Does the confusing array of Maryland Lottery scratchoff cards leave you wondering which one to choose? Is it better to pay $10 for a 10x Payday Payout or $20 for the popular Lucky 7's Game Book? If you're looking for a smaller cash outlay, say $1, how do you choose between Aces & Deuces and Cash Fiesta?
The best way to up your odds with scratchoff cards is to visit the Maryland Lottery website before you buy. The top advertised prize for your game -- that would be $1,000 on Cash Fiesta, for example -- may not actually be available when you buy your ticket. There are a set number of prizes offered, and when they're gone, they're gone. By clicking on "Scratchoffs" and selecting the ticket price you plan to pay from the drop-down menu, you can find what different games are on offer by the Maryland Lottery at any given time. Then, look to the right-hand side of the page to check how many of each prize remain unclaimed.
Do you want to spend your $1 in Aces & Deuces or Cash Fiesta? The top prize in both games is $1,000. Twenty-four of the 25 available top prizes have been claimed in Aces & Deuces as of this writing, while 24 of 26 have been claimed in Cash Fiesta. Neither game seems a likely prospect for turning $1 into $1,000 for today's buyers. Easy Money is a worse pick, with no top prizes available, while Double the Money offers six more $1,000 payouts and five remaining $2,000 payouts.
If you're looking to invest more for a chance at a bigger jackpot, do some due diligence. At the moment, buying a Big Money Megaplay ticket for $20 in the hopes of snagging $1 million is a futile endeavor, as there are no $1 million prizes left, no $50,000 prizes left, and only one $1,000 prize yet to be claimed. Sure, there are smaller prizes that haven't been won, but a ticket to a different game might give you a chance at a big prize as well as the small ones.
Some Maryland Lottery tickets, including scratchoffs, are eligible for second-chance contests. Others are not. A current promotion for the It's a Wonderful Life scratchoff allows holders of two losing tickets to enter a drawing for $500 gift cards or a $10,000 check. Choosing a lottery ticket with a second-chance option gives you more chances for your money. With It's a Wonderful Life tickets, none of the five $20,000 top prizes have been awarded yet, either.
Few people would look upon a lottery ticket as a serious investment; still, if you're going to spend time dreaming of winning that top prize, doesn't it make sense to make sure it's actually possible before you buy?
Carol Bengle Gilbert writes about Maryland and Washington, D.C., for Yahoo! Contributor Network.
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