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Lottery wheeling (also known as lottery system, lottery wheel, lottery wheeling system) is an entertaining strategy of playing the lotteries, widely used by individual players and syndicates to secure wins provided they hit some of the drawn numbers. It allows playing with more than one ticket and more numbers than those drawn in the lottery. If the lottery is pick 6, then a wheeling system can be used in playing with 7 or more numbers. If the lottery is pick 5, then a wheeling system can be used in playing with 6 or more numbers. For example, in a pick 5 lottery, a lottery system can have 9 numbers and a guarantee of 3 if 3, meaning that the player will get a 3-win whenever three of his/her 9 numbers are among the five numbers drawn. In a pick 6 lottery, an example will be a system with, say, 12 numbers and a guarantee of 4 if 5, meaning that the player will get a 4-win whenever five of his/her 12 numbers are among the six numbers drawn. A lottery wheeling system acts as a single ticket in terms of a particular guarantee, but it allows playing with a set of numbers of size larger than the size of the set of numbers drawn in the lottery. For instance, a single ticket in a pick 6 lottery guarantees a 4-win if four of the player's numbers are drawn. A lottery system with, say, 10 numbers and the same guarantee would require at least 20 tickets to be played, so it will be a well-structured set of 20 tickets, giving the same guarantee, that is, a 4-win if 4 of the player's 10 numbers are drawn. Wheeling systems allow the players to play as many numbers as they wish in a well-organized and balanced way. The term "wheeling" comes from the way some systems are constructed; it is a reference to their cyclic nature. This could be illustrated on the following simple wheel construction example, a pick 6, 9 numbers, 4 if 5 guarantee system in 3 combinations, played on the numbers 1-9 (the player can substitute any 9 numbers instead).
1. | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 |
2. | 1 | 2 | 3 | 7 | 8 | 9 |
3. | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 |
It can be observed that this wheeling system has three groups of numbers, A = 1 2 3, B = 4 5 6, and C = 7 8 9, and the tickets are formed by the cyclic shifts of the grouping AB (the first ticket); the other two are BC and CA (tickets 3 and 2 respectively). It is easy to check that if any 5 of the 9 numbers are drawn, then there will be at least one ticket with 4 of the numbers in it, thereby providing the stated guarantee of a 4-win if 5 of the 9 numbers are drawn. The checking can be done by looking at the possible distributions of the 5 numbers drawn among the three groups, and observing that there are always two groups that contain either all 5 or 4 of the 5 numbers drawn. Since any two groups are combined in a ticket, there will always be a 4-win or a 5-win, that is, the minimum guarantee is as stated. Difficulties greatly increase in constructing systems with more numbers and combinations. In mathematics, the study of these objects falls within the branch of combinatorial design.
Players are usually interested to have a certain guarantee in the minimum possible (or minimum known) number of tickets. A lottery wheeling system has a basic guarantee (as in the examples above), but it also has other, secondary guarantees, which can be observed from the table of wins for the system, as described in works of the popular lotto systems researcher, professor Bluskov.^{[1]}^{[2]}
The probability of hitting the jackpot varies between the different lotteries. The popular US lotteries have odds ranging from the astronomical 1 in about 258.91 million in the double pick multi-state lottery Mega Millions to the fairly good 1 in about 170 thousands in the pick 5, 31 number, Wisconsin Lottery Badger 5. Wheeling systems are usually intended to provide a minimum guaranteed number of wins if some of the drawn numbers are captured in the set of the player's numbers. Lottery Wheels were introduced in the 1970s and have, over time, become a popular method of playing. Several "spin off" methods have since become popular, with mixed acceptance.
From a mathematical standpoint 'wheeling' has no impact, positive or negative, on the expected value of any given ticket. However, playing a lottery system has impact on the way wins are distributed over time. Playing a system gives steadier stream of wins compared to the same size collection of tickets with randomly chosen numbers on the same set. As an extreme example, there is a system for the pick 6 6/49 game which always guarantees a 3-win in 163 combinations.^{[3]} (In fact, this system gives three 3-wins on average, but this is irrelevant for the discussion here). Playing such system will always guarantee a small return of at least one 3-win, while playing 163 random combinations on all of the 49 numbers of the lottery will not guarantee anything. In fact, playing 163 random combinations could yield zero return on a long stretch of consecutive draws. This distinction of lottery systems makes them an attractive strategy of playing for both individual players and syndicates.
Wheeling systems do have some value for lottery players, not in some hyped up "beat the lottery" way, but in terms of providing a steadier stream of wins compared to playing a randomly chosen selection of the same number of tickets. Getting some smaller wins while waiting for a larger one seems to be an attractive option for syndicates.^{[4]} Lottery systems are often mis-sold as a part of various lottery strategy related products, usually bundled with lottery prediction software, and various other "tools" which are supposedly "improving the odds", "guaranteeing profits", etc., generally, the type of get-rich-quick-schemes. These are often based on some mathematically incorrect assumptions and claims, Gambler's Fallacy or plain misunderstanding or misrepresentation of important probability facts; some of the claims in one of the popular books of this type, Lottery Master Guide of Gail Howard,^{[5]} are discussed in.^{[6]} A fairly exhaustive list of such products and honest reviews and criticism about each of them is compiled at.^{[7]} Another list, which includes only books, can be found at.^{[8]} Most of the available lotto strategies books can be found at Amazon.com, on search for Lotteries, or through the branching: Books › Humor & Entertainment › Puzzles & Games › Gambling › Lotteries .^{[9]}
Full Wheel includes all combinations that can be generated from a set of numbers a player picks, and therefore guarantees a first tier prize if all of the drawn numbers are within the player's set of numbers; it also guarantees a number of lower tier prizes. The only drawback with full wheels is they become fairly expensive with increasing the size of the set of the player's chosen numbers. A player who wishes to play a full wheel with 10 numbers in a pick 6 lottery game will have to play 210 combinations, while a full wheel with 15 numbers in the same lottery will require 5005 combinations!
