Russell Blackstock

Russell Blackstock is a senior reporter at the Herald on Sunday.

Big money far from best odds

Keep it simple and you have a better chance of taking home the money

Playing traditional Lotto is the best option, says a statistician. Photo / APN
Playing traditional Lotto is the best option, says a statistician. Photo / APN

Thinking of a flutter? Forget Powerball or Big Wednesday and focus on traditional Lotto.

Almost half the adult population buys a ticket once a month — but what game gives you the best chance of winning?

The Herald on Sunday asked Dr David Scott from Auckland University's statistics department to run the rule over the odds.

Scott suggests punters should ignore the chances of winning very large amounts with Powerball, since the odds for doing so are astronomical.

Instead he believes playing traditional Lotto is the best option.

His number crunching shows that spending $6 gives you a 1 in 64,000 chance of winning $20,000, and a 1 in 384,000 chance of pocketing more than $400,000.

For $12, you have a 1 in 32,000 chance of winning $20,000, and 1 in 192,000 of winning more than $400,000.

"By comparison, for $12 in Powerball, the odds are 1 in 639,730 for only $41,000 — much poorer odds for double the return."

Forget playing Big Wednesday too, he advised. "The odds of a prize in my target range are ridiculous, 1 in more than 2.6 million to win $87,000 for a $12 purchase.

"The odds of 1 in more than 2 million per line in Strike for a prize of over $200,000 seem fairly poor. Bullseye seems similar."


If you are to buy a ticket, go for
straightforward Lotto. It is easy to
understand, and better odds of a
realistic, worthwhile prize.

Dr David Scott, from Auckland
University's statistics department

Three games in the Lotto family are played each Saturday: Lotto, Powerball and Strike.

Each of these games has its own jackpot amount. Lotto is the base game and Powerball and Strike can both be added on — you can't play Powerball or Strike without first playing Lotto. Tonight's top prize is $6 million.

Lotto organisers admit the range of choices can be confusing.

"What we do know for sure is you can't win if you don't have a ticket," spokeswoman Kirsten Robinson said.

Scott believes most people have no real idea what the best bets are and many hand over money mainly for the thrill of taking part.

"One rule of investing is that you shouldn't invest in anything you don't understand," he said.

"If you are to buy a ticket, go for straightforward Lotto. It is easy to understand, and better odds of a realistic, worthwhile prize."


'People do actually win ... '


McCreadie's biggest win to date is $50. Photo / Michael Craig

Keeva McCreadie meets a handful of Lotto winners every week and hopes some of their good luck will rub off.

As main receptionist at the Lotto office in Auckland, the 23-year-old is often the first point of contact for punters when they strike it rich.

McCreadie is a keen player and spends $14 to $16 on a Triple Dip ticket every Saturday. "I have met people who have won anything from $1,000 to $26.2 million and it is hard not to get caught up in the excitement," she says. "When you see so many winners it encourages me to keep playing because I have seen for myself that people do actually get the money. It is not just something you see on television."

McCreadie says she goes for a Triple Dip to be in the frame for the biggest jackpots. She always chooses a lucky dip ticket and her biggest win to date is $50.

"I could choose a game with better odds, but I would be kicking myself if my numbers came up and I could have been in a game with a bigger prize-pot."

- Herald on Sunday

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