Is group play for me?
The following is an example that may help you decide. Say you just
bought 5 Lotto 649 tickets for the next draw. The jackpot is $20
million. You meet a friend who tells you they have just bought 95
tickets for the same draw as part of a lottery group purchase. Your
friend invites you to join the group by simply adding your 5 tickets to
the group's 95 tickets. You cannot decide what to do, so your friend
offers you the option to decide after the draw. You sign your 5 tickets
and the group leader signs their 95 tickets and all 100 tickets are
placed in an envelope. The envelope is given to an independent auditor
to hold. After the draw is held, the auditor checks all the tickets and
reports back to you and the group leader. There are two cases to
consider. If the auditor reports that none of the 100 tickets won the
jackpot, then your decision on whether or not to join the group is moot.
what if the auditor reports that one of the 100 tickets won the $20
million jackpot and now you are faced with the choice of whether or not
to join the group. If you decide to join the group, then you are
guaranteed to win $1 million (your 5 tickets represent a 5% share of
the jackpot). If you decide to not join the group, then you have a 5%
chance of winning $20 million or a 95% chance of winning nothing. In
other words, by not joining the group, you are effectively making a $1
million wager on the hopes of winning $20 million. Most people, when
faced with that option would join the group and take the $1 million.
There are very few millionaires even, that would make that kind of
wager. If you are the type of person that would take the guaranteed $1
million, then group play is for you.
Does the above example ever happen in real life?
Yes it has, several times. The Michigan Lottery sold a series of
scratch tickets in 2005 and 2006 where the grand prize was a free trip
to attend a live drawing for a chance at $2 million. The drawing was
always held at a special event such as half time at a football game or
a community carnival. For each special draw, there were only 5
finalists. Prior to the draw, the 5 finalists had an opportunity to
meet "back stage". In many cases, the discussions revolved around the
possibility of splitting the prize evenly among the 5 finalists.
Lottery held these draws between 10 and 20 times. Every variety of
situation arose. In some cases, there was no decision to split and a
single person won the $2 million. In many cases, all 5 contestants
decided to split the money and each person "won" a guaranteed $400,000
even before the draw was held. There was one interesting situation
where 4 persons had decided to split but the fifth person decided not
to. The draw was held and the group of 4 persons won. The fifth person
was like the fictional person in the above answer. He decided to wager
$400,000 with the hope of winning $2 million. He was either very rich
or very foolish.
How does one join a group?
Complete the online form on the Events Online website. The form will
ask for name, address, payment, a declaration that you are at least 19
years of age and that you agree to all the rules and procedures as
described on this FAQ web page.
How much does it cost to join a group?
The ongoing cost is $10 per share per month for a regular group. The
initial cost is determined by dividing the current group balance by the
current number of shares. The result is rounded up to the nearest
dollar. For temporary groups, the cost varies and is announced when a
new temporary group is formed.
When can one quit?
You can quit any group (regular or temporary) at any time. Simply send
an email informing the organizer of your intentions to quit. Your
payout from the group is calculated by dividing the current group
balance by the current number of shares. The result is rounded down to
the nearest dollar. If the group is holding free tickets, then the
value of the free tickets is not used when calculating the group's
What is a regular group?
A regular group is an ongoing group with monthly dues. Members can join
or quit at any time. There are currently five regular groups - Group
A1, Group A2, Group B1, Group B2 and Group C1.
How does Group A1 work?
Group A1 buys Lotto 649 tickets whenever the jackpot is $20 million or
more. The group is limited to 40 shares. The strategy is for each share
to win at least $0.5 million if the group wins the jackpot and the
group holds the only winning ticket. The share limit is temporarily
increased whenever the announced jackpot is larger than $20 million
while still maintaining the $0.5 million win per share. On average, the
group buys tickets about 12 times per year.
How does Group A2 work?
Group A2 is structured identically to Group A1. See above for details.
Group A2 was created when Group A1 reached its share limit.
How does Group B1 work?