In a famous occurrence, a Polish-Irish businessman named Stefan Klincewicz bought up 80% of the 1,947,792 combinations available at the Irish Lottery. He and his associates paid less than one million Irish pounds while the jackpot stood at 1.7 million pounds. The syndicate did have a ticket with the winning numbers. However, so did two other players, and the jackpot was split three ways. With the "Match 4" and "Match 5" prizes, though, Klincewicz's syndicate made a small profit overall.^{[10]}
An Abbreviated Wheel is an economical alternative for a Full Wheel. Although an Abbreviated Wheel does not include all possible combinations of the chosen numbers, it still guarantees at least one winning ticket if some of the numbers drawn are within the player's selection of numbers.
The following is an example of an abbreviated lottery wheeling system for pick-6 with 10 numbers, 4 if 4 guarantee and the minimum possible number of combinations for that guarantee, 20. The original system is given as 20 combinations on the numbers from 1 to 10. The next table gives a possible selection of the player’s numbers and his/her set of tickets, which are obtained after substituting the numbers 1-10 with the player’s numbers.
Numbers in the original system: | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 |
The player’s numbers (example): | 3 | 7 | 12 | 14 | 18 | 22 | 29 | 33 | 40 | 46 |
Original system | The player’s set of tickets: | ||||||||||||
1. | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 8 | 9 | 1. | 3 | 7 | 12 | 14 | 33 | 40 |
2. | 1 | 2 | 3 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 2. | 3 | 7 | 12 | 18 | 22 | 29 |
3. | 1 | 2 | 3 | 5 | 9 | 10 | 3. | 3 | 7 | 12 | 18 | 40 | 46 |
4. | 1 | 2 | 4 | 5 | 8 | 10 | 4. | 3 | 7 | 14 | 18 | 33 | 46 |
5. | 1 | 2 | 4 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 5. | 3 | 7 | 14 | 22 | 29 | 33 |
6. | 1 | 2 | 6 | 7 | 9 | 10 | 6. | 3 | 7 | 22 | 29 | 40 | 46 |
7. | 1 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 10 | 7. | 3 | 12 | 14 | 18 | 22 | 46 |
8. | 1 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 7 | 8 | 8. | 3 | 12 | 14 | 18 | 29 | 33 |
9. | 1 | 3 | 5 | 6 | 8 | 9 | 9. | 3 | 12 | 18 | 22 | 33 | 40 |
10. | 1 | 3 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 10. | 3 | 12 | 29 | 33 | 40 | 46 |
11. | 1 | 4 | 5 | 7 | 9 | 10 | 11. | 3 | 14 | 18 | 29 | 40 | 46 |
12. | 1 | 4 | 6 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 12. | 3 | 14 | 22 | 33 | 40 | 46 |
13. | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 7 | 9 | 13. | 7 | 12 | 14 | 18 | 29 | 40 |
14. | 2 | 3 | 4 | 6 | 9 | 10 | 14. | 7 | 12 | 14 | 22 | 40 | 46 |
15. | 2 | 3 | 5 | 7 | 8 | 10 | 15. | 7 | 12 | 18 | 29 | 33 | 46 |
16. | 2 | 3 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 16. | 7 | 12 | 22 | 29 | 33 | 40 |
17. | 2 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 10 | 17. | 7 | 14 | 18 | 22 | 29 | 46 |
18. | 2 | 5 | 6 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 18. | 7 | 18 | 22 | 33 | 40 | 46 |
19. | 3 | 4 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 10 | 19. | 12 | 14 | 22 | 29 | 33 | 46 |
20. | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 20. | 14 | 18 | 22 | 29 | 33 | 40 |
This example can be used to illustrate the main guarantee of the chosen system (a 4-win if four of the 10 player’s numbers are drawn): Suppose the numbers 7,12,29, and 40 are drawn (these are shaded in the player's tickets), then the system guarantees at least one 4-win, by design. Indeed, it is easy to check that this is so. In fact, in this particular case, the system gives two 4-wins (in tickets 13 and 16), and it also gives seven 3-wins (these can be found in tickets 1,2,3,6,10,14, and 15).
The number of combinations in an Abbreviated Wheel is significantly smaller than the number of combinations in a Full Wheel on the same set of numbers. In the example above, the Abbreviated Wheel for pick-6 lottery with 10 numbers and 4 if 4 guarantee has 20 tickets. A full wheel with 10 numbers requires 210 combinations and has 6 if 6 guarantee.
Lottery wheeling systems have been used by lottery players throughout the world. Full and Abbreviated Wheels are the most popular among different types of lottery wheels. Many lotteries provide the option of playing a full wheel either on a regular type of ticket or on a specially designed one without the need to fill all of the combinations individually. Several European lottery corporations have gone a step further and have provided the option of playing abbreviated wheels from a preapproved selection, by using a specially designed playing slips which refer to the chosen system by number and do not require filling the individual combinations of the system.
Filters can further reduce the number of combinations in a Full or Abbreviated Wheel, but they will generally destroy the guarantees of the wheel. For example, a filter can be set to remove combinations with all odd numbers, to balance the amount of odd and even numbers within the combination, etc.
Key Number Wheel (or a Power Number Wheel) is a wheel in which one or more numbers (key numbers or power numbers) appear in every combination of the wheel.