Okay, we all "want to win the lottery," but do you really, really want to win?
Remember: Playing the lottery is a form of gambling, so know your limit and play within it.
1. Buy extra tickets
Ok, we never said these tips would be that creative. It's totally obvious that buying extra tickets increases your chance of winning the lottery, but most frugal and right-thinking people will never buy more than one ticket.
The costs add up, but every guide to winning the lottery agrees buying extra tickets gives you an advantage, especially when it's combined with other tips and tricks.
2. Stick to your lucky numbers
There's a heated debate between lotto players about whether it's best to buy quick picks (where the computer chooses your numbers) or to select your lucky numbers. Our money is on choosing your own.
The thing about lucky numbers is they're your numbers, and you'll always remember to play because otherwise you could miss your chance.
To be fair, quick pick tickets make up the vast majority of lottery winners, but playing consistently is more important. Unless...
3. Don't play every week
Many dedicated lotto players actually avoid big, popular games like the Mega Millions and Powerball draws. Instead, they target unpopular games with low jackpots during their least popular times of the year, and load up on tickets for specific draws.
It takes a little research, but if there's a winner every time, your odds in one of these draws are way better than most big games.
4. Pick high numbers
This tip won't improve your odds of "winning the lottery" per se, but experts say it makes you less likely to split a big draw. The theory goes that people tend to pick numbers between 1 and 31, based on important dates in their lives.
Richard Lustig, who says he's won the lottery seven times, swears by his "number spreading technique," and included it in his book Learn How to Increase Your Chances of Winning the Lottery. Here's another one of Lustig's tips...
5. Don't buy consecutive numbers
Lustig offers his readers this bit of helpful math: if a lottery draw had 5 numbers, and they only go up to 55, the total of your five numbers should be between 104 and 175. The lotto expert says studies show that 70% of jackpot draws fall within that number "spread."
For he same reasons, Lustig warns to avoid picking multiple numbers from the same group of tens (for example: 21, 25 and 28), or numbers that end in the same digit.
6. Don't play in patterns
One last trusty tip from Lustig: if you like filling in your number card with an X, diagonal lines or other patterns, odds are other lotto players do too. Like picking low numbers, this only increases your chance of splitting a game-winning draw.
7. Play with friends
If you work in an office, you're probably already part of a lottery syndicate or pool. The advantages of these groups are pretty obvious: with more money, you can buy more tickets and play more often.
So find a couple of friends, as long as you can stand to split a couple million bucks with them.
8. Play the hot numbers
Dr. Min Su Kim, a statistics teacher at the Southern University in Lousiana, crunched the numbers on the Powerball draws over the last two decades. He discovered that the numbers 20, 37, 2, 31 and 35 were the most common ones drawn, while 42 was the most popular bonus ball number.
This doesn't really mean anything, since each draw is random, but some players like to study the "common" numbers in their favorite game and play them.
9. Check your tickets
We shouldn't need to remind you, but lottery winner Jimmie Smith was just two days away from losing his $24 million jackpot after leaving the winning ticket sitting in a shirt in his closet. Another unlucky winning ticket gave $300,000 to local schools after its owner failed to present it. Don't let this happen to you!
Besides, even if your ticket is a loser, you should hang on to it for the "second-chance" drawings that most lotteries offer.
10. Keep an eye on your cashier, or check your tickets yourself
We hate to bring this up, but there are a lot of stories about cashiers nabbing winning tickets out of the hands of unsuspecting lottery players. It's become such a common complaint that many lottery officials warn players to always check their tickets independently.
Note: Please don't cheat to win the lottery and tell people it was our idea. We're just saying that it's worked for some people.
Stefan Mandel, a Romanian math whiz nicknamed the "lottery mastermind," won 14 huge prizes after designing an equation which picked every ticket with five out of six winning numbers. Of course, even then Mandel had to buy all those tickets, but the investment paid off for him.
You can't argue with results.
12. Don't die
It sounds stupid, and maybe it is, but apparently this is how seriously lottery players take their chances. As the LottoSend blog explains, your chance of being hit by a car and killed in a given week is 1 in 500,000.
Since those odds are so much lower than your chances of winning the lottery, it stands to reason that you should buy your ticket the night of a big draw. Why? To avoid dying in a car accident with the winning ticket in the days before the draw.
I need to go lie down.
13. Admit defeat
Maybe the only real way to "win" the lottery is to play for fun. That means admitting to yourself that you'll probably never hit the jackpot. After all, your odds of being struck by lightning are way higher. We'll just settle for a free play on our next ticket.
Do you have good luck traditions for the lottery?