Find the expected value. This is a good idea for any lottery game you are considering playing. The expected value refers to the probability of any one outcome, assuming all outcomes are equally probable. Here, the expected value calculates the value of the ticket, if the game was set up fairly so that the revenue gained from the losing tickets would match the winners' profits.
2 Power Play Prize Amount - A Power Play Match Five (5 + 0) prize is set at $2,000,000 regardless of the Power Play number selected. All other non-Grand prizes will be multiplied by the Power Play number selected.* Beginning with the October 7, 2015 drawing, prize tiers 3 - 9 will be multiplied by 2, 3, 4, 5 or 10 times when the Power Play feature is purchased.* The 10X Power Play multiplier will be available for drawings in which the initially advertised annuitized Grand Prize amount is $150 million or less. Click here to view the Power Play prize chart.
This article focuses on the Powerball lottery, the largest lottery in the United States. Available in 42 states, Washington D.C., and the U.S. Virgin Islands, Powerball always has a jackpot of at least $20 million and has drawings twice a week. It is made up of five sets of 59 numerical white balls and one set of 39 red “Powerballs,” which make up the winning number combinations for each drawing.
Buying lottery tickets is not an efficient way to increase your personal wealth. For those of you who still think you can beat the odds, there actually is a strategy. The single surefire way to win money from playing the Powerball lottery is to buy 39 tickets, each one hand-picked to contain one of the unique Powerball numbers between 1 and 39. You are then guaranteed to at least win the $3 prize. Sure, it may have cost you $39, but this is one way to “win” the lottery.
In the Mega Millions multi-state lottery, jackpots are split equally among all winners who match all numbers. If a player could ensure that he wouldn't have to split the jackpot, Mega Millions becomes a smart bet whenever the jackpot exceeds about $420 million, but this calculation doesn't account for the possibility of a split jackpot. It has been theorized that the ticket buying frenzies as the jackpot rises increases the likelihood of multiple winners sufficiently that the jackpot can never get large enough to give a ticket a positive expected value.
Lotteries have often been called a “tax on the poor,” and for good reason. The majority of lottery ticket buyers are in the lower income tax brackets. Often less educated about finances and less likely to save money for retirement, these lottery players don’t view the expense of a few lottery tickets as a major cash outlay. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth. In the long run, spending money on tickets that never win costs players more than just the face value of the tickets and prevents many people from ever getting out of debt.