Wheeling is a popular strategy for some of the more seasoned lottery players. If you have ever experienced the frustration of buying several lottery tickets and not winning, only to realize that you actually had all the winning lottery numbers, just not on the. Powerball’s rules are a bit technical, but the gist is simple: If your ticket matches all six winning numbers in the order they’re drawn, you win the jackpot along with anyone else holding the same winning numbers in the same order.
- National Lottery Projects Since The National Lottery began in 1994 over 625,000 good causes have been supported with over £42 billion raised by players of The National Lottery (figures sourced from the Department for Culture, Media & Sport. – November 2020). Around £30 million raised weekly is an average based on April 2019 – March 2020.
- The Mississippi Lottery Corporation was established under the Alyce G. Clarke Mississippi Lottery Law, passed during the 2018 extraordinary session of the Mississippi State Legislature. Proceeds from the sale of each Mississippi Lottery ticket fund Mississippi's infrastructure and education.
Secrets of State Lottery Scratch-off Contracts
When most people think of advantage gambling, state lottery scratch-offs are the last thing that enters their minds.
Everyone’s heard of counting cards at blackjack. There are even several moviesabout it.
And poker has been shown to be a game of skill; just look at the repeat winners of major tournaments like the World Series of Poker and the World Poker Tour.
But most people still refer to the lottery as an “idiot tax”.
And scratch offs have a notoriously bad expected value (which you can think of as a gambling game’s return on investment).
To give you an example of how bad lottery tickets can be, most $1 scratch offs have an expected value of around 60%, meaning for every $1 you spend, you’re expected to get back just $0.60; a $0.40 loss.
Most penny slots have paybacks that are better than that.
And other gambling games, like blackjack, can approach 99% payback without any card counting at all.
I’m here to shed light on a new way of thinking about scratch-offs and show you how you can improve your odds. It won’t always be profitable.
But under the right circumstances, it can be. If you’re going to play regardless, you might as well maximize your chances of winning.
Here are my insights about how to win at scratch-offs. I’ve gained these insights by reading the contracts and procurement documents that state lottery organizations have with their ticket printers.
Combine these insights with sites that calculate a scratch-off ticket’s odds, and you’ll be playing like a sharp
Where Are Scratch-off Grand Prizes?
Grand prizes are not random.
I’m sure all of these insights will come as a surprise.
But this one is probably the biggest.
Surely the state wants to ensure a fair game.
How can it be fair if the biggest prizes of all aren’t even random?
Here’s an image of the procurement document that the Massachusett’s lottery used to elicit bids from ticket printers:
You’ll see that they require the grand prizes to be distributed evenly throughout the game.
Note that “distributed evenly throughout the game” is not random.
If the prizes were random, then they might all appear at the start of the game. Or they might all appear at the end of a game.
But the state doesn’t want that to happen. If all of the grand prizes were claimed at the start of the game, then people would stop playing the game because they would have no shot at the big money.
You can take advantage of this fact by figuring out how many tickets are in a “pool” where a grand prize should be. If there are 9,000,000 tickets and 3 grand prizes, then divide 9,000,000 by 3 to figure out that there must be 1 grand prize every 3,000,000 tickets.
Then, use the state’s lottery website to figure out how many tickets remain. Most states publish this information for each game.
In the example game just mentioned, if there were 7,000,000 tickets remaining and still 3 remaining grand prizes, then you know the first grand prize must be in the next 1,000,000 tickets. Your odds just improved from 1 in 3,000,000 to 1 in 1,000,000.
That may not seem like much, but it can mean the difference between negative and positive expected value.
Is There A Limit To The Number Of Big Winning Tickets In A Roll?
Here’s an image from documents filed as part of a Texas lawsuit against the state and the ticket printer:
In this contract that Texas has with IGT, there’s a clause that states that there can be no more than a certain number of $25-$50 winners per pack of tickets. There’s another clause that states there can be no more than one winner of $75 and higher per pack. (The “one” is redacted, but we can deduce that tit’s one by looking at the word following the redaction, which is “winner” rather than “winners”).
How can you use this to your advantage?
Play 4 lottery. Buy only one ticket from a pack at a time and scratch it right there at the store.
If it happens to be a big winner, don’t buy any more tickets from that pack.
What Is The Minimum Payback for a Roll of Scratch-off Tickets?
This next image is from the request for a proposal from the New Mexico lottery association to ticket printers:
It shows that each pack of tickets has some guaranteed payout. The details of the guaranteed payout aren’t specified, but from other contracts and personal experience, I’ve found it to typically be about 50% of the price of a pack of tickets. If an entire roll of tickets costs $600, then the GLEP is usually about $300.
What this means for the advantage player is that you should not stop buying after a string of losers.
Since each roll of tickets is guaranteed to have a certain minimum payout, then every loser you see increases the chance that the remaining tickets are winners.