Group B1 buys Lotto 649 tickets whenever the jackpot is $20 million or
more. The group is limited to 20 shares. The strategy is for each share
to win at least $1 million if the group wins the jackpot and the group
holds the only winning ticket. The share limit is temporarily increased
whenever the announced jackpot is larger than $20 million while still
maintaining the $1 million win per share. The current number of shares
in the group is larger than the limit because the previous share limit
was 23 shares. The number of shares in the group will be reduced to 20
through attrition. On average, the group buys tickets about 12 times
How does Group B2 work?
Group B2 is structured identically to Group B1. See above for details.
Group B2 was created when Group B1 reached its share limit.
How does Group C1 work?
Group C1 buys Lotto 649 tickets whenever the jackpot is $30 million or
more. The group is limited to 30 shares. The strategy is for each share
to win at least $1 million if the group wins the jackpot and the group
holds the only winning ticket. The share limit is temporarily increased
whenever the announced jackpot is larger than $30 million while still
maintaining the $1 million win per share. On average, the group buys
tickets about 4 times per year.
Why limit the number of shares in a regular group?
Each regular group has a maximum number of shares set in order to not
dilute the amount won per share below a certain value. For Groups A1
and A2, the maximum number of shares is set so that each share wins a
minimum of $0.5 million. For Groups B1, B2 and C1, the maximum number
of shares is set so that each share wins a minimum of $1 million.
What if one wants to win more than the minimum amount, say $2 million?
To win more than the minimum amount, one needs to buy more than 1 share
in a particular group. For example, buying 2 shares in Group C will
result in winning at least $2 million if the group hits the jackpot and
holds the only winning ticket.
Does a regular group still buy tickets when the number of shares in the group is very low?
Yes, even if the number of shares in a regular group is well below the
maximum number of shares, the group will still buy tickets when the
Lotto 649 jackpot is at least $20 million.
what may happen in these instances, is regular groups may be combined
for a single draw. The combining of regular groups will only occur, if
the target jackpot win per share is still maintained. For example, if
the number of shares in Group B1 and Group B2 is 10 shares each, then
the groups may be combined for a single draw since at 20 shares for the
combined group will still offer the possibility of each share winning
$1 million each. Combining of groups is very advantageous for those
members that only belong to one of the two groups being combined. The
member's probability of winning greatly increases while still
maintaining their minimum target share of the jackpot.
When combining two regular groups for a single draw, how is the situation handled where a person is a member of both groups?
By default, the person would become a member of the combined group but
would have multiple shares. For example, if a person has a share in
Group B1 and a share in Group B2 and the two groups are combined for a
single draw, then the member has two shares in the combined group.
Members have three options in these situations. 1) Allow the default
rule to apply. 2) Request to have their number of shares reduced for
that single draw, and 3) Ask, in advance, that whenever groups are
combined that their shares are reduced to a predetermined number or
Do the regular groups only buy tickets for the Lotto 649 lottery?
Yes, for the vast majority of ticket purchases. If there is an
opportunity though, to buy tickets for a lottery with an unusually high
expected value, the organizer has the option to buy tickets for that
particular lottery. In all cases though, the portion of the jackpot
that each share could win must meet the minimum value set for the
particular regular group. For example, Group B1 could buy tickets for
another lottery as long as the jackpot for that lottery is at least X
millions of dollars where X is the number of shares in Group B2.
What is a temporary group?
A temporary group is formed whenever the opportunity arises. This
occurs under a few different circumstances. One, if the Lotto 649
jackpot is larger than $20 million and there are little or no funds in
the regular groups to buy tickets. Two, the Super 7 jackpot is very
large. Three, there is an opportunity to buy tickets in another lottery
with an especially large jackpot.
How much does it cost to join a temporary group?
The cost to join is determined at the time the group is formed but is
usually $1 per share. There is usually no limit on the number of shares
a member can buy. The group continues until there is no money left in
the group or all monies in the group is dispursed to the members of the
group. Once a temporary group has bought tickets for at least one draw,
new members are not usually allowed to join the group. Exceptions to
this rule are made in those situtations where adding more shares to the
group does not dilute the amount won per share that was established on
the first draw for the group.
How can I find out about new temporary groups?
When a new temporary group is formed, all members of the regular groups
are notified by email. If you are not a member of a regular group, you
can ask to be placed on the temporary groups mailing list.
