How to Win the Lottery – How to Reduce the Expected Value of Losing a Lottery Ticket

If the entertainment value of lottery play is high enough for an individual, then the disutility of losing money on a ticket might be outweighed by the non-monetary benefits. But a savvy consumer can reduce the negative expected value by studying the probability distribution and finding the patterns that give certain numbers an advantage over others.

Look at the numbers on the outside of a lottery ticket and chart how many times each number repeats. A pattern that shows up a lot is called a singleton. Pay special attention to the numbers that appear as the first, fifth, and seventh digits. These are the ones that are more likely to be drawn. Look for combinations of numbers that are repeated a lot and also for groups that are not repeated.

Some people buy a large amount of tickets, trying to increase their chances of winning by playing more often. The risk is that they will spend all their money and have nothing left over for necessities. Others play in a syndicate, splitting up small amounts of money and buying a lot of tickets. This makes their chances of winning higher, but their payout each time is smaller.

The biggest reason lottery games are successful is that they promise instant wealth. They dangle this carrot in front of us all the time with billboards that advertise the size of the jackpot and the fact that you can win without ever having to work for it. This creates a strong sense of envy and an inextricable desire to participate.