While none of the above insights will guarantee you will win, they are just a few of the things you can do for yourself if you want to know how to beat scratch-offs.
Combine these insights with some expected value calculations from the remaining prizes that get displayed on the state lottery websites and you’ll be doing way better than the average lotto player.
About the Author
Eric Ihli, a professional gambler/programmer, spent 10 years as a full-time professional gambler and 5 years as a software engineer. He now combines those two passions by writing software to discover and evaluate profitable gambling opportunities.
Who wouldn’t want to know how to win scratch offs, right?
We all want to win the lottery!
Scratch off cards can be pretty frustrating. You think that you’re onto a winner and then you see the card is a loser.
So is there any way to increase your odds of winning scratch offs?
You’ll be glad to know that there are definitely things you can do to win.
InboxDollars: Paid over $57 Million to members to watch videos, take surveys, shop and more. Join InboxDollars Now and Get $5 Instantly!
Panda Research: Earn up to $50 per survey or offer completed. Join Panda Research Today!
Swagbucks: Get paid to watch videos, shop online, take surveys and more. Join Swagbucks Now & Get a $5 Instantly!
Smart App: Earn $15 a month just for installing their free app, plus loyalty bonus every three months! Join Smart App Now
Daily Goodie Box: Want free stuff? DGB will send you a box of free goodies (Free Shipping - No Credit Card). Get your box now!
Branded Surveys: This survey panel pays you $1 just for signing up today & they pay via PayPal within 48 hours! Join Branded Surveys
These are pretty simple things too! So whether you are a gamble often or just buy scratch offs or lottery tickets to hopefully hit the jackpot or win the Powerball, once in a while, you can use these tips.
In this post, I’ll give you a few tips to increase your odds of winning on every scratch off ticket you buy.
Tips to Increase Your Chances of Winning Scratch Cards
Here are a few not so “secrets” you can use to win money on your next lottery scratch card.
1. Don’t purchase the cheapest scratchers
There are so many scratch cards out there nowadays that it can be pretty confusing to know which ones to buy. You sort of feel overwhelmed by all of the choices!
There are so many different designs, prices, prizes and brands available that it can be hard to decide which ones to purchase.
Thankfully, there’s a really easy tip you can use to make sure you purchase the right ones:
Don’t buy the cheapest scratch cards.
It can be tempting to purchase the most affordable ones; after all, you can get more of them for your money.
But these cards are cheap for a reason – the prize pool is lower.
You’d be better off purchasing just a few of the more expensive cards, rather than lots of the cheap ones. It’s quality over quantity basically.
2. Buy them in bulk
While the expensive cards are better, buying in bulk is still a good idea because it increases your chances of winning.
A lot of people swear by purchasing scratch cards in bulk. Consider purchasing a few scratch cards from the same game in a single trip to the shop, rather than just buying one scratch card.
Your odds of winning may increase if you purchase in bulk. It’s like with the lottery; the more entries you have, the more chances you have to win.
If you get a bunch of scratch cards in one purchase, then the chance of hitting one of those winning scratch cards may be higher.
This is a pretty easy way to up your chances of winning, so you may want to consider it. Don’t just buy any card in bulk though. Follow the rest of the tips in our article and combine those with buying in bulk to maximize your winnings.
I’d only recommend purchasing in bulk if your budget allows it – talking of which…
3. Make sure you set yourself a budget
I cannot recommend anything more highly when it comes to playing scratch cards than setting a budget.
It’s so important for your financial health.
Just as important as actually setting the budget though, is sticking with it. Be strict with your budget.
While this doesn’t increase your chances of winning, it does keep you from losing too much money.
Set yourself a weekly or monthly budget and make sure that you stick with it.
4. Check the odds before you buy
Like I said before, the amount of scratch cards out there nowadays is crazy. There are so many to choose from.
So how do you know which ones have the best odds?
As I also said earlier, purchasing the more expensive cards is a good option.
But another simple tip is to purchase the cards with the best odds, because, well, these give you the best chance of winning!
It’s not tough to find them either.
The odds are actually printed on the back of every ticket!
Really. You can even ask the cashier at the store to tell you what the odds are on the back of the tickets before you buy them. Choose the games that have better odds, and you’ll increase your chances of winning.
5. Check your state’s website
The last thing you’d want to do is purchase a ton of cards for a game only to learn that the biggest prizes have already been claimed.
It’s completely legal to sell tickets for a scratch off game after all the top prizes have already been claimed.
That’s why I’d highly recommend checking to see if a game has had any prizes claimed before you make a purchase.
Lottery Ticket Strategy Smart
Some stores will post a flyer with the information, although sometimes this is weeks out of date.
The best way to make sure you’re not wasting your time on a game is to check with your state’s lottery website.
For example, I went on the Oregon state lottery website and viewed a scratch off game on there to see what prizes were left.
