Lottery Strategies

The strategies you'll read about in this section are based on mathematics or logic. They are commonly referred to as reality-based systems. By learning such techniques as tracking, wheeling and pooling, you may be able to improve your odds.

Proponents of these methods are well aware of the odds they are dealing with. They know, for instance, that in Florida's Lotto (6/53) there are 22,957,480 possible combinations for the 53 numbers. That's just another way of saying if you buy one play, the odds are 22,957,480 to one of winning. But the odds are much better in the Little Lottos or the Dailies. Consequently, these "realists" often avoid the games with larger payoffs -- and with similarly larger odds.

When they do play the big games, these players -- realizing what they're up against -- do everything they possibly can to better their chances. And just what might that be? Most people who specialize in lottery-number selection methods and strategies and repeat winners agree that the following three methods -- tracking, wheeling and pooling -- are musts for serious players.

Tracking
This popular system is often referred to as frequency analysis. In short, it involves keeping track of the individual numbers that are drawn over a period of time. You might compare it to handicapping a racehorse; rating his past performance to determine what his chances of winning are in the future.

Numbers that appear often in a certain game are called hot numbers. Some players will play these hot numbers exclusively on the assumption that since they have appeared often in the past, they should appear again in the future. But it's not as simple as that. Other players believe such numbers may be on their way out. Thus, they track the cold numbers -- the overdue ones that haven't hit yet. Most specialists, however, play a combination of these hot and cold numbers. Some people even play a combination of hot, cold, and personal numbers, such as birth dates. And in spite of the appearance of trends in a game, most lottery organizers go to great lengths to make sure the numbers drawn are truly random -- so patterns are likely coincidences.

Experts have a wide variety of opinions on tracking methods, so there's no exact formula for tracking. Once you understand the idea of frequency analysis, you can develop your own tracking formula. The winner of the very first Lotto Texas jackpot--over $21 million -- was a tracker. Janie Kallus of Schulenburg, Texas, was forced to use a rather unique method. Since there had been very few Texas numbers to track in the short history of the Texas Lotto, she tracked numbers from other states' drawings. It's easy to find lists of previous winning numbers. Most states' Web sites list them. Also, on the Web you'll find specialty publications that list them, often including charts, diagrams, and forecasting graphs.

Wheeling
This frustrating experience may have happened to you: You buy several tickets and discover that you picked all six winning numbers; unfortunately, they weren't all on the same play. Experts claim that wheeling can help lock in all your favorite numbers and dramatically increase your odds of winning.

Wheeling isn't a system of selecting numbers, but a strategy for using all the numbers you have (however you obtained them). Wheeling consists of making up a master list of your best picks, then, using a coded system, playing them in different combinations in a sort of round-robin. Some wheels even carry specific win guarantees. That is, if the numbers on your master list include all the winning numbers--or some of them, such as four out of six -- you are guaranteed to win a certain prize. None of them, of course, can guarantee you a jackpot.

As you might suspect, wheeling can involve some expense. Before beginning to wheel, first set up a budget and stick to it. Then determine how many numbers will go on your master list. You can buy your wheels from specialists. They sell wheel blanks with various designs -- grids, graphs, circles, triangles -- and with different types of coding, such as alphabetical. These wheel blanks provide various coded combinations for a number of plays; you simply fill in the blanks with your chosen numbers. Full wheels cover all possible combinations of your master-list numbers, while short wheels cover only some combinations.

You can also make the wheels yourself. If you favor certain numbers on your master list over some of the others, arrange your wheel so that those numbers are played more times. If you feel equally good about all your numbers, choose a wheel that uses each number the same amount of times. Here are two sample wheel blank systems, starting with a 10-number wheel:

 Master List: A B C D E F G H I J

Play #1
A
B
C
D
E
F
Play #2
A
B
F
G
H
I
Play #3
A
C
E
H
I
J
Play #4
B
C
E
F
G
H
Play #5
B
D
F
H
I
J
Play #6
C
D
F
G
I
J
Play #7
A D
E
G
H
J

Here is an eight-number wheel:

 Master List: A B C D E F G H

Play #1
A
B
C
E
G
H
Play #2
A
B
D
F
G
H
Play #3
B
C
D
E
F
G
Play #4
A
C
D
E
F
H

For the ten-number wheel, let's say you're playing a 6/49 Lotto, and you've chosen ten numbers you like: 2, 3, 8, 16, 18, 27, 31, 38, 40, and 44. Each of the seven lines represents one play. Now, beneath each letter, place the number from the master list that corresponds to it. Here's what the ten-number wheel will look like when you've finished:

