Lottery Odds

Lottery odds are things that confuse many players, but they aren’t nearly as complicated as people tend to think. Read through our crash course in lottery odds and in ten minutes you’ll have a great understanding of what lottery odds mean and how they are calculated.

When someone refers to lottery odds they are generally talking about the odds of winning a jackpot. These odds are expressed as x in y, where x represents the chances that the player has of succeeding and y represents the total number of possible outcomes.

For example, consider the rolling of a six-sided cube where each side has a different number from 1 to 6. Your odds of rolling any specific number would be expressed as 1 in 6, because there are six possible outcomes and you would achieve success with just one of them.

In lottery games the situation is a little more complicated but not excessively so. When you play a lottery the odds of you succeeding are dependent of three main factors:

1. The quantity of numbers in play.

2. The quantity of numbers selected by the player.

3. The quantity of numbers that will be drawn.

For example, with Powerball the player selects:

1. Five numbers between 1 and 69.

2. An extra Powerball number between 1 and 26.

Six numbers are selected by the player and six numbers are drawn. You win the jackpot if you match all six numbers. The odds of winning the jackpot are therefore equal to the number of different ways in which five numbers could possibly be picked from the range 1 to 69 and additionally, the number of different ways the single Powerball number could possibly be picked from the range 1 to 26.

For the total six numbers, there are 292,201,338 such combinations, so the odds of winning the jackpot are 1 in 292,201,338.

The odds of matching five numbers but not the Powerball are equal to the number of different ways in which five numbers could possibly be picked from the range 1 to 69. There are 11,688,053 such combinations, so the odds of matching all five numbers are 1 in 11,688,053. If you match five numbers but not the Powerball, you'll still win a cool $1,000,000

You have a 1 in 38 chance of matching just the single Powerball number between 1 and 26 - but if you only match the Powerball, you win just $4.

Because the odds of success depend on the three factors mentioned a moment ago, the only way to change the odds of any game is to change the quantity of numbers in play, the quantity of numbers selected by the player or the quantity of numbers that will be drawn.

Since the quantity of numbers that are in play and the quantity of numbers drawn are fixed, our only option is to select more numbers by playing more tickets, and our chance of success increases in direct proportion to the number of lottery tickets we play. So, if we play ten lottery tickets instead of one, our chances of success change from 1 in 292,201,338 to 10 in 292,201,338.

Now that you understand lottery odds and how they work, you can compare the odds for different lottery games and understand at a glance which game offers you the greatest chance of winning. You will still need a large amount of luck to land a jackpot, but at least you can now play with more insight and understanding than the majority of participants.


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