As you can see in the photo above, this Casino Gold game had two top prizes remaining. It lists the odds of winning too, which is handy!
To find your state lottery’s website, just open up Google, enter the term “[state name] lottery website,” and hit search.
I just entered the term “Oregon state lottery website,” for example.
If all of the top prizes for a game have been claimed, consider switching to a different one.
6. Keep your losing tickets
Keeping your losing tickets can be a good idea. This is because sometimes the manufacturer will run a second chance game where they ask for losing tickets to pick a best loser, so to speak.
Second chance drawings allow you to turn a non-winning ticket into another chance to win.
For example, at the time of writing, there were details of a second chance scratcher game on the Virginia state lottery website.
You could enter a non-winning ticket into the weekly eXTRA Chances drawing. The scratcher just had to have the eXTRA Chances logo on the front in order for it to be entered into the drawing. Prize themes change every month and, at the time, included gift cards, vacations, and concert tickets.
All you had to do was buy a scratcher with that logo and then if it was a losing ticket, you could either mail it to the Virginia Lottery or enter online with your non-winning ticket. Or you could use the app to enter the drawing.
Lots of states have second chance games like this.
So it’s worth checking with your state’s lottery website to see if there are any second chance games available.
Just as importantly though, keep hold of your losing tickets! You don’t have to spend any more cash, yet you get another chance to win.
7. Take in all of your losing tickets
Like I said above, you shouldn’t just throw out your losing cards and not only because of those second chance draws that I mentioned above.
No, another reason to not throw out a losing card is that it may not actually be a losing card.
There’s always a chance that you may have missed something on the ticket, which is why you should have your ticket officially checked.
You can have the computer at the retailer check the winnings to make sure that you haven’t missed anything. This way, you don’t throw away any winning cards!
It’s always worth doing, especially in games that have several different ways to win prizes because it can be easy to overlook winnings.
Get your ticket checked and you could win something!
Lottery Scratch Ticket Strategy
8. Try the “Singleton” method
Next on the list is a tip that was used in the past by a lot of experienced scratch card players.
It’s called the “Singleton Method.”
This method involves looking at the numbers that are visible on a card before you purchase it. Basically, you analyze the card to see if you can pick up on any patterns that can indicate whether a scratch card has certain numbers, symbols, or combinations that could lead to you winning.
Now, this method isn’t really as useful as it once was because when the manufacturer’s caught on to the fact that people were analyzing the cards this way, a large number of them designed future cards to work against this method.
Still though, there may be a few manufacturers who have not yet taken steps to address this method. So you could still use it on the type of scratch cards that have numbers visible on the side.
It’s definitely an interesting theory. If you would like to learn more about how the singleton method works, then check out this guide from Casino.org.
9. Avoid package promotions
Another really useful tip I have is to avoid those “Mystery Packs” or other package promotions. This is because these promotional packages are often just a way for retailers to clear out their old stock. So they repackage older cards and then sell them in discounted ticket packages.
At first glance, it can seem like you’re getting a good deal. Who wouldn’t want discounted scratch cards, right?
In reality though, these packages are comprised of games in which the top winnings have already been claimed. This leaves you with little, if any, opportunities to win prizes yourself. It’s always best to focus on active games where there are still top prizes left to be won. That way, you have a better chance of actually winning.
10. Play them like the slots
Okay, this tip will only work if you have a lot of time on your hands and don’t mind doing some detective work, so to speak.
You’ve probably seen those people who hang around the slots waiting for someone to lose before swooping in to take that slot machine.
There’s even a Friends episode about it where Phoebe gets lurked by an older lady who always swoops in and wins right after Phoebe leaves her seat after a losing streak.
There is some science behind this method. Although the house always wins, as they say, slots do have to pay out at some point. And if a slot machine hasn’t paid off for somebody in hours, it’s likely that it will pay off for the next person who comes along.
Surprisingly, you can apply this same method to scratch cards.
Long streaks of losses can mean that your odds are better if you swoop in with a well-timed purchase.
Lottery Ticket Buying Strategy
So, how does this work with scratch cards, you ask?
Well, it’s pretty simple. Just try talking to the cashier at the store to get some information on which games have paid out recently and which ones haven’t.
That way you can play the games that not many have won yet.
While this doesn’t guarantee that you will win, it may up your chances. After all, if someone earlier bought ten tickets and lost on them all, and you buy a few, there’s a better chance your tickets will win if those previous ones didn’t.
Similarly, if another game has had lots of winners, then you’ll know which ones have paid out already, and therefore, which ones to avoid.
So keep an eye on your competition.
While there’s no magic formula for winning scratch cards, there are plenty of things you can do to improve your odds and make sure that you don’t miss out on any opportunities to win!
Remember though that you should always stick to your budget. You want to keep your finances intact.
Give our tips on how to win scratch offs a try and let us know in the comments section below whether you have any tips of your own!