Are you interested in playing the lotto? Or, the question that must instead be asked and answered is whether you are interested in increasing your odds of winning when you do play the lotto.
How do you increase your odds of winning and reduce the risk of losing?
Succinctly stated, you join a group play or an online lottery syndicate.
By way of expanding on this answer, let’s consider the following points.
What is an online lottery syndicate or group play?
Lottery syndicate or group play
A lottery syndicate is a “group of individuals who join together to play the lottery.” This group of people banding together to play the lottery is also known as a group play.
The group of individuals share in the lotto ticket purchase price, and they share in the wins.
Why join a group play?
By combining your money and buying as many tickets as possible together, you increase your odds of winning the lotto.UK statistics show that "1 in 5 of top game prizes across Lotto, EuroMillions, and EuroMillions UK Millionaire Maker are won by syndicates."
The second most crucial point to note about joining a group play is that it saves money. You can fill our more boards for the same daily, weekly, or monthly spend. Sure, you will have to share the winnings with the other players in your group play. But you can also choose how many people you wish to include in your syndicate. And this will be the maximum number of players who will share in the winnings.
This point will be discussed further down in this discussion. However, what is important to note at this juncture is that, because the lottery is fundamentally a game of chance, both sides of each game, the player and the house, are random.
On the one hand, the house uses a Random Number Generator (RNG) to determine the winning numbers (as explained later).
On the other side, the player's side, the numbers are also randomly generated, either manually or by the Quick Pick function. Therefore, in summary, the way to increase your odds of winning is to reduce the one side's randomness, and the best way to do this is to join a group play to reduce both the cost of each game and to take as many numbers as allowed and as the syndicate can afford per game.
How to join a lottery syndicate game or group play
The next question that must be asked and deserves a considered answer is, how do you join a group play?
By way of answering this question, let’s take Powerball as an example and walk through the step-by-step process together:
- Choose a lotto game.
- Pick five or more numbers from a guess range of 1 - 69, either manually or use the Quick Pick option.
- Pick one or two bonus numbers from the guess range of 1 – 26 or use the Quick Pick facility.
- This group play is only valid for one draw.
- Type in a name for your game in the box provided.
- Choose the number of players/shares.
- Click on the <PLAY NOW> button which will add the game to the online shopping cart.
- Complete the checkout process and wait for the online lotto results.
The probability of winning: The optimal number of combinations
As described briefly above, the best way to increase your odds of winning is to reduce the random element on one side of the lotto game. In other words, it is essential to reduce the “luck” element when playing a lottery game like Powerball.
1. How to play Powerball
How do you increase the odds of winning when playing Powerball?
This question is valid and deserves a considered answer. In order to build a solid foundation from which to analyze the art and science of probabilities, let’s first look at a brief summary of how a Powerball game is structured.
In summary, each Powerball game or draw consists of two sides: the house and the player (or syndicate of players).
The player (you) selects at least six numbers on a board (5 main numbers and a bonus number). However, looking at the group play quick pick options, you can select up to 12 main numbers on the one board with two bonus numbers. Once you have selected and paid for your numbers, the next step is to wait for the draw date to see how much you have won. When the draw date arrives, the lottery company uses two drums to draw the numbers randomly. The first drum draws the five standard numbers, and the second drum draws Powerball or bonus numbers.
Have you ever wondered why Powerball uses two drums?
The concise answer to this question is that the two drums' original purpose was to offer more manipulation opportunities by simultaneously allowing high jackpot odds, numerous prize levels, and low overall winning odds. The player can win with anything from one to six correct numbers. The jackpot is only paid out when the player correctly selected all six numbers: the five main numbers and the bonus or Powerball number.
In fact, Powerball was the first lottery game to use two drums when drawing the winning number combinations.
This statement leads us to the concept of the house’s edge. And while a lengthy description of the house’s edge is not part of this discussion, it is worth noting that the company that runs the Powerball lottery is in business to make money.
Thus, there is a form of tension between the house and the player. The player must increase their chances of winning, and the house must increase its chance of not paying out any winnings to successful players.
