For some people, playing the lottery is a serious business. They spend hours researching the winning combinations to find a pattern or algorithms that will help them score the next jackpot—or at least improve their odds. The internet is littered with advice on beating the system, but be careful what you read.
Lotteries are made to be random, but here are some common sense rules you can apply the next time you buy a ticket.
1. Know the rules of the game
To stand a chance at winning the main prize, you should familiarise yourself with the rules. With the Powerball lottery you need to choose five numbers from a field of 1 to 69 and one number from a range of 1 – 26.
Last year Powerball changed the range of numbers you can choose from for its red and white balls. So if you haven’t played for a while, keep these changes in mind as you fill out your ticket. You wouldn’t want to miss out on the chance of winning one of those big jackpots just because you didn’t understand the rules.
2. Mix it up a little
Look carefully at the numbers you’re playing. Are the all odd numbers, all even numbers or a mix of the two? Numbers that are exclusively odd or even only show up in a winning combination about 4% of the time. So it makes sense to watch what you pick and spread your numbers out of a mix of odd and even. Aim for two odd numbers and two even numbers or the other way around.
3. Find some balance
Once you’ve picked your five numbers, add them together and see what you get. If the total falls between 130 and 221—that’s a good sign. It means that your selection is balanced and you’ll be pleased to know that a balanced selection has a better chance of winning.
In fact, tickets with a balanced selection tend to win almost 70% of the time. So don’t forget to apply this rule to your Powerball strategy.
4. Repeat a winning number
You may be surprised to learn that 38% of time, at least one winning number from the previous draw will show up in the next one. So try and keep up with the draw results as they happen. If you play regularly this could help you to increase your chances of winning every time you play.
5. Include a mix of high and low numbers
Take the numbers from 1 to 69 and split them into two groups. One group with low numbers from 1 to 34 and another group of high numbers from 35 – 69. Now pick two numbers from the low group and three from the high group. Or, do the reverse and pick three numbers from the low group and two from the high group.
This way, you have an even spread of numbers. This is a pattern which shows up in 64% of the winning combinations. That should be reason enough to add this tip to your Powerball playing arsenal.
6. Don’t play combinations that have already won
Your chances of hitting a jackpot may be slim, but you don’t need to make them worse by playing a combination has won in the past. You’ll need to do a little research here, but it’s worth it if it improves your chances of winning. Just look through the history of previous winning combinations and make sure you aren’t playing the exact same set.
A combination only has a chance of winning once every 2 809 628 years! So improve your chances by making sure that your selection hasn’t already been lucky for someone else.
7. Skip the low number combinations
How do you choose your Powerball numbers? If you’re anything like most people you’ll select a date that has special significance to you. Something like your mother’s birthday or your anniversary. But the problem with that method is that most dates don’t go beyond the number 31. This means that you’re effectively ignoring more than half the numbers you have to choose from.
If you see tip number 3 above, you’ll understand how this could prevent you from playing a balanced game. On top of that, this is a popular method of choosing numbers for many people. So you could end up splitting your prize money with a few other people who also have an anniversary on the date you picked to play.
8. Avoid numbers with the same last digits
You might not even be aware that you’re doing it. But before you hand that ticket over, make sure that the numbers you’ve marked don’t all have the same last digit. Even if you believe that seven is your lucky number and you like to play the numbers 7, 17, 27, 37 and 47 just for luck—it’s a bad idea.
Even having just 4 numbers with the same last digits comes up in less than two-tenths of one percent of Powerball lottery draws. Even if you’re numbers are balanced and a good combination of odds and evens, continuing to select your numbers like this will only sink your chances of winning a big jackpot.
9. Don’t bet on consecutive numbers
With its large number field, winning a Powerball lottery with consecutive numbers is almost impossible. And yet people tend to believe that it must happen at some point. While it exists as a mathematical probability—it’s not worth wasting your ticket on.
10. Study the data
The idea that a game of chance can change your life forever is a romantic one, and probably the reason why so many people buy their Powerball tickets every week. But if you’re really serious about getting your hands on that jackpot, you’ll need to put some serious thought into how you chose your numbers.
And that’s everything you need to know about improving your chances of being a Powerball winner. You don’t have to have a degree in mathematics to unlock the secret of a winning combination. Just apply a little common sense when you fill out your ticket, and always keep a winning attitude.