How Odds of Winning a Top Prize Changes Over Time

Odds of winning top prizes change over time! Sometimes the odds get better, sometimes they get worse….a lot worse!

Let’s dig into this by walking though some simple examples of how odds change over time. This requires a quick review of a few facts about scratch-off games. If you’re following our Scratch Academy path, you already learned these facts, but just to be safe, here they are with one more (RANDOM) added and explained:


  • All games are printed with a predefined number of tickets = TOTAL NUMBER OF TICKETS PRINTED.
  • All scratch-off games have a defined number of winning tickets in the printing
  • All winning tickets are RANDOMLY put into each printing.
    • Even though two games may be printed at the same time with the same odds, the prizes are never put into the printing exactly the same way. In other words, no one knows if the winning tickets are spaced out evenly throughout the printing OR if they are grouped together at the beginning of the printing or the end of the printing.

Our SECRETS go into some detail about how these facts can get manipulated by each lottery, but for this example, we’ll work with just these 4 facts.


 Let’s compare two games where everything is planned to be the same to show how RANDOM placement of prizes can change your odds of winning a TOP prize.  For these two games, the only difference is where the top prizes are in the printing. Both games have 10 top prizes randomly printed into a printing of 1000 tickets. The odds of winning any one of these top prizes on Jan 1 are 1 in 100 because, 1000 tickets printed, divided by 10 top prizes = 100.  In scratch off lottery ticket language, this is represented as 1:100, which is better translated as you have a 1 in 100 chance of winning a top prize! 


Just because the odds are 1 in 100 doesn’t mean there will always be 1 big winner in each grouping of 100 tickets.  All big prizes are RANDOMLY distributed throughout the entire printing.  All of the big prizes could be in the first 100 tickets or they could be in the LAST 100 tickets.  Heck, on a totally crazy random scenario, they could actually be the LAST 10 tickets printed out of 1000!  ITS ALL RANDOM!

The odds simply represent a simplification of the average number of tickets you would have to buy in order to win a prize.  

(and you thought you’d never use that 5th grade math, didn’t you!)

Instead of stating: “The odds of winning are 10 in 1000”, the lottery will state:

“The Odds of winning are 1 in 100”

This just sounds more enticing, doesn’t it?

Now, by tracking the prizes remaining and the tickets remaining, we can see how the odds change.

Both games go on sale on Jan 1. There are NO tickets sold when the game first goes on sale, so the comparison of the games looks like this:

Game 1Game 2
10 : 10010 : 1000
1 : 101 : 100

Both games have exactly the same odds.

Over time, the tickets start to sell at different rates. On Feb 1, game 1 has sold 200 tickets, so there are 800 tickets remaining. Game 2 has sold only 100 tickets, so there are 900 tickets remaining.   However, both games had 2 prizes claimed!   This changes the odds:

Game 1Game 2
8 : 8008 : 900
1 : 1001 : 112.5

Game 1 has slightly better odds because there are fewer tickets remaining.

A month later, on March 1, game 1 has sold a total of 600 tickets, so there are 400 tickets remaining. Game 2 has sold only 200 tickets, so there are 800 tickets remaining. Both games have 4 prizes claimed. This changes the odds even more for each game:

Game 1Game 2
6 : 4004 : 800
1 : 66.71 : 200

Game 1 has considerably better odds because there are fewer tickets remaining but the same number of top prizes.  In fact, you have a 3 times BETTER chance of winning a top prize on Game 1 than Game 2!!!

Finally, on April 1, Game 1’s ticket sales have slowed down. It has only sold 100 tickets in the last month. It’s total tickets sold = 700, so there are 300 tickets remaining. Game 2 has only sold 400 tickets, so there are 600 tickets remaining.   Both games have 4 top prizes remaining.

Game 1Game 2
6 : 3004 : 700
1 : 501 : 175

Game 1 still has considerably better odds because there are fewer tickets remaining but the same number of top prizes.

So, if you’re only looking at the top prizes remaining, you’re not Scratching Smarter.   You’re gambling your money with only one piece of the data you need to win!

Most lottery websites publish a simple list of top prizes remaining on one page. They hide all of the details on the other lottery pages. We gather all of that difficult to gather data to give you the REAL story. The story of where a Game’s odds REALLY are is based on the top prizes remaining compared to the total tickets remaining.

FACT: It’s not easy to compare all games.  

We can’t make all games the same as we did in our example above.

That’s why we borrowed the card counting method from Black Jack. In Black Jack, when you’re counting cards, it doesn’t matter how many decks of cards the dealer is using OR the cost to play at a table.

The card count evens everything out and gives the advantage to the player!!

Our SmartFactor calculation is the same as the Card Count in a blackjack game.

We track every game over time, from the time it’s first put up for sale to the ‘last day to claim’ a prize. We give you the SmartFactor rating and RANK EVERY GAME, so you don’t have to.

With ScratchSmarter’s Best Game to Play Report, the advantage is yours, every week!!

Not ready yet?  

We get it.  There is still a lot to learn…….move to the next lesson to keep getting smarter!

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