The house relies on the randomness aspect of the game, while the player implements strategies described below the increase their probability of winning.
2. The Random Number Generator: What, why, how?
No comprehensive discussion on any lottery game or game of chance would be complete without a brief look at the function of the Random Number Generator (RNG).
As described above, the RNG is what selects the Powerball winning numbers. Even though the customer-facing side of the equipment, containing the two drums, looks as though the spinning drums choose the numbers, it is actually the RNG that selects the numbers and “tells” the drums what numbers to spit out.
According to howtogeek.com, “random numbers have been used for many thousands of years.” These numbers are useful for multiple purposes, including selecting the outcomes of a game of chance. In summary, they are designed as “an attempt to achieve an unpredictable, random result.”
There are two types of modern RNGs: the mechanical or true RNG that powers the slot games in a land-based casino, and the pseudo-RNG that is computer-based and is used for online casino games and lottery draws. Both of these RGN’s are designed to generate numbers by using an algorithm. The difference is found in the starting point or the seed number. The true RNG uses an outside source in the physical environment that cannot be controlled and is continually changing. This form of randomness cannot be modeled because the external source is ever-changing.
Juxtapositionally, the pseudo-RNG uses a deterministic algorithm to generate random numbers. In summary, this algorithm can be modeled, and the numbers predicted and reproduced if the algorithm’s state is known.
3. Calculating the winning combinations
As described multiple times above, the way to increase the probability of winning at lottery games is to reduce the randomness aspect on one side of the equation by stabilizing either the player’s side or the house’s side. The reason why this point is mentioned several times is that it is the salient point of any discussion of increasing your chance of winning when playing games of chance like the Powerball lottery game.
You cannot do anything about the house’s side; therefore, only the player’s side is left.
Consequently, you can use probability calculations plus joining a lottery syndicate or group play to improve your odds of winning when playing Powerball games.
As highlighted above, the definition of a lottery syndicate or group game is a group of individuals or at least two people who have jointly bought a ticket for a single lottery draw, sharing in the costs and the wins.
Let’s consider the different probabilities of winning if you a varied selection of numbers for each game that you play.
The standard 5 number selection only gives you one combination of numbers that could win when looking at how to achieve the Powerball results you want. The stated odds of winning the Powerball jackpot with one calculation is circa 1 in 292 million. And the odds of achieving second place with all five winning numbers is one in 11 688 053. On the other end of the scale, the odds of getting one number plus the Powerball number correct is 1 in 92. Finally, the odds of getting the bonus number correct without any of the main number correct is 1 in 38.
As you can see from the numbers quoted above, the probability of winning is not very high when with a select of five numbers and one bonus number. The more numbers, or lines you play, the greater your chance of winning.
Therefore, let’s consider a probability calculation to describe what your odds are winning are.
5. The game rules
At the outset of this calc, it is essential to make sure that you are aware of the rules before you sign up for a Powerball draw because you will calculate the probability of winning based on these rules. Therefore, aspects like the following matter:
- In order to win the jackpot, all five main numbers that you have selected must match the five numbers drawn during the weekly, bi-weekly, or fortnightly draw. Plus, you must pick the correct bonus ball.
- The five main balls are chosen from a guess pool of 1 – 69.
- The bonus ball is selected from a guess pool of 1 – 26.
- The order of the five winning numbers does not matter.
- The winning bonus number can only be matched to the bonus numbers on your ticket.
- A winning ticket (not the jackpot) can have between one and five correct numbers.
- Once a number has been drawn once, it cannot be drawn again.
6. Permutations and combinations
In summary, permutations and combinations are sets of numbers (elements) that are arranged in a sequence or linear order.
The fundamental difference between these two concepts is as follows:
A permutation is a set of numbers that are in a fixed order, and the winning numbers are selected from this set in the fixed order. Ergo, the order of this set of numbers matters.
On the other hand, a combination is a set of numbers whose order is consistently changing. When the winning numbers are selected from a combination of numbers, the order does not matter.
