Detailed odds are the exact chances of winning a specific prize. Since all scratch-off games are preprinted, the lottery has to set the odds for different prize levels into the printing.
Why does this matter? Detailed odds are a critical piece to really understanding scratch off games. Unlike the “Overall Odds” page which represents the overall odds concept with different colored marbles in a bag, detailed odds are much more complex. Detailed odds are where the real variation happens when the lottery is creating and launching new games. We can explain detailed odds best by working with a real example from a $30 game that was for sale in the Florida lottery.
If you’ve ever dug into your lottery’s website you’ve probably seen a chart like this:
Charts like this are mind-numbing. Yes, it’s easy to spot the overall odds at the bottom, the overall odds of winning a prize was posted as 1:2.93, meaning 1 in every 2.93 tickets should be a winner. BUT, when you look at the detailed prize odds above that – where it displays the odds of winning a specific prize…..that ends up just being “data” to almost everyone reading it.
Most people just glazes over and ignore it because its difficult for our minds to grasp the odds of winning that top prize where the odds are 1 in 11,701,050. If you’re like 99% of the population who MIGHT look at the chart above, you’ll only look at the top prize amounts (in this example = $15,000,000) and MAYBE the total prizes available, only 4 top prizes for this game.
These charts are INTENTIONALLY printed to be boring and ignored. The state has to print them, but they do it in the worst way possible. They’re printed this way to display the facts, but obscure any meaningful way to analyze the games. Unless you’re a human calculator, reading these charts means nothing.
Instead, it would be easier to represent these odds in a graphic to display the proportionate number of tickets relative to each other. We’re coming up with some tools to help show these proportions better. Until we have these developed, we created this video to represent the proportions of a top prize on a typical game:
Why does this matter?
The detailed odds of winning a top prize changes over time. Proportionately, all games have about 80 to 90% of the prizes in the BOTTOM grouping of prizes. This allows the Overall Odds to remain consistent until the game is pulled from circulation. BUT the odds of winning one of the top prizes changes drastically based on 2 things: total number of tickets sold and the number of top prizes remaining!
Yes – the odds of winning one of the top prizes where the odds started at 1 in 11,701,050 might get better or worse the longer this game is for sale. There are times when all of the top prizes have been claimed but the lottery keeps selling the tickets. You think you’re spending $30 for a chance to win $15,000,000 but they’re aren’t any of those prizes left. Another scenario is that 4 top prizes remain unclaimed but more that or 75% of those tickets have been sold. In this case, the odds of winning that top prize are MUCH BETTER IN YOUR FAVOR!
SO WHATS THE POINT?
The lottery sells you on the chance of winning the top prize, but they NEVER UPDATE THE DETAILED ODDS FOR THE TOP PRIZE!
If you’re a Smart Scratch-off player who wants to win a top prize, you need to incorporate the changing odds for top prizes into your ticket buying strategy!
If you want to learn how to get the updated odds for a top prize, keep going through our Scratch Academy to learn more! We’ll show you how to calculate the changing odds but there are a few other things about Scratch-off Games you need to know first!