As you should know, the Pick-3 return on investment is expected to be half the amount wagered. The odds are 1,000 to 1 and the state expects you to wager $1,000.00 for every $500.00 you win in prizes. Of course some people never seem to win and others claim to play at a profit, so let's see what it takes.

There are 1,000 three digit combinations or "numbers" in the Pick-3 Lottery game.

Example Numbers Percent # of boxed numbers

Unmatched (1-2-3) 720 72% 120

Doubles (1-2-2) 270 27% 90

Triples (2-2-2) 10 1% 10

Unmatched combinations should be drawn in 72% of the drawings or 7 times in 10 draws. Doubles should be drawn an average of 3 times in 10. Triples should appear 1 time in 100.

(If there can be said to be a Triples Strategy, it would be to wait until 90 draws have gone by without a Triple and then start playing them.)

Even though Doubles are drawn less often, they offer a certain attraction because they pay off at twice the rate of boxed Unmatched combinations. Double for a Double so to speak.

A 50 cent wager on Unmatched box returns $40.00. The same 50 cent wager on a Double returns $80.00 and of course $160.00 for a $1.00 wager on a Double box combination. As this is the only "advantage" to be found in the game, it becomes the best spot to drop our hook.

Consider this, there are only ten double numbers possible, ie:

0-0, 1-1, 2-2, 3-3, 4-4, 5-5, 6-6, 7-7, 8-8 and 9-9.

We can split them into two groups, a Low and a High range:

Low = 0-0, 1-1, 2-2, 3-3, 4-4, 5-5.

High= 4-4, 5-5, 6-6, 7-7, 8-8, 9-9

Now we know there are only ten digits in the game, how hard can it be to get one daily digit right in the next drawing? You pick a single digit you believe will come up next, and decide whether the double will come from the Low or High range.

Let's say you like #5 and High in the next draw, the numbers formed would be 5-4-4, 5-6-6, 5-7-7, 5-8-8 and 5-9-9. Notice we don't play 5-5-5 because we're not playing Triples (unless Triples have been out for over 90 draws) if your game insists 50 cent tickets be played 2 for a dollar, I suggest 5-3-3 in place of the Triple.

See what's happened here? We've gone from numbly picking combinations from among 90, to a 1 in 10 choice to put in front of a 50/50 choice, to play at 50 cents per number for a total daily outlay of $3.00.

Remember, we expect to automatically lose 7 times out of 10 when Unmatched comes up, but every ten days we can expect 2, 3 or 4 shots at winning. At $3.00 a day we can afford to go up to 26 draws before winning and we still break even. After 26 draws, if you haven't won, up the daily wager to a dollar per number for the next 13 draws. If you haven't won by then, get out of the game, you don't have the "feel" for Pick-3.

How do you get the "feel" for Pick-3? Generally you begin with a history of the game. Highlight the Doubles, keep an eye on "skips" between hits. You don't have to play every day if you feel a Double isn't due, this can be used to fund a $5.00 wager playing both Low and High ranges.

Another useful chart is simply the digits 0-9 down the side and dates across the top. Mark a red X for each time a digit hit for that date and a - on days it didn't. After a while you should be able to narrow the field of likely candidates at a glance. Again, you don't have to play if you feel a Double isn't due and this can fund playing two or three front digits.

What to do if you win? Well it depends on where in the 39 day cycle the hit comes in on. If it is toward the beginning, take out 20% to reward yourself and use the rest to double the size of the following wagers until it is gone, or you win again. If it is toward the tail end of the 39 play days, count yourself lucky you broke even and try again at $3.00 per play day.

Tracking your game's drawing history day by day can be most informative. How well does your game average the expected 3 Doubles in 10 draws? Has there ever been ten Unmatched draws in a row without a Double and what happened next? Was it followed by a cluster of Doubles? Do Doubles follow Doubles?

It is generally a good idea to go with what happens most often instead of being contrary because something went the other way once before. If something unusual does occur like Doubles hitting 3 times in 5 draws, look to the immediate past history for a clue such as a dry spell previous, could be valuable hints for the next time this pattern occurs.

Some Pick-3 players who claim to have been winners in the past move to another state like Florida and tell me they they have big problems picking winners. Every state runs their Pick-3 game differently. Florida takes an active role in keeping the numbers as random as possible. They use 21 ballsets and rotate them among 21 ten number machines, three of which are randomly chosen for Pick-3 and four for Pick-4. Even so you can sometimes find yesterday's Pick-3 number in the following day's Pick-4 so even the machines aren't as random as they'd like us to believe, their machinations are the problem. Some states don't have nearly as many ballsets and options, I would guess Pick-3 players have a better chance of winning that way.

Good luck to you. Robert Perkis / Lotto-Logix /

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