Best Strategies to Win Scratch Off Lottery Tickets

Best Strategies to Win Scratch Off Lottery Tickets

There are dozens of scratcher games from which to choose, so it can become very confusing! Selecting the best scratch-off lottery game is a difficult task for both new players and seasoned ones alike. I will cover some strategies to select the best games and maximize your odds of making money with scratchers. 

The Scratch-off lottery is a fun way to try your luck at a few extra bucks. Sometimes, the prize pool can be a life-changing amount of money! While the game is one of odds, there are ways to increase your own chances of making a profit.

Do not Settle for Cheap Scratchers

Do not Settle for Cheap Scratchers

It can be very tempting to pick the cheapest cards. However, there is a reason they are so cheap! These cards have the lowest prize pools. 

If you want to play the lottery, save your money and strategize which high-quality ticket to buy. The more expensive tickets will give you better returns if you win. 

More expensive tickets also tend to be less popular. I recommend buying these tickets because it will be easier for you to control how many you are able to buy without someone interfering. 

Buy your Scratchers in Bulk

Buy your Scratchers in Bulk

Each scratcher represents one entry into the lottery. If you have more entries, you are more likely to win. 

Each game has a certain number of guaranteed winners, so buying in bulk will increase your odds of being one of those lucky players. 

Furthermore, the bulk strategy works only if you are buying the same game. Somewhere in the long roll of tickets at the store, there is a winner. Your odds slowly get better with every losing ticket.

If you switch between games with every ticket, your odds are not increasing by much at all. Be sure to stick to your game.

Some games offer guaranteed winners in packs of 30 or 40 tickets. You can make sure you win by buying them in this number. However, having a winner does not mean you will always make a profit. It is possible to spend a hundred dollars on tickets and get a winner only worth twenty dollars.

Research the Scratchers Before Choosing 

Research the Scratchers Before Choosing

Different tickets will have different odds of winning. Everyone has their own level of risk tolerance, so it is wise to investigate and make sure you understand what your odds will be. 

I recommend picking the ticket with the highest odds of you winning. Every ticket has the odds written on the back. The odds are written in a ratio format, such as 1 to 5 or 1 to 20. 

Be aware, these odds do not simply mean that buying five or twenty cards respectively will give you a winner. Rather, that number ratio shows the percentage across the total number of tickets made. 

According to academic statistics theory, the more you buy, the closer your results will get to that stated ratio. 

If you are unsure how to find the odds, or if the tickets are behind a counter and you cannot see them, simply ask the attendant and they can find it. 

Think about the prize values and the odds of winning. Target a game that has a good odds-to-prize ratio. You want to find the ticket with the highest odds for the highest prize value.

Check if There Have Already Been Big Winners

Check if There Have Already Been Big Winners in Scratchers

There is a limited amount of money in the lottery prize pool. If the biggest prizes have already been claimed, then you will only be competing for smaller prizes.

Your state’s website lists the remaining prizes and odds. I recommend researching different lottery games on your state’s website to pick the right game for you to play. 

The state website will be updated periodically. Try the game of your choice shortly after the website has been updated so that you have the newest and most updated information. 

Keep Your Losing Ticket

Keep Your Losing Schratch Ticket

Sometimes, even losing tickets get a second chance at life. 

Occasionally, games will run a second game for previously losing tickets. This secondary prize pool is likely not as large, but it can still be a good way to cash in on your ticket. 

You can keep track of these second-chance games on your state’s lottery website. 

Many states have convenient methods to enter second-chance lotteries these days. For example, in Oregon, you can scan losing tickets with your phone. After scanning, the ticket will be automatically entered into a second contest. 

Other states also have secondary ticket lotteries. Usually, each dollar spent on a ticket equals an entry into the second chance drawing. For example, a ticket that costs five dollars is worth five entries into the second chance lottery. 

Second chances usually have entry limits, such as California’s 500 monthly entry limit. 

Most states hold weekly drawings for their second chance ticket contest. So if you are a weekly buyer, be sure to keep track of the weekly drawings. States also have online accounts that allow you to track all your tickets. 

Winners are also notified via email. 

Secondary prizes tend to vary more than the primary scratcher prizes. Secondary prizes may come in the form of tangible goods or experiences. For example, the Virginia Lottery’s secondary scratcher prizes have been tickets to concerts, vacations to tropical locations, and gift cards for home improvement. 

You can find the code for the second entry on your ticket. Each scratcher has a unique code. 

Always Scan your Losing Tickets

Always Scan your Losing Lottery Tickets

Our eyes are not perfect. Sometimes we may miss something on our ticket! Even if your ticket appears to be a losing one, always take it to the counter and have them scan it for you. Don’t get discouraged!

Even if you have losing tickets, take them into the store and get them scanned. You never know if maybe some winnings were hiding under your nose. 

Some of the biggest winning games can be a little complicated. Always double-check and scan your losing tickets to make sure that no mistakes were made. 

