Understand expected value when playing the lottery

There are not many things that lottery players need to concern themselves with, because the outcome of each draw is determined by luck and luck alone. Intricate strategies and betting systems are worthless and paying a dime for purchasing them is an utter waste of money. On the other hand, there are a couple of concepts that are worth the attention and one thing that players need to understand is expected value.


Even though they have no control over the outcome of the game and luck dictates the result of lottery draws, there is still an upside in understanding expected value. Lower tier prizes are frequently underestimated by players, as they instinctively focus their attention on the jackpots. In order to accurately calculate expected value, it is essential to factor them in and players need to keep an open eye on the odds of winning any amount.

When calculating the returns, lower tier prizes count as well and on the long run the smallest amounts are the ones that keep players afloat. Scooping the jackpot should be the main priority for players, and lotteries who only reward two or three categories of winners should be avoided. On the other hand, it is worth playing those games where players are presented with a prize even if they match only a handful of numbers. The probability of winning in various categories is calculated in the same manner, so those who want to take an analytical approach to evaluating expected value should resort to mathematics.

Fortunately most of the lotteries that truly matter worldwide have an online website that highlights the chance of winning prizes in each category. These values in conjunction with the price of a regular ticket will eventually highlight the expected value and help players decide whether the lottery can be profitable or not on the long run. The fascination for jackpots shouldn’t be underestimated and people will always fancy those lotteries that offer the highest potential payouts.

Expected value is also calculated based on the size of the jackpot and depending on the cost of a ticket, there are values above which jackpots are worth pursuing. If we are to take the immensely popular Powerball lottery as an example, players should know that whenever the jackpot exceeds $276 million, they should double their efforts and purchase more tickets. Keep in mind that expected value has nothing to do with the actual odds of winning independent draws and regardless of it, the chances to win any prize stay the same.