1) Buy a Ticket
Quite frankly your odds of winning a lottery are minuscule, but without a ticket they are literally zero. So, buying a ticket raises them to a fraction of one. A tiny fraction. Like throwing a pebble at the ground means you’re on your way to recreating the Rocky Mountains. Regardless, a Canadian lottery win has to start somewhere. Decide how much you’re willing to lose and only play that amount.
Among millions of ticket buyers someone occasionally shows up to revive our hopes but offer us no useful information. They won; but how? Why? They had to be at the right place and time but no-one knows where or when that is!
Thank goodness your local lottery corporation has a slew of games and tickets you can buy. By design, they are all created to make the purchaser lose…mostly. From $1 Instant ‘scratchers’ to $5 mega-million dollar draws you can test your personal luck every day of the week.
Most people drop a few bucks on grocery day, or figure a few loonies aren’t gonna multiply themselves. They see a lottery display at the corner store or mall and stop in. With the full realization that it is nothing but a fool’s errand they pick out a likely candidate and hope for the best. 75% of the time they lose. 20% of the time they get a free ticket or a few bucks. 4.99% of tickets offer something substantial and .1% might make their day. Is there any way to home in on those ‘one-in-a-million’ tickets?
2) Do Your Homework
Despite the plethora of websites to the contrary, there is no reliable method to to help you win a lottery. A monkey and a dart board are just as useful as any algorithm or formula. However, if you are going to waste money gambling at least check into the odds against you. OLG, British Columbia Lottery Corporation, Western Lottery, Lotto-Quebec and the Atlantic Lottery Corporation all offer information on the games they sell. Before you venture out to a lottery retailer in your area you should poke around these pages and get familiar with the games.
There are national draws (6/49, Lotto Max and Daily Grand, or Grande Vie in Quebec) and some nationally distributed instant games. They all have regional variations as well. Ontario has Ontario 49 which is a 6-out-of-49 draw for $1 per ticket versus $3 for the national 6/49. Instead of playing with/against millions of Canadians you’re pooled with only a couple million Ontarians. However, the pot is fixed at $2 million and secondary prizes fall off quickly. (The Atlantic version tops out at $1 million). The problem is Ontario 49 still has odds of 13.9 million to one.
Ontario also has Lottario that provides two selections for $1. This might give you an impression that you’re ‘doubling’ your chances but this 6/45 draw has over 8 million possible combinations. Jackpots start at $250,000 and climb slowly. Winners are few and far between. At least it’s cheaper than the national Lotto Max. This weekly monster builds quickly to as much as $60 million with additional $1 million prizes. Mind you, all lottery draws grow because we are throwing money in and they are handing very little out. Lotto Max provides three selections per $5 ticket but the game has 28 million possible combinations.
Then there’s the Daily Grand. It’s a $3 ticket with some complexity thrown in. You not only have to match 5 numbers of 49 but a “Grand Number” as well to claim a pot that offers “$1,000 a day for life!”. Of course you’ll take the pay-out of $7 million up front but nobody has done that since, well ‘for-never’. I looked back 50 bi-weekly draws to June and saw no jackpot winners. Since this draw is not parimutuel, (it doesn’t accumulate), the lack of a winner is not generating any excitement.
So it seems that trying to guess a few numbers out of 45 or 49 is like trying to hit a bullet with a second bullet fired from Mars. Are instant games any better? Unlike draws, they are not a moving target. Among the tickets on display at any retailer, a possible winner can always be lurking. One need only decide how much one is willing to lose and buy a ticket accordingly. Of course, to ease the burden one can enlist, or sucker in, co-workers or family to chip in!
3) Pool Your Selections
It doesn’t make a big difference in the mathematical scheme of things but then, if we were looking at the odds, we’d never play. If you’re willing to waste $10 a month on tickets, but you’re just spinning your wheels, why not get 9 other people to waste $10 a month with you? As with any group activity however, it is advisable to set a few ground rules.
Nothing poisons a relationship faster than money, going out or coming in. You should have a friendly relationship with everybody who is going to be in your lottery pool but as President Reagan said: “Trust but verify”. Save yourself future grief by agreeing to terms and conditions in advance. I suggest you not only set a limit everybody is comfortable with, (e.g $5 per person per week), but set a time limit. Do the pool for a month or two then set a stop date. Chances are most will get sick of the losing and fade away anyhow.
And for God’s sake make sure nobody in the group plays tickets on their own! You don’t want to know what would happen if a player won with their own ticket and didn’t feel the need to share!
OLG has a Group Play kit that helps you keep track of who’s in or out. Absolutely get names and commitments from each player. Do not leave it to chance that someone will claim they wanted in AFTER the group wins some money. Generally, you’ll do nothing but lose, but even a few hundred bucks can cause ill-feelings among those who were left out.
Be aware, although Canadian lottery winnings are tax free to the legitimate ticket-holder(s), any money you give away is subject to income tax rules. You can donate to registered charities of course, but anybody whose name is not on the Group Play document is going to be in for a surprise if they think they can get a share of a lottery win after the fact.
So, create a group who agrees to let the ‘captain’ pool the money and choose the tickets. Ten people (let’s say) chip in a fiver every week for a $50 pool. You might go after Lotto Max every Friday, (10X $5 per selection, each selection though is multiplied by three so: 30 cracks at $10-60 million). You might buy 6/49 on Wednesday and Saturday or Daily Grand Mondays and Thursdays. Whatever the fool’s errand you choose, is there a way to improve your odds?
4) Wheel Your “Lucky” Numbers
Despite the fact that I have said there is no method for actually improving your winning odds, this does not deter anyone, (including yours truly), from trying to use a method for selecting picks. “Wheeling” refers to the general method of systematically matching and re-matching your individual picks. There are variations on the theme but basically the player takes their favored numbers, breaks them into groups, and turns the groups into sets of six, (for any 6/49 or 6/45 draw).
