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Which Lottery has highest chance of winning in California?

California offers a variety of lottery games with different prize structures and odds of winning. For lottery players in California looking to maximize their chances of taking home a jackpot