Thursday, 29th June, 2017

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# Scratch Cards Odds & House Advantage

Certainly, the quickest way to possibly win a little bit of extra cash is to purchase a scratch off card at the local convenience shop. It takes only seconds to purchase a card and then scratch off the top to see if there are any winning prizes lying underneath-it is as close as gambling will come to instant gratification. Yet what are the odds of actually winning? How can a player make smart scratch off purchases that at least increase the chances of them winning? An in depth look into scratching off a winning card is as follows:

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## Understanding The Type Of Odds Scratch Offs Have

What makes scratch offs a lower risk than say, tossing a coin? The answer lies within the types of odds each game has. When a player bets on a coin toss or a craps game, they are betting on a game that runs off of an independent variable-which is the physical task of tossing the coin. No matter how many times a player flips a coin, the probability of the results (either heads or tails) remains the same. While the odds of winning the coin toss are pretty attractive at 50/50, that probability will stay stagnant no matter the results before or after the current coin toss.

Scratch off cards, however, run off of a different odds system. Scratch offs are based off of a fixed odds system, or what is referred to in statistics as “conditional probability.” Controlled probability means that the probability factor changes based off of what was previously played before the current game. Each scratch off series has two major components to them: a set number of cards printed and a set number of prizes to be distributed, which means that your odds change based on how many cards have been purchased and prizes have been claimed. So a player could theoretically buy ten of the same scratch off cards and know their odds of winning a cash prize depending on whether or not they have come across a winning ticket. So while a coin toss looks as if it has favorable chances (one out of two), a player are actually better off in statistically purchasing five scratch offs that advertise “one out of every five is a cash winner” because the odds are fixed and are not relying off of an independent variable.

## How The Odds Are In The House’s Favor

Scratch off cards may have fixed odds, which are good for the potential player, but the odds generally always favor the house. Because the odds are fixed, the house all ready knows how much it will ultimately have to pay out, therefore is not afraid of losing unexpectedly. This is not the case for the player, in which every game is a risk.

Another odd in the house’s favour is the sale of every ticket. Once the large prizes are collected, the house can still sell the rest of the tickets, even if they know there will be no more cash prizes handed out to potential players. This ensures a profit for the house, and yet again cuts out any unexpected loss for the house. The house also does not have to report that there are no remaining prizes, just report which ones have been claimed. It is up to the player to make sure they are not buying a ticket that most certainly will be a dud.

## How To Tip The Odds Of Scratch Offs In A Player’s Favor

### 1. Use the Internet to determine what prizes have been claimed.

The first tip in trying to increase a player’s odds at a scratch off game requires a little bit of research. As stated above, scratch off cards have fixed odds, and the lotto office determines exactly how many of each cash prize gets distributed before the scratch off card becomes available-after all, it is a business and the lotto office does not want to actually lose money. Because of this, winnings that are reported are uploaded to a website or server so that the lotto office can keep track of how many prizes have been claimed. This gives the player the advantage of knowing what cash prizes are possibly available and that can get factored into the odds later when the ticket is received. The flaw in this research ability is that there is no guarantee that any previous prize winners have claimed their reward. The information could show that none of the prizes have been claimed, while there are three tickets that have been sold and are just sitting in someone’s car or desk, forgotten. Therefore, it is best to use this information to determine probability based on what actually has been claimed.

### 2. Always read the “Odds of Winning” on the cards.

The next tip is to read the back of the scratch offs before purchasing (if possible) to determine the odds of winning. Each scratch off has the odds of the specific game printed on the back of them, which can give the player valuable information as to which specific game they want to play. Some scratch off cards can be very inexpensive (around \$1 to \$2) per ticket, but have lower odds of wining compared to their more expensive counterparts (there are tickets that also range from \$5 to \$20). However, it is always best to read the scratch off cards before buying them-sometimes the more expensive ones are not the best choice and a comparison is needed.

### 3. Hold onto losing cards in case of another drawing.

Occasionally, the lotto office will have a scratch off card’s largest prizes claimed early, and to attract more potential players into buying the remainder of the stock they will offer a “second chance drawing.” This means that the player gets a chance at actually winning something substantial, and that the house sells out the rest of their printed scratch offs. While it is something to keep in the back of the player’s mind, it is not the safest course of action to bet that this will happen, as it is really up to the lotto office’s discretion if they want to give out more prizes. Generally, if the scratch off card’s biggest prizes have been claimed within the first month or so of the game’s release, then it is a safer bet to save losing cards.

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