For example: pick twelve numbers. Either randomly or sequentially, (because it really doesn’t matter!), place three numbers each under A, B, C and D. Now create a set of six by putting the numbers from A+B on your lottery selection slip. Then, A+C, A+D. Next, B+C and B+D and finally C+D. You have now created six tickets from twelve numbers. This will cost you $30 for Lotto Max, $18 for 6/49 and $6 for Lottario and Ontario 49 (or the equivalent local version in your province). Don’t forget Lotto Max gives you two more selections for each one you buy and Lottario adds one each.
Using this method you can actually pick all 45 or 49 numbers if you purchase at least four or five wheels. This makes more sense for a group than an individual because it’s costlier than buying a ticket or two and, sadly, it doesn’t guarantee anything! You can have 100% coverage of the 49 possible numbers, but lotteries are won with sets of numbers, not individual digits. The winning lottery numbers will be on your tickets, but there’s no guarantee it will appear on a single line. You have to be prepared to persist, but wise enough to quit when the losses pile up.
What if you don’t want to bother with multiple wheels? You can attempt to pick just the twelve “hottest” numbers and use those. Google can lead you to a few sites that provide “statistical analysis” besides simply the latest winning numbers. Any one will do: Lottery Canada for example, allows you to view a chart showing what numbers were picked most often, in any Canadian lottery, over any time period you wish. Why is this important? Lottery numbers are funny beasts and appear to jumble together in little groups. Some numbers haven’t come up in weeks or months, while some have appeared five or ten times in a few draws. If you’re going to pick twelve numbers for a wheel, better to grab the ones that seem to have life in them. (For crissakes don’t just use birthdays!).
On the other hand, is this really useful information? Technically…no. Any given number will come up in any given draw. They won’t all come up at the same rate, but there is nothing preventing each one from appearing at any time. It’s random. There is no pattern no matter how hard you look. Some sites suggest an even/odd number ratio or high/low balance but it’s all voodoo nonsense. Right Place. Right Time. That’s the only thing the Demon of the Lottery cares about.
You can add “Encore” to any game for a loonie. Simply ask the retailer to add it on and a seven digit number will appear on your ticket. You win by matching left to right, or vice versa, and some digits in the middle, so it looks like you can’t lose. You can. Make sure to check your ticket for extra draw features. 6/49 has an additional “guaranteed” $1 million draw that you are guaranteed not to win. (Someone else will!). Lottario has an “Early Bird” extra draw if you buy your ticket before Friday night. Whatever you do, take your tickets to any lottery retailer and check them. Use the little blue machines at lottery kiosks. An infrared scanner will read the bar code and tell you if it’s a winner. I have discovered ‘free tickets’ that I didn’t know I had. So far though, no money.
5) Scratch Your Lottery Itch
Every province has a slew of instant games to play and they’re all just as much fun as root canal! Selections change throughout the year so your friendly neighborhood government monopoly can cash in on everything from Christian holidays to sporting events. Despite the variety of themes and colours, they tend to share a few commonalities. Scratch off latex revealing numbers or symbols . What is revealed is that you have lost again. You buy another.
There is a ticket for every budget and jackpots (unattainable!) to match.
Cheap tickets tend to be provincial. For $1 you can try Emoji Money with a modest $10,000 jackpot. Don’t fool yourself into thinking it’s easier to win than the more expensive tickets. Always check out the Player’s Guide Fact Sheet available for every game. (Look for the Download Odds and Payouts PDF button button one every game’s page). Here are the numbers you don’t want to know! Over 3 million of these little tickets have been distributed and only 5 of them have a jackpot on them. Scratch that, (pun intended) there are only 4 jackpots left, reducing your odds further.
I cannot stress enough that you should check out the Instant Unclaimed Prize Information page before buying any ticket. On this page you will be told how many, if any, jackpots are left for any game. Compare these two sources before buying tickets. You will discover that the $3 Words with Friends actually has no 1st, 2nd, 3rd or 4th prizes left! The lottery corporation is under no obligation to tell you the remaining tickets are useless. A disclaimer on every ticket says prizes may already have been claimed before you show up. Don’t be the sucker that keeps buying those dried up husks.
At the other end of the scale are the $20 and $30 monsters with eye-watering jackpots. If you have $30 to lose try $250 Million Golden Treasure. This one has been around for a while and only one jackpot of $2.5 million remains of 10. As a national instant game, 12,360,000 tickets were scattered across Canada. This is a big country. Good luck finding that last jackpot!
Multimillionaire is similar but new. It’s ten jackpots of $2.5 M are unclaimed but scattered across the country and 12,460,000 tickets. Personally, I’m OK with wasting $10 on X Money. Sure it’s winners are to be found among 15,037,500 tickets nationwide, but its prize structure is intriguing. Who wouldn’t ‘settle’ for $500,000 or $50,000 versus the $1 M jackpot? Nine biggies remain as well as a smattering of decent prizes down to $5,000.
Keep in mind, this can also be an indication that prizes are more difficult to win than simply beating million-to-one odds. Take the various Crossword iterations; $10 Deluxe, $5 Tripler and $3 Instant. It doesn’t appear anyone is winning those prizes. There is always a key missing letter and you need to uncover at least three words to win anything. I actually had all the vowels on one, including ‘Y’ and the damn thing still paid nothing! Uncovering eleven words for a jackpot in Crossword Tripler is not just a gamble, it’s impossible.
Feel free to pick a game that amuses you, for a reasonable amount. Fantasize if you wish about the Big Win but never obsess over it. Satan is probably in charge of handing out lottery wins and since he thrives on misery, he ain’t handing out many.
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