Lottery Odds and Lottery Pools

By Ben Hamill - September 29 2015

Everyone has a different type of relationship with the lottery. Some people just buy a ticket every once in awhile and hope for the best. For them, it’s a lark, though they dream of winning. For others, the lottery is serious business. They purchase multiple tickets on a regular basis and generally make back enough to cover their ticket purchases while they hope to hit the “big one.”

Regardless of how you play the lottery, it’s a good idea to maximize your lottery activities. The best way to do that is to check the odds of the different games. You don’t have to be a mathematician to do that — just review what mathematicians have already figured out and proceed to play the games that give you the best chance of achieving the best results.

6/49 Lottery

The Canadian 6/49 lottery is one of the most popular lotteries in Canada. The odds of winning the 6/49 are approximately one in 32. If you’re aiming for the jackpot and you buy a single ticket, you odds are reduced a bit, to one in 14,000,000. It can, and does, happen — people do win! But think about how to “invest” your money to get the most on your investment before you plop down your money.

The 6/49 odds are due to the fact that there are almost endless ways that you have to select the correct six out of 49 numbers. Even if you play according to a “system,” the numbers are all equally random. Lotto 6/49 tickets have 14 million possible combinations, so you have the chance to win once every 14,000,000 times. The odds don’t change, even when ticket sales surge. In his book “What are the Odds? Chance in Everyday Life” Mike Orkin, California State University math professor writes that, while bigger jackpots drive higher ticket sales, the chances of winning don’t change. What does change is the odds that a winning tickets will be sold in that particular round. So if that means, for you, that your odds are better….maybe they are

Improve your Odds

There are, however, some things that you can do to improve your odds.

  1. Avoid popular numbers. Lottery advisors note that the 1, 7 and 9 are, for some reason, the most popular numbers, so don’t use those numbers because if you end up sharing the win, you’ll be sharing with more players than you would otherwise.
  2. Avoid numbers that are based on arithmetic sequences — i.e. 3, 6, 9,12, 15 and 18. These are also popular numbers and more players pick these numbers than others on a regular basis.

Additional Canadian Lottery Odds

If you’re still looking at the odds for winning the lottery, consider some other Canadian lottery odds.

In the Lotto Max 7/7 you have a 1 in 28, 633, 528 chance of winning. The 6/7 + Bonus game gives you a 1 in 4, 090, 504 chance of winning and the 6/7 gives you a 1 in 99,768 chance of winning.

In the Poker Jackpot, you have a 1 in 649,740 chance of achieving a Royal Flush, a 1 in 72,193 chance of achieving a straight-flush and a 1 in 4,165 chance of drawing 4-of-a-kind.

And, since Canadians are blotto over their hockey, for the hockey lotto you have a 1 in 4,275,180 chance of drawing three $5000 prizes and similar odds of drawing two $5000 prizes.

Playing with a Group

Playing as part of a group is one of the most popular forms of lottery activity. Throughout Canada, many workplaces allow workers to create a pool. Every member contributes to the pool and, if their ticket wins, they split the proceeds.

While this is a less-expensive way to access more tickets, and contributes to workplace comradery, it can also cause breakdowns, misunderstandings and, in worst-case scenarios, lawsuits. You can, however, create pools of lottery players and avoid acrimony.

If you play with a group, confirm beforehand the parameters of the activity. Write it down and have everyone sign it. Group purchases, such as purchases of lottery tickets by a group of co-workers, is popular. Everyone chips in a specified amount and the odds of winning increase. The group generally agrees to split the winnings but there are frequent disputes about who contributed what percentage and who is entitled to what percentage of a win. You can avoid that when you

  1. Decide how many people you want in your pool
  2. Decide what you’re all willing to wager.
  3. Decide how decisions will be made.
  4. Appoint a group leader to carry out the group’s wishes.
  5. Write everything down and have all participating players sign the document
  6. Document participants in every lottery. Write down the name of the trustee who is responsible for a particular week’s lottery, the type of game, the draw date and ticket numbers and each pool member’s name and any other relevant information (including the number of tickets — the percentage — that they have in the game).
  7. Establish the rules. Who will determine the sequence and the numbers? When do the numbers change? Can players double their bets (for instance, if a particularly lucrative prize is being given out.
  8. Don’t add new players once the pool has been established. When you want, you can set up an alternate pool, or re-vamp the original pool, but it’s not a good idea to change the make-up of the pool on a frequent basis.
  9. Decide how long the group will be willing to accommodate IOUs.
  10. Plan ahead for pool members’ vacations and illnesses.
  11. Plan ahead for members who leave the workplace — will they continue to be counted as part of the pool?

Play the lottery and enjoy the entertainment and fun, but don’t count on lottery winnings.