Singleton Method

Singleton Method lottery ticket

A classic strategy used by experienced scratch card players is called the “Singleton method.”

The basic summary of this method involves looking for patterns in the visible numbers on the card. However, most manufacturers have taken steps to prevent the effectiveness of this method in modern tickets.

A strategy to massively increase the player’s odds was devised by Mohan Srivastava, a geological statistician in Toronto. 

Srivastava, bored one day, decided to give a hand at scratch-off tickets. He proposed that there must be a pattern that could be followed, as the factories had to control randomness in the rolls of tickets. 

Srivastava noticed that the winning tickets seemed to rely on the frequency of single numbers, called singletons. He determined that it is possible to vastly increase the odds of winning by targeting tickets with rows of single numbers.

In more detail, here is how the singleton method works:

    Tic-Tac-Toe style cards display grids of numbers. In order to win, you must scratch off a list of numbers and see if you made a row.

    To use this method, look at your selection of cards. On the grid, count how many instances of each number occur. If there is a row where each number only occurs once out of all the tic-tac-toe grids, then it is nearly guaranteed a winner. 

Luckily, some specific lotteries have not patched the Singleton method, so you may still be able to put it to use. Manufacturers have not fixed this issue because there simply is not an easy solution. In order to run a successful game, they must artificially control randomness. 

Because this strategy relies on visible numbers, it only works on extended play games. You must also be able to see the front of the card before you buy, so the locations that you can use it at are very limited. 

Additionally, there is no indication of how much you will actually win. It is possible to spend an hour finding the perfect winning ticket with the singleton method, only to find that you won a few bucks. 

Srivastava determined it wasn’t worth his time and alerted the manufacturers of scratch off tickets. However, there is no good solution to the pattern and therefore many manufactures changed nothing. 

Even if pursuing this strategy was not with Srivastava’s time, it could be worth yours. If you are able to purchase extended play games that allow you to see each ticket, try out your luck with the singleton method!

Stagger Your Plays When Needed

Stagger Your Plays When Needed with lottery scratchers

Winning lottery tickets are almost never consecutive in the roll at the store.

 If you win, you should wait a few days before playing again. I also recommend switching to a different game, as different games are not interdependent. 

You may also choose to go to a different store. Going to a different store is a good strategy if you want to keep playing that particular game.  Each store’s rolls have independent odds, so it possible for you to win at each store with the same game. 

Be Patient 

Be Patient Scratch Off Lottery Tickets

The lottery is a game of attrition. Many players are adamant that the best way to win is to pick a game and stick to it. 

It is easy to lose your mind trying to keep switching games. Instead of going crazy keeping up with a dozen different games, keep track of just one or a couple. 

If your favorite game was won by a competitor, just switch over to a new favorite game. 

With every ticket, the odds of winning go up if you stay with the same game. 

Find and Play Newer Games

Find and Play Newer Games Scratch Off Lottery Tickets

The longer a game has been on the market, the more likely someone has already cashed in on the biggest prizes. 

If a game is brand new, it is more than likely that none of the great prizes have been claimed. You can also double-check the winners on your state lottery website. 

Keep an eye on lottery news and see when new scratcher contests are announced. It is wise to research what the odds and prize pools of these new contests are so that you can swiftly act upon the ones that have the best chance of profit. 

Try to be first in line for the newest games and pick off the best prizes early. 

Do not Fall for Promotional Packaged Scratchers

Do not Fall for Promotional Packaged Scratchers Scratch Off Lottery Tickets

Sometimes retailers try to sell mystery packs of scratchers. These are bundles of their unwanted scratchers. The store is struggling to sell them and creates clever packs at a nice price to sell to customers. This is a perfectly legal way to sell off nearly unwinnable leftover tickets to unknown customers.

These scratchers are unwanted for a reason. They are old stock. Old stock means that the tickets are not likely to win anymore. 

The odds of winning with these tickets have become very low because they used to be popular and all the good tickets were claimed. 

I do not recommend buying these bundles because the old tickets likely have almost no big prizes left in their pool. They are unwanted and unsold because the big prizes have already been claimed.

Choose the Right Store

Choose the Right Store for scratch Off Lottery Tickets

Busy stores get a lot of foot traffic. All this crowd means that more people are buying up lottery tickets. There is a limited number of winning tickets per roll at each store. As such, high traffic stores may run out of winning tickets very quickly. On the other hand, it may be easier to loiter and watch for losing streaks and time your strike at these busier stores.

If you want to optimize your chances and buy your tickets in bulk, you should target less popular stores. By hoarding the scratchers to yourself, you can more easily strategize which games you play. 

If you choose a less crowded store, you can also get to know the cashiers better. Befriending cashiers is a good way to gather insider information. They know which games have already had a lot of winners and which ones are due for a winner soon. 

The advantage of busy stores is that you can capitalize on following other people’s losing streaks. You should think about your own playing preferences and choose a store in accordance to the way you like to play. 

