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Feeling lucky? Buy a lottery ticket. But is luck all that it takes? Not necessarily. Of course, you can't change the odds in the lottery or other similar games of chance. But with a little homework, you can place yourself in a better position to win.

How? Search for the best games and study winning patterns. Your odds will improve a hundred times over those who play tougher games with no strategies.

But first, you need to be aware to two little known facts:

1. The numbers that come up in Lotto and Power Ball are not as random as they would have you think.

2. All games are not equal. Some states offer considerably better odds than others.

Here are some winning strategies:

LOTTERIES

No random game of chance is truly random. The reason is in the manufacture of the machinery. There are always slight imperfections. Many machines use forced air to send a numbered ball into a tube, which then becomes a winning number. To be completely random, each ball would have to weigh exactly the same down to the molecule. The bin and tube would have to be precision-designed and tested for years to assure accuracy. This is impractical for any state to do.

What you can do is exploit these inaccuracies. Here's how.

1. Keep track of the frequency each ball comes up as a winner. Certain ones may come up more often than others. The results are printed daily in the newspaper, or the lottery commission will usually be happy to supply past results. There is also computer software you can use. But don't track numbers more than two years old because mechanisms may have changed.

2. Also track which tubes or other devices balls go through. Certain balls may favor certain ones. This is known as positional analysis.

3. Play numbers based on your positional analysis.

4. Play lotteries in states or areas where the number of players is the lowest, but the jackpot is the highest.

LOTTO

This game is known as "6/49," where six balls out of 49 win. Your odds are one in fourteen million. Positional analysis is again the best strategy, but here are two variations.

1. Associated numbers: Some numbers seem to frequently appear before or after others.

2. Overdue numbers: Positional analysis might reveal that a number has won frequently over a several month period, but has not come up in a few weeks. It might be overdue. There's no mathematical rationale for this, but experienced players think it's valid.

POWER BALL

This game differs from "6/49" in that the sixth ball comes from its own pool of 49 balls. Your odds are increased to one in 105 million. You can use positional frequency, but the number bias combinations can be so large, it's impractical. Experienced players use a mathematical formula called the Dimitrov Wheel. It tells you how to pick the ten or so combinations that maximize your odds. It's available in many lottery publications and is built in to most lottery software.

Avoid picking unpopular numbers but remember that if you do, you won't have to share the prize if you win. The name of the game is winning, and the only way to do that is pick the right numbers.