6 Ways of Improving Your Lottery Odds

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By Mikey Rox

A retirement or savings plan based on winning the lottery isn't actually a plan -- it's a wish. There are much smarter things to do with your hard earned cash. We all know this. Yet many of us still buy numbers and scratchers, for the thrill, for the dream. If you just can't resist, take a moment to slightly improve your odds. Just promise that if you win with any of these lottery hacks, you'll share your winnings with me. It's only fair.

1. Pick your own numbers. Richard Lustig, seven-time lottery winner whose total earnings amount to more than $1 million, claims that one foolproof way to increase your chances of cashing in is to pick your own numbers rather than allowing the system do a quick pick for you. In an interview with CBS News a couple years ago, he said, "The lazy way out is to buy quick-picks. The computer picks out the numbers. Don't play quick-picks. Quick-picks are the worst thing you can do, you are playing with the worst odds."

Instead, choose your numbers, research them to make sure they're a good set of numbers, and stick with them. But how do you know if they're 'good' numbers? By buying his book, "Learn How to Increase Your Chance of Winning the Lottery," of course. On second thought ...

2. Stick to a regular set of numbers. Once you've found a set of 'good' numbers as determined by your research, stick to them -- and then play consistently.

"Obviously playing regularly will boost your chances. There is no worse feeling than seeing your winning numbers on the week you forgot to buy your ticket!" suggests MSN Money.

3. Buy more tickets, even if you have to split it. Sometimes increasing the number of tickets you purchase is cost prohibitive. In those cases, especially when massive jackpots are at stake, it may make sense to go in on a large number of tickets with a group of people, like friends, family or co-workers. Office lottery pools are quite common when lotteries reach their peak jackpots, and it's not unusual to hear about a group of coworkers winning the jackpot and thus splitting the windfall.

4. Check your numbers religiously. How's this for a sobering statistic: About $2 billion in lottery prizes go unclaimed every year, according to CNN Money. This could be for several reasons, like players have lost their winning tickets, but most of the unclaimed money is a result of winners not checking their tickets or realizing they have a winning ticket. To avoid becoming a statistic, keep your tickets in a safe place and take them to your local lottery scanner regularly.

5. Use the Singleton Method to win more scratch-offs. According to WikiHow, a quirk in the production of scratch-off tickets can double your chances of winning, if exploited correctly. The Singleton Method, in short, is an exercise in probability by finding sets of single numbers that only appear once on a scratch card, particularly in "match style" or" tic-tac-toe" games, in which you need three numbers in row to win. By studying this method, you can essentially eliminate those that don't fall under the winning category of the Singleton Method, and increase your chances of winning 60 to 90 percent.

6. Use your math skills to increase your chances at powerball games. WikiHow also details how to increase your odds of winning Powerball games, but you'll need to tap into your math skills (or at least a calculator) to make a go of it. Steps include finding the expected value of the game, determining the probability of each possible "win," multiplying that probability by the payout for that win, buying tickets that increase the expected value, and looking for progressive jackpots. There's also a mention of considering the tax implications of a Powerball win, which, incidentally, can be applied to all lottery wins above $10,000.

Do you have other tips on how to increase your chances of winning the lottery? Let me know in the comments below.
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