Here is a simple example to describe the difference between a combination and a permutation: The guess set of numbers is (1, 2, 3, 4, 5… 65, 66, 67, 68, 69).
You select the following five numbers: 21, 3, 5, 50, 55.
The winning numbers selected by the RNG are: 3, 5, 30, 21, 54
If we assume that the set of winning numbers is a permutation of numbers (3, 5, 30, 21, 54).
Your permutation of winning numbers is (21, 3, 5, 50, 55).
If we accept the rule that any number of correct numbers equals a winning ticket, using the permutation definition, two out of the five numbers are winning numbers (3, 5).
Juxtapositionally, a combination is a set of numbers that have a consistently changing order. Therefore, the only thing that matters in this scenario is how many of the sets of winning numbers have you selected. Their order of selection does not matter.
Therefore, you have selected three out of the set of five winning numbers: (3, 5, 21).
7. Using combinations to calculate the probability of winning the next Powerball draw
Let’s assume that you have selected 6 main numbers with 1 bonus ball.
This gives you 6 different combinations. The simplest version of the probability formula is as follow: The probability of winning the jackpot = 1 divided by every possible combination – 1.
P = 1 / all possible combinations – 1
The calculated probability of winning any prize in the US Powerball (as an example) is calculated as 0.0402162320744297 as published by lotterycodex.com.
The probability of losing is calculated as follows: P(losing) = 1 – P(winning)
P (losing) = 1 - 0.0402162320744297 = 0.95978376792557.
In other words, statistically speaking, out of every 100 Powerball tickets you buy, you stand to lose about 96 of them. Before you run away and give up on the idea of playing the lottery, you hold several keys in your hand:
- The power of randomness.
- Buying into a lottery syndicate.
As described above, a group buy or syndicate allows you to choose a more powerful combination of numbers; thereby, reducing the risk of losing. For example, the standard 5 number combination plus 1 bonus number in the 5/69 plus 1 ball only allows one combination of numbers. On the other hand, a combination of 12 numbers plus 1 bonus ball translates into 792 combinations. Selecting this combination increases your odds of winning substantially.
Randomness is both a curse and a blessing. Mathematically speaking, it is a useful tool when used to calculate the actual probability of winning the jackpot. However, when both sides are random, the odds of winning actually drop.
The following scenario describes the mathematical value in the power of randomness when playing the lotto.
All numbers are equal and have an equal probability. There are no hot or cold numbers. It might look as though specific numbers are drawn more often than other numbers. However, if you look at all the winning combinations over time, you’ll see that the number of times each specific number is drawn evens out that every number is drawn an equal number of times.
The salient point here is that while all numbers have an equal probability, there are differences in the chosen combinations. This is best described by looking at combinatorial patterns.
Two of the more common combinatorial patterns are:
- 3 odd numbers and 3 even numbers in a pattern.
- 6 even numbers in a pattern.
These patterns include the bonus number.
If you choose to select 12 numbers, then you’ll multiply both of these patterns by 2 to get the 12 numbers. The Powerball number is not included in this calculation. But based on the patterns, you can continue with the patterns and select the next number in the permutation.
Without going into the actual calculations, the probability of the 3 odd and 3 even pattern winning is 0.33289. The estimated frequency in the number of draws out of 100 is 33.3 or 333 times for every thousand draws.
The probability of the 6 even numbers pattern winning is 0.0096. And the estimated frequency in the number of draws out of 100 is 0.9 or 9 times for every thousand draws.
The difference between the probabilities of these two patterns is put down to variance or randomness.
There are many different ways to calculate the probability of winning and to increase your odds of winning when playing the Powerball lottery. And they can be summed up in the following sentences: you do not have control over the probability of winning. However, you have control over the odds of winning by choosing a combination of numbers, such as the three even three odd combinatorial patterns.
And finally, joining a group play or syndicate is mandatory if you are serious about winning. The greater the number of combinations you play for one draw, the greater the chance of winning the jackpot.