Is it possible to increase your Powerball jackpot odds?
(NEXSTAR) – With yet another large lottery jackpot brewing — this time, a $875 million Powerball jackpot — it’s tempting to want to try your luck.
But, in a game when you’ll be facing potentially millions of other players, are there any ways to sway your odds of landing the record-setting Powerball prize?
First, it’s important to understand what your odds at the jackpot really are.
Any ticket has a 1 in 292.2 million chance of matching the winning jackpot numbers, Powerball officials say. You’re more likely to be attacked by a shark (1 in 3.7 million, according to the Florida Museum of Natural History) or being struck by lightning (less than 1 in a million), or even both on the same day, than winning big.
Still, there are some methods lottery players swear by to improve their chances of winning the major payout.
Among those are selecting certain numbers. Data shows there are some numbers that are drawn more frequently than others. Over the last seven years (the Powerball number pool grew in 2015), there are some numbers that have been drawn more than others, according to Powerball statistics website Powerball.net: 32, 39, 36, 23, and 16, and for the red Powerball, 18, 24, 6, 11, and 20.
Four of those numbers — 23 and 32, and Powerball numbers 18 and 20 — were pulled in the last five Powerball drawings. Others may also suggest going for numbers that are “overdue,” meaning they haven’t been pulled recently.
Or, because you need to correctly match six numbers to win the Powerball jackpot, you may be more concerned about selecting the best combination. You could spend your time evaluating all the possibilities and deciding which numbers to select, but it will most likely not help you.
Every combination of numbers — regardless of whether you pick your lucky number, your birthday, “overdue” numbers, or a random draw — has the same slim chance of winning. The same numbers could even be pulled two drawings in a row, Rutgers University professor and department chair Rong Chen explains.
While picking the correct combination of numbers is nearly futile (not impossible, of course), Chen notes you could improve your odds of not having to share the jackpot, should you win. By picking numbers other players are less likely to select, like those on the edges of the ticket form or numbers associated with a birthday or anniversary, you may have a better chance of being the sole winner of the jackpot.
There are other methods lottery players use to try to increase their chances of winning, like lottery wheeling — selecting a group of numbers and playing every combination or permutation of those numbers — or selecting numbers that have or haven’t been picked recently. Some also try the Delta Lotto System, which uses a bit of math to reduce the number of digits you’ll pick from, though many note it doesn’t take probability into account.
But, remember, every draw has an equal chance of winning the Powerball jackpot.
If you have some extra funds to spare, there is a simple way to improve your odds: buying more tickets. Buying 100 tickets, for example, would cut your odds to about 1 in 2.92 million instead of 1 in 292.2 million, Andrew Perry, a professor at Springfield College explained to Nexstar’s WWLP.
“However you play, there’s a high probability of losing all your money. I would advise people not to risk money that they can’t afford to lose,” Perry said.
Though your odds of landing the top prize is slim, it isn’t impossible. There have been more than 230 jackpots in Powerball’s 31-year history, so about seven jackpots will be won every year.
Even if you don’t hit the jackpot, you still have a decent chance of winning a prize. With nine ways to win, the odds of winning any prize while playing Powerball is 1 in 29. The smallest prize available is $4 — enough to buy two more Powerball tickets.
Powerball drawings are held every Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday at 10:59 p.m. ET. The lottery game is played in 45 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.