How often are tickets purchased?
The regular groups, Groups A1, A2, B1 and B2, buy tickets whenever the
Lotto 649 jackpot is over $20 million. This happens on average about 12
times per year. Group C1 buys tickets whenever the Lotto 649 jackpot is
$30 million or more. This happens on average about 4 times per year.
The Lotto 649 jackpot usually reaches at least $20 million after 3
rolls or when there are bonus jackpots.
How are winnings distributed?
Small wins are kept in the group and used to buy more tickets. Medium
size winnings are distributed to members. Usually this is done by
crediting the account of the respective members. Subsequent monthly
fees are drawn from the members' account balance. Winnngs can also be
paid to members via bank transfer or mailing a cheque. The payment
preference is up to the individual group member. Unlike some lottery
groups advertised on the Internet, I do not withhold any percentage of
winnings as a fee. Any fees though, encurred to transfer funds to a
member are the responsibility of the member and are deducted from the
amount being transferred. Also, any fees incurred to redeem a winning
ticket are deducted from the balance of the group holding the winning
ticket. Examples of redemption fees are the cost of a registered letter
for redemptions between $1,000 and $50,000 or travel costs to the
lottery office to redeem tickets over $50,000.
How can one increase the odds of winning the lottery?
There is only one way to increase one's odds of winning the lottery and
that is by buying more tickets. The more tickets you buy, the better
your chances of winning. By joining a group, you are effectively buying
more tickets. For example, with $2 you can buy one Lotto 649 ticket and
have one chance in 14 million of hitting the jackpot. By joining a
group with say 28 members, your $2 can then allow you to have a share
in 28 tickets. Now your odds of hitting the lottery are only 1 in
What is the variable share option and how does it work?
The variable share option is a method of minimizing how much one spends
on a temporary lottery group while still trying to win certain share of
the jackpot. The following is an explanation of how it works. A member,
upon joining a temporary group, would supply two numbers.
1) The maximum they are willing to spend.
2) How much of the jackpot they wish to win.
They would always be kept to the minimum dollar amount in the group to
meet their win goal. If the total amount of money in the group
increases, their share level would also be increased proportionately.
example, say a new temporary group starts for a lottery with a $20
million jackpot and there is presently $95 in the group. Upon joining
the new group, a member can propose to spend a maximum of $20 with the
hope of winning a $1 million share of the jackpot. Therefore, they only
need to spend $5 to get a $1 million share (5%) of the jackpot. As more
money is added to the group, say a total of $290, then their share in
the group is increased proportionately to $15 to maintain their $1
million share of the jackpot. Their cost, though, never exceeds the $20
This option is
especially useful for the first few members of a new group. They have
no idea how many more people are going to join. They do not want to
spend too little and get too small a share of the jackpot and at the
same time, they do not want to spend too much in the case where only a
few people join the new group.
What are hot and cold numbers?
Hot numbers are numbers that have been drawn more often than average.
Cold numbers are numbers that have been drawn less often than average.
Can the use of hot and cold numbers help one predict lottery draws?
No. The numbers have no memory. Whether the numbers are drawn using a
ball drop machine or a computer, they do not remember how many times
they were drawn. In a completely random process, past drawings have
absolutely no influence on future drawings. Lottery companies expend
considerable time and expense ensuring the draws are completely random.
There are all kinds of advertised systems that use hot and cold numbers to predict the lottery. Are there any that work?
No, they do not help to predict the lottery draws. They only make money
for the person selling the system. Besides, if the prediction system
did work, why do they bother trying to sell them? Why don't they just
use the systems themselves to make millions? Why? Because the
supposedly sure-fire prediction systems do not work.
But what if hot and cold numbers could be used to predict the lottery?