Master List:
A
B
C
D
E
F
G
H
I
J
  2 3
8
16
18
27
31
38
40
44

 Play #1
A
B
C
D
E
F
  2
3
8
16
18
27
Play #2
A
B
F
G
H
I
  2
3
27
31
38
40
Play #3
A
C
E
H
I
J
  2
8
18
38
40
44
Play #4
B
C
E
F
G
H
  3
8
18
27
31
38
Play #5
B
D
F
H
I
J
  3
16
27
38
40
44
Play #6
C
D
F
G
I
J
  8
16
27
31
40
44
Play #7
A
D
E
G
H
J
  2
16
18
31
38
44

Let's assume the winning numbers will be 3, 16, 18, 27, 40, and 44. As you can see, had you used this wheel and invested $7 ($1 for each play), you'd have won the following prizes:

Play #1: 4/6
Play #2: 3/6
Play #3: 3/6
Play #4: 3/6
Play #5: 5/6
Play #6: 4/6
  Play #7: 3/6
 

For the eight-number wheel, let's say you're playing a 6/49 Lotto, and you've chosen eight numbers you like: 1, 6, 11, 14, 20, 21, 30, and 43. Place your lucky numbers below the letters on the master list. Each of the four lines represents one play. Now beneath each letter, place the number from the master list that corresponds to it. Here's what the eight-number wheel will look like when you're finished:

 Master List:
A
B
C
D
E
F
G
H
  1
6
11
14
20
21
30
43

Play #1
A
B
C
E
G
H
  1
6
11
20
30
43
Play #2
A
B
D
F
G
H
  1
6
14
21
30
43
Play #3
B
C
D
E
F
G
  6
11
14
20
21
30
Play #4
A
C
D
E
F
H
  1
11
14
20
21
43

This time, let's assume the winning numbers will be 1, 6, 14, 20, 30, and 43. As you can see, had you used this wheel and invested $4 ($1 for each play), you'd have won the following prizes:

Play #1: 5/6
Play #3: 4/6
Play #2: 5/6
Play #4: 4/6

Special wheels are also available for the other lottery games, including the Pick 3 and Pick 4. Keep in mind that the dramatic results shown on these two wheels are only possible if the numbers on your master list include all the winning numbers.

Pooling
Pooling your money -- or joining a lottery club -- is a strategy for stretching your resources or getting "more bang for your buck." When you join a lottery club, you pool your money together with a number of other players, increasing the amount of tickets you can buy as well as your chances of winning. Of course, there are drawbacks. The primary drawback is that you must split any winnings with the other members. Here are some things you should know before joining a pool:
  • Join only with people you trust, such as family and friends.

  • If you do join a commercially run pool, make sure it is operated by trustworthy and reputable professionals.

  • A private pool should have 15 members or less.

  • A larger, commercially operated pool should have no more than 100 members.

  • Ask for the club rules -- in writing--before joining.

  • Certain aspects should be clear from the beginning, such as who will keep the tickets in their possession, the exact procedure that will be followed in case of a win, and how the numbers will be obtained.
Special Software
You'll find numerous advertisements for computer software programs inside gambling-oriented publications. These can be expensive, so you'd be well advised to check out the reputation of the person or company advertising the product. They offer databases, astrology-based systems, and methods for selecting the best numbers for wheeling. Random number generators are also available; this is like having your own, personal Quick Pick machine.

More Methods
Avid lottery fans also use a host of other number-based methods. Here are a few:
  • Odd/Even Analysis, which is where you determine the frequency of odd or even numbers.

  • Pairs/Doubles Analysis, which is determining the frequency of certain numbers appearing together.

  • Pick 3 and Pick 4 positions, such as in which position--first, second, or third--the digit 5 most frequently hits.

  • Sector Analysis, which is tracking how frequently numbers in the low sector hit, how many in the midrange sector hit, and how many in the higher range hit. For instance, if you're playing a 6/49 Lotto and believe the numbers will be midrange, you might choose 18, 20, 21, 23, 26, and 32.
Other, more exotic methods include using bell curves and computer algorithms to recognize number patterns. There's even a theory called the "Paint Factor." This assumes that the more paint covering the surface of the ball, the more slippery it is, making it more likely to slide out of the machine. An 8, for instance, will have more paint than a 1 or a 3, and double-digit numbers will have even more. It seems that not a single mathematical, statistical, or physical aspect is overlooked when it comes to people's attempts to win Lotto.

Now that you know the Lottery games and several strategies, we'll finish this article on the next page by offering some basic lottery tips. We'll even tell you what to do if -- brace yourself -- you win.