Richard Lustig: A Winning Method, Lucky, or Momentum Player?

For those die-hard Florida Lottery players who follow winners' stories or new lottery methods, Richard Lustig's name is inescapable.  The multi-winning Florida Lottery player has drawn more media attention than any one else in Florida.  Just recently, he made an appearance on the Rachel Ray show, and has a long list of appearances on other television shows and news stories over the past few years.
 
Mr. Lustig claims to have a winning method during his interviews, and is currently selling a 40 page "book" for $40.  However, online lottery social forums are full of disappointed postings and comments from those who claim to have purchased his book.  So does all of his media attention deserve merit?

WINNING METHOD?

The three main techniques that Richard Lustig repeatedly discloses during his interviews are critiqued below:

Lustig Tip #1:  Keep your losing tickets for a tax deduction against winning tickets.

This is sage advice, but you should keep ALL of your tickets, including the winners, not just the losing ones for tax purposes in order to be honest with the I.R.S.  Lustig's advice also explains why he is more likely a momentum lottery player as explained below.

Lustig Tip #2:  Do not use Quick Picks, play your lucky numbers over and over again.

Quick Pick numbers are statistically just as likely to be drawn as self-picked numbers.  The only (but very highly unlikely) risk that you run is that the Quick Pick chooses the exact same numbers twice when you purchase multiple tickets for a single drawing.  

As for playing your numbers over and over again each week - this is mathematical nonsense.  

Did you know that your odds of winning grow substantially if you played a large amount once a year on a single drawing rather than playing your "lucky numbers" every week?

For those who could not stand their statistics class, here is a simplified example (but also holds true for larger odds on a diminishing sliding scale) of why you should play once a year instead of weekly:

Say there is a six-sided die.  You have three dollars to gamble.  There are six spaces numbered that correspond with the numbers on the die.  You can either place all three dollars down on three different numbers for one roll of the die or place one dollar down on one number for three separate weekly rolls of the die.  Which are the better odds?

Well, if you place three dollars down on three different numbers for one role of the die, your odds of losing are 3 out of 6 which equals a 50%  chance of losing and a 50% chance of winning.

If you place one dollar down on one number for three rolls of the die, your odds of losing are 5 out of 6 [roll 1] times 5 out of 6 [roll 2] times 5 out of 6 [roll 3], or:

5/6 x 5/6 x 5/6 =  125/216 or a 57.87% chance of losing and a 42.12% chance of winning.

Which "method" holds the better odds?

Lustig Tip #3:  Play one scratch-off game repeatedly at a time.

There is an extremely slight statistical advantage that supports this advice, but does not deserve lengthy mathematical discussion.  In summary, it is theoretically possible to continue playing different games and never winning into the quintillion-plus attempts.

However, you would be better off hanging out at a Florida Lottery District Office where those method players buy a long string of tickets at a time while waiting to claim their prize after signing in (there is always one or two of them in the office on any given day.)

If they go through a string of scratch-offs without returning to the window to claim a prize, buy the next ticket in that string (but don't scratch it off immediately.)  Even if you do not win, the anxiety displayed by the person sitting next to you who just bought a string of  losing tickets is entertainment enough to pass the time until their name is called.

Although anecdotal, the self-described momentum player and contributor to this article (who wishes to remain anonymous, but is frustrated by Mr. Lustig's advice and felt like speaking out) won $100 on a $20 ticket and $60 on a $20 ticket the last two times he was at a Florida Lottery District Office to claim a prize by buying the ticket after a  "method" player purchased a losing string of tickets.

IS RICHARD LUSTIG JUST PLAIN LUCKY?

In the beginning,  yes.  He has made no claims that his early winnings were the result of a "method."  Luck is what you need to become a momentum player.

IS RICHARD LUSTIG A MOMENTUM PLAYER?

More than likely.  A momentum player is someone who wins a taxable lottery prize and realizes the tax benefits of continuing to play.

When someone who has not won a taxable prize plays the lottery, their out-of-pocket cost is $1 per ticket.  

Generally, the Florida Lottery Games have a net tax and odds in-pocket-reward of around 17%-48% per ticket, depending on the game played.  So each time a ticket is purchased, the real fair market value of that purchased ticket is only around 17 cents to 48 cents.

When someone who has won a taxable lottery prize plays the lottery with a tax deductible ticket, their realized cost per ticket drops to anywhere from $.92 to $.51 depending on the amount of their winnings, other income, deductions, and state of residency.

As a result, the realized in/out-of-pocket risk/reward spread narrows considerably for taxable lottery winners who turn into momentum players.

SO HOW DO I BECOME A MOMENTUM PLAYER?

Here is some free advice from a self-described momentum player that will not cost you $40.

1.  Play annually rather than weekly to increase your chance of winning.

2. When your annual date arrives, and you are playing with over $1,000, wait for either the Florida Lotto Jackpot to reach $25 million or Mega Money to reach $2 million.  If you are playing with less than $1,000 annually, play Fantasy Five or Play 4 on your annual date.  This will increase your chances of winning and becoming a momentum player.

3. DO NOT make your annual date in November or December.  This is because the financial and legal professionals that you will need vacation during that time.  

Also, two months before the end of the tax year gives you little time to restructure your financial life in a beneficial way for upcoming taxes.  

Most importantly, you really do not want to run in extended family over the holidays while you think you are flush with cash before you have had a chance to put a financial plan in place.

4. O.K., I followed steps 1-3.  It worked out for me, and I won.  What do I do next to become a momentum lottery player?  

Keep repeating the below steps as you winnings grow:

All of the below GENERAL guidelines depend on your financial circumstances, consult your financial adviser, accountant, and/or lawyer before taking the suggested action:

Wait until the Mega Money jackpot reaches $2 Million, Florida Lotto jackpot reaches at least $25 Million, or Power Ball jackpot reaches at least $150 Million if your criteria listed below requires you to play those games.

The amounts listed below are lump-sum amounts, not the annuity jackpots publicized by the Florida Lottery:
If you win less than $5,000, play $500 all on one drawing on Fantasy Five. 

If you win more than $5,000 but less than $10,000, play $1,000 on one drawing on Fantasy Five.

If you win more than $10,000 but less than $25,000, play $2,000 on one drawing on Mega Money.

If you win more than $25,000 but less than $50,000, play $5,000 on one drawing on Mega Money.

If you win more than $50,000 but less than $75,000, play $7,000 on one drawing on Mega Money.

If you win more than $75,000 but less than $150,000, play $11,000 on one drawing on Mega Money.

If you win more than $150,000 but less than $500,000, play $25,000 on one drawing on Mega Money.

If you win more than $500,000 but less than $2,000,000, play $75,000 on one drawing on Florida Lotto.

If you win more than $2 Million but less than $5 Million, play $150,000 on one drawing on Florida Lotto.

If you win more than $5 Million, but less than $15 Million, play $500,000 on one drawing on Power Ball.

If you win more than $15 Million, but less than $60 Million, play $2 Million on one drawing on Power Ball.

If you win more than $60 Million, you've made it and would not be reading this article unless the I.R.S. and your family sucked you dry.