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If you thought this headline referred to your fantasy football team’s chances, or the #1 spot at your next singing competition, your odds are actually much better than what I’m talking about: lotteries.

Lotteries have been called both a “tax on the poor” and in friendlier speech, a “tax on people who are bad at math,” due to your abysmally low chances of winning substantial cash. For example, your odds of winning the MegaMillions jackpot are about 1 in 258.9 million. Your Powerball odds are 1 in 292.2 million, even worse.

There are lots of gimmicks out there that promise to increase your chances at winning. For example, random number generators and other types of software promise to predict more unique or more frequently winning numbers. However, lottery numbers are completely random. Picking a unique number only means you increase your chances at keeping the whole prize, instead of having to split it with other winners.

Still, there are four proven things you can do to improve your chances:

 

  1. Compete With Less People

National lotteries are played by hundreds of millions of people, so you’re competing with hundreds of millions of people to win. State lotteries, where players have to be physically in that state to buy a ticket will have better odds because less people are playing.

  1. Go For the Smaller Prize

Generally, the smaller the prize, the more chances you have of winning.This is because at a lower cost per prize, the house can afford to give away prizes to more winners. So go for the scratch-off ticket offering $5000 rather than the million-dollar jackpot.

  1. Join a lottery pool

Increase your number of tickets in the entry pool without increasing your budget. Get a group of friends together, or your coworkers at the office, and agree to each buy a certain number of tickets. By pooling your tickets together, you’re effectively increasing the amount of tickets you’ve entered into the drawing. If you do win, the people in your lottery pool can split the rewards evenly.

  1. Play Second-Chance Games

Some lotteries make second-chance games available- this means that if your number isn’t drawn the first time, you have a chance to play the same number again.

 

Finally, even if you’re not a big winner, you can still reap the benefits of lotteries indirectly. The revenue that lotteries bring in helps states pay for educational and social benefits programs that are vital to the economy and to the well-being of state residents.

If you do play the lottery, remember to play responsibly and never gamble with money you’ll need for other more important things. But if you have room to have a little fun, play smart with these four tips!