Let us assume by some miracle of nature the balls could remember how
many times they were drawn and they could store that information
somehow in their little Indian rubber brains. And also assume the balls
knew what the proper statistical average should be for each ball and
could also store that information. And also assume that the balls,
having that newly acquired information, cared that they were either hot
or cold, that is, picked more or less than average. And also assume the
balls had the means to act on that information. Say, little arms that
pushed other balls out the way to somehow influence the next ball to
drop. Then if all those wild assumptions were true, then one still
could not use hot and cold balls to predict the lottery because the
draws that the lottery corporations advertise are not the only draws
that are held. Before each official draw, there are a number of test
drawings used to test the equipment and make sure everything is OK. So
a ball that has been reported as cold may have been drawn several times
during the test draws and may in fact be a hot ball or simply an
average ball. On top of all that, the lottery corporations use more
than one set of balls. For example, Lotto 649 and Super 7 draws are
conducted by Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation. They randomly
select which set of balls to use before each draw.
Are there any means of predicting the lottery?
No. Absolutely not! Lottery draws are random.
Lottery corporations spend a lot of money making sure that all lottery
draws are random. But lottery corporations do not mind the fact that
there are many people who believe otherwise. A lot of money is spent on
systems and eventually tickets on failed attempts to "beat" the
lottery. When people are sure they have "beaten the system", they spend
a lot of money on tickets, making even more profit for the lottery
companies. The same thing happens in casinos. The casinos make millions
of dollars on people who think they have devised the ultimate system of
beating the odds.
What is done to ensure the draws are random?
The following are some of the procedures followed by Ontario Lottery
and Gaming to ensure the draws are random. OLG conducts the national
Lotto 649 and Super 7 draws. Other lottery companies follow similar
balls used are made of solid Indian rubber. Each one is identical in
every way. Even the number on the ball itself is not printed on but
embedded in the rubber. The number is a part of the ball itself. Each
ball has the identical weight, diameter, density and bounce. At least
once every three months the lottery balls are taken to Quantum
Inspection and Testing Limited, a Burlington, Ontario-based laboratory
The balls are checked with a
micrometer to determine that they are exactly 50 mm in diameter. They
are measured for resiliency, that is, how well they bounce. This is
done two ways. Using a resiliometer, a weight is dropped on a ball and
how much it bounces is measured. The balls are video tapped as they are
dropped. The video tape is reviewed in freeze frame to measure the
exact height of each bounce. The balls are submerged in water and their
volume is determined by how much water is displaced. Each ball is
x-rayed to ensure that there are no impurities or cavities within the
ball. Each ball is weighed using a digital scale. Each lottery ball
must be within one gram of a mean weight. If not, the set is thrown out.
lottery balls are manufactured by Ryo-Catteau from Wattrelos, France.
Ryo-Catteau is the world's foremost manufacturer of lottery machines
and balls. They insure that each ball is identical in every way.
Lottery balls last on average of 3 years. A set of 49 lottery balls
from Ryo-Catteau cost $13,000. That is almost $300 a ball.
What is the best way to win the lottery?
Buy lots of tickets. The more tickets you buy, the better your chances
of winning. Of course, that can be very expensive. The best way of
buying more tickets is by joining a group. It is a tradeoff. By joining
a group you end up with a good chance of winning a share of the jackpot
compared to a poor chance of winning the entire jackpot.
How does one choose which lottery to play?
First and foremost, only play lotteries with a relatively high expected
value. Lotteries with fixed jackpots generally will have a fixed
expected value. Lotteries with variable sized jackpots will have a
variable expected value. In general, the larger the jackpot is, then
the larger the expected value will be. So in general, play lotteries
with variable sized jackpots and only play when the jackpots are large.
Examples of lotteries with variable sized jackpots are Lotto 649 and
Super 7. The jackpot sizes vary because whenever a jackpot is not won,
the money allocated to the jackpot prize is rolled over to the jackpot
of the next draw. This rule has resulted in record jackpots such as the
$54 million Lotto 649 jackpot on October 26, 2005.
What is expected value?
Expected value is the theoretical value of any given wager or bet. It
is calculated by multiplying the probabilities of all the outcomes
times the prize awarded for each outcome. The resulting values are
added up to arrive at the expected value. For example, if one was
awarded $10 for correctly guessing a number from 1 to 10. Then the
expected value of the wager is $1. The probability of correctly
guessing is 10% times the prize of $10 gives a result of $1. A
simplified way of calculating expected value is the amount of money
paid out on any given lottery compared to the amount of money taken in.
