lottery is based on how many numbers are possible, how many numbers are drawn, and how many numbers must be matched.

For example, if there are 73 numbers and 6 must be matched, then the odds of winning are calculated this way:

Matching the first number is a 1 of out 73 chance

Matching the second number is a 1 out of 72 chance

Matching the third number is a 1 of out 71 chance

Matching the fourth number is a 1 out of 70 chance

Matching the fifth number is a 1 of out 69 chance

Matching the sixth number is a 1 out of 68 chance

73 x 72 x 71 x 70 x 69 x 68 = 122,565,925,440

So there is 1 chance in 122,565,925,440 that a player with one set of numbers will match all six. This is true no matter how many tickets are sold. If you buy a second ticket, then your odds become a 2 in 122,565,925,440 chance, or (stated correctly) a 1 in 61,282,962,720 chance.

No number has a greater chance of being drawn than any other number.

As time passes, every number should be drawn an equal number of times. Therefore, I would avoid numbers 8, 54, 14, 39 and 13. Reversion to the mean is more likely than not, so we would expect those particular numbers to come up less often than other numbers going forward.

Doug says

The winning numbers 1,2,3,4,5,6 are just as likely as any particular combination.

So “scientifically” you’re just as likely to win playing those numbers as any other.

Are you going to do it?

The lottery is a tax on people who can’t do math. You have a 1 in 960,000 chance of being the person struck by lightning. If you really think you’re more likely to win the lottery than be struck by lightning 120 times, you deserve to lose your money.