You’re Better Off Not Picking Your Own Mega Millions Numbers, Experts Say

A Florida lottery winner and author says that you can increase your chances of winning the Mega Millions (or Powerball) by asking for a randomly-generated “quick pick” rather than by picking your own numbers, The Ann Arbor News reports.

The Mega Millions jackpot is now in uncharted territory, with Tuesday’s jackpot estimated to be in the neighborhood of $1.6 billion, the highest in U.S. history, by a long shot (no pun intended). And some lottery players are looking for any advantage they can possibly find. And as it turns out, according to Richard Lustig, who has won multiple Florida Lottery jackpots, there are several things you can do to give yourself an advantage.

Don’t Pick Your Own Numbers

When you buy a lottery ticket, whether for a multi-state game like Powerball or Mega Millions, or a smaller, state-run game (like Missouri’s Lucky For Life, for example), you have two options. You can fill out a little paper slip that allows you to pick your own numbers, or you can ask the cashier to give you computer-generated, random-number “quick pick.”

Go for the quick pick, says Lustig.

There are two reasons for this. First, people tend to pick their own numbers based on sentiment, which means they’ll pick numbers that have meaning to them, such as their birthdays. But since lots of players have the same idea, if your numbers do come up (so to speak), you’ll likely split your winnings with other players.

Second, playing numbers such as your birthday shuts you out of the jackpot if higher numbers come into play. The winning numbers for the most recent Mega Millions drawing, for example, were 15-23-53-65-70 MB:7 – so any player who focused exclusively on dates would have missed out for playing too many lower numbers related to days and months

So, just have the cashier give you a quick pick.

Other Things You Can Do

About those quick-picks: do it once, and once only. Then, for the remainder of your lottery-playing years, stick with those numbers.

“The problem with buying quick picks is every time you buy one, you get a different set of numbers. So your odds are always the same.”

Of course, considering the ridiculously-long odds facing you to begin with, this strategy only increases your odds infinitesimally. But any port in a storm, so to speak.

Another option is to join a lottery pool – that is, get some friends, family members, co-workers together, pool your money, and buy as many tickets as you can. Lottery pools have won several high-profile jackpots over the years, and even a share of $1.6 billion is better than no share of $1.6 billion.

The Mega Millions drawing takes place on Tuesday night at 11:00 p.m. Eastern Time.