In these cases, expected value is often expressed as a percentage. That
is the percentage of money awarded in prizes. Most lotteries have an
average expected value of 50%. The expected value of a $1 wager is
How does the expected value of a lottery vary?
There are two types of lotteries. One, those lotteries with a fixed
prize structure and therefore a fixed expected value. Examples of those
are Ontario 49, Western 649 and most scratch tickets. And two, those
lotteries whose prize structure varies. Those lotteries have jackpots
that grow when they are not won. Some examples are Lotto 649 and Super
7. Since the jackpot size varies, then so does the expected value.
If the jackpot of a lottery doubles, can it be assumed then that the expected value also doubles?
No, for two reasons. First, the jackpot contributes only a portion to
the expected value of a given lottery. The smaller, secondary prizes
also contribute, albeit not as much, to the expected value. And second,
usually when a jackpot grows in size, then so does the sales for the
given draw. As mentioned above, to calculate expected value, the
probability of winning the jackpot is multiplied times the value of the
jackpot. One must take into consideration the possibility of multiple
winners. The greater the sales, the greater the possibility there will
be multiple winners of the jackpot. For example, to calculate the
expected value of a $24 million jackpot requires the following
calculation. $24 million times the probability of a single winner, $12
million times the probability of two winners, $8 million times the
probability of 3 winners, etc, until the number of winners is so large
as to contribute almost nothing to the expected value. Fortunately, a
formula has been created to make the series of calculations relatively
So, is it correct to assume that one should only buy tickets when the expected value is relatively large?
Yes, that is correct. In general, lotteries with a fixed prize
structure have an expected value of around 50% or expressed another way
- a $1 wager has an expected value of around $0.50. Lotteries with a
prize structure that varies have expected values that range anywhere
from 25% to as much as 100%. Now, it may come as a surprise that a
lottery can have an expected value as low as 25%. Lotteries such as
Lotto 649 and Super 7 have very long odds for winning the jackpots.
When their jackpots are at the starting values of $4 million for Lotto
649 and $2.5 million for Super 7 the resulting expected values are very
low because these are relatively small jackpots given the odds of
winning them. Remember that expected value is calculated by multiplying
the value of the jackpot against the jackpot probability.
Does it matter on what day of the week the draw is held?.
Yes, in some cases. Ticket sales are higher for some days than other
days. In the case of Super 7, the draws are always held on a Friday, so
there is no comparison to be made. But in the case for Lotto 649, where
draws are held on Saturday and Wednesday, it does make a difference.
For the same size jackpot, sales are lower for a Wednesday draw than a
Saturday draw. Lower sales results in a higher expected value. Also, a
Wednesday draw on a week where the Monday was a holiday has even fewer
sales than normal for the same size jackpot. Remember, there are two
variables that effect the expected value - the size of the jackpot
(larger is better) and tickets sales (lower is better).
What have been the largest expected values to date?
The following are largest expected values to date, as of February 2007.
For the Lotto 649, under the new $2 per ticket format, the largest
expected value was 87% and occurred on the Saturday, August 4, 2004
draw. The jackpot was $29,140,524 and just under 21 million tickets
were sold for the draw.
Super 7, the largest expected value was 80% and occurred on the May 5,
2006 draw. The jackpot was $35 million and ticket sales were 25.6
million. In second place was an expected value of 75% which occurred on
the August 27, 2004 draw. The jackpot was $26,879,379 and ticket sales
were $20.3 million. These last two examples illustrate the normal
pattern. As jackpots group, so do ticket sales, but not in the same
proportion. The $35 million jackpot was 30% larger than the $26.9
million jackpot but sales only increased by 26%.
What is better, playing quick picks or picking your own numbers?
It is better to pick your own numbers rather than use quick picks, if
and only if you know which numbers to avoid playing. If you do not know
which numbers to avoid playing or you tend to pick number patterns when
selecting numbers, then you are better off playing quick picks. Humans
tend to pick number patterns when selecting lottery numbers even when
trying to pick seemingly random numbers.
Which tickets are more likely to win, quick pick tickets or tickets with player selected numbers?
There is no difference in probabilities between quick pick tickets and
tickets with player selected numbers. All number combinations have
identical probability of winning. This is also why, as stated in an
earlier answer, that there is no value in attempting to predict lottery
numbers. All tickets have the same probability of winning. Lottery
draws are random.