Get to Know Your Store

Get to Know Your Store Do not Fall for scratch Off Lottery Tickets

Similar to slot machines at a casino, some people like to wait around and look for losing streaks. They claim that when there is a long losing streak, it is the perfect time to strike and pull a big winning ticket. 

You can also do some investigation by talking to the store clerks. You should ask about which games have been winning lately. 

If the clerk mentions a game that has not had any winners yet, I recommend trying that ticket. If there is a game that has already had many winners, avoid that scratcher. If there have already been many winners, then there probably are not many winning tickets remaining. 

Watch for Lurkers 

Many people strategize playing the lottery. You may see regulars loitering around the sale counter. These people are your competitors, so you should be careful playing around them.

You can plan your purchase by watching what they are playing and if they are winning. If the person in front of you just won a prize with a specific scratcher, I recommend choosing a different game for yourself. It is not likely that winning tickets will be back-to-back. 

You might run into problems with lurkers trying to jump in front of you when they think they can steal your win. To avoid this, you can visit stores that are less busy. You can also employ poker strategies and control your emotions, so they do not know when you win and lose.

Be Wary of Public Lottery Fever

Every so often, a particular game begins to make big news. As a prize pool grows, news outlets may cover the game. 

News coverage leads to increased demand for the popular tickets. As millions rush to buy the tickets, your odds will go down. 

If everyone is rushing to buy a certain game, you should find a different scratcher to play. Since people aren’t buying this second scratcher, you can maximize your odds of winning. 

Follow the Ticket Roll Number 

In many states, each ticket on the roll has a number associated with it. This number typically starts at 000 and counts upward as tickets are sold. 

The smaller the number, the more likely a winner is still in the roll. 

You can ask the seller what number was just sold. You can also ask if there has been a winner yet. If there has not been a winner and the number is low, you should consider buying a series of tickets in that particular game. 

Syndicate with Trusted Friends

Syndicate with Trusted Friends Scratch Off Lottery Tickets

Buying many lottery tickets will increase your chances of winning, but it will also cost a great deal of money. The costs of tickets quickly add up if you are buying high quality scratchers, especially. 

Financial risks can be mitigated, and odds maximized by creating a syndicate. 

A syndicate is a group of trusted people who consolidate their purchases so that the costs and profits are both split. The syndicate method allows both risks and odds to be averaged out. 

Remember, the best tickets to buy are the most expensive ones. You might not want to regularly spend the money associated with high price tickets. To still be able to buy the best tickets without running your wallet dry, you can create a syndicate. 

To create a syndicate, gather a group of a few trusted friends. For every ticket, split the costs. Spreading out costs means that it is easier to buy the highest quality tickets. 

For example, if the best tickets are $20 and you are part of a four-person syndicate, then everyone will pay $5 into buying the ticket. If the ticket wins $1 million, then everyone gets $250,000. 

Of course, this means your winnings will be lower. However, splitting a million dollars four ways is still a great deal of money for every member. 

It is integral that the people in this syndicate are trustworthy. It would be heartbreaking to have someone run away with all of the money. It is important that everyone partakes in the process to ensure nobody sneaks away with the winnings. 

Quit While You Are Ahead 

There is a limited number of winning tickets. If you have a lucky ticket and win a good amount of money, stop playing that game for a while and let the tickets reset.

It is incredibly unlikely that winning tickets will be back-to-back. If you just won a prize, you should take a break or switch games. 

If you still want to play and win more tickets, come back a different day, after the store has refreshed the stock with new winners. 

If you won a very large prize, you should not play the same game a second time. The odds of the next large prize are now lower. Rather, you should play a different game that still has unclaimed large prizes. 

Buy an Entire Roll

Buy an Entire Roll Choose the Right Store for scratch Off Lottery Tickets

It is possible to buy an entire roll of lottery tickets. These rolls include a massive number of tickets.

Buying an entire roll can be very expensive, but the odds of finding at least one winner are very high. Most rolls cost several hundred dollars. 

If you plan to do this strategy, make sure you do your due diligence and research the odds of that particular game. Do not buy a full roll of tickets if the game has already had big jackpots claimed. Only buy full rolls of new games and those that still have all the best prizes remaining. 

Maintain a Responsible Budget 

Remember, no matter how many strategies you apply, the lottery is gambling. It is crucial to gamble responsibly. 

It is important to set a budget and not gamble away the money that you need. Always make sure your bills and life needs are taken care of before you have fun with extra cash. I always recommend sticking to buying in cash so that you can easily manage how much money you are spending. 

Have fun responsibly and good luck! 


In the end, while scratchers are always a game of luck and chance, there are methods to maximize your odds of winning. The most common and successful strategies include selecting the right store, examining the odds of each game, the singleton method, and syndication. 

It is important to stick to your budget and play responsibility. 

Good luck and happy scratching!

Author: Mark Hayes