But I heard that quick pick tickets win more often. Therefore are not quick pick tickets better?
The reason quick pick tickets win more often is because most tickets
are quick picks. Approximately 70% of all lottery tickets are quick
picks and 70% of draws are won with quick picks. There is no difference
in the probability of winning between quick pick tickets and tickets
with player selected numbers.
Why is it recommended to pick your own numbers?
One should pick one's own numbers when playing the lottery because some
numbers and number combinations should be avoided. They should be
avoided because they are popular with many players. Playing popular
numbers and number combinations causes prizes to be split. In the case
of the jackpot, the difference can be between a single ticket winning a
$20 million jackpot and 10 tickets splitting the same jackpot. When
playing in a group, multiple jackpot winners is something to avoid.
Mario's Lottery Groups avoids playing popular numbers and number
combinations to maximize the probability of not having to share the
jackpot prize with other winning tickets. This strategy also works with
the lower tier pari-mutuel prizes. For example, the match 4 prize of
Lotto 649 is an average of $70 but varies between $38 and $100
depending if the winning numbers were played by many people. The match
5 prize of Lotto 649 is an average of $2,000 but varies between $800
and $3,000. Whenever Mario's Lottery Group won a match 5 or match 4
prize in Lotto 649, the prize was larger than average because popular
numbers and number combinations were not played.
How was it determined what numbers and number combinations are played more often?
By comparing the pari-mutuel prize payouts to the various winning
numbers over the past 10 years worth of draws, it was determined what
number combinations are played more often and which ones are played
How popular are some number combinations?
On the October 26, 2005, draw of Lotto 649, the jackpot reached a
record $54 million. Some of the more popular number combinations were
each played approximately 12,000 times across Canada. Had you played
one of those combinations and they turned out to be the winning numbers
then you would have shared the jackpot with 11,999 other players. The
jackpot prize would have been approximately $4,500.
What is a jackpot deflator rule?
A predetermined formula is used to calculate how much money from ticket
sales is used to fund the jackpot. When a jackpot reaches a certain
large level, some lottery companies decrease the amount of money used
to fund the jackpot in order to decrease the growth of the jackpot. The
decreased amount is used to fund the lower tier prizes. This rule is
called the jackpot deflator rule. With the deflator rule, the same
total amount of money is paid out in prizes, it is only distributed
differently. Currently the Canadian Lotto 649 and the US Powerball
lotteries use this type of rule.
Why do lotteries use a jackpot deflator rule?
One the biggest concerns for lottery companies is jackpot fatigue.
Jackpot fatigue is when lottery players get so used to large jackpots
that they no longer are considered exciting and big news. Jackpot
fatigue causes sales to not increase as dramatically as in the past
when large jackpots occur. Lottery companies depend upon large jackpots
to increase sales, attract new players and generate millions of dollars
of free advertising through stories in the press. This is where the
deflator rule comes in. Lottery companies want big jackpots but not so
big that they become difficult to repeat on a regular basis. So when a
jackpot reaches a certain large size, the lottery company begins to
limit the growth of the jackpot using the deflator rule.
Is the jackpot deflator rule a good idea for the players?
Yes, for two reasons. One, when more money is moved to lower tier
prizes from the jackpot prize, the expected value increases. This is
mainly due to the fact that the jackpot is not necessarily paid out on
any given draw but the lower tier prizes are. And two, because the
deflator rule is meant to prevent jackpot fatigue. Jackpot fatigue is
bad for players because of what the lottery companies do to combat it.
What do lottery companies do to combat jackpot fatigue?
The lottery companies create larger and larger jackpots. If players are
no longer excited about $30 million jackpots, then $40 and $50 million
jackpots are generated. Larger jackpots are created in one of two ways.
One, creating longer odds causing the jackpot to roll several times
before being won. Two, increasing the price of the tickets. Both
options are bad for players. In the case of the US Mega Millions, the
jackpot odds were increased to an astronomical 176 million to one in
order to create large jackpots. For the Canadian Lotto 649, the ticket
prize was increased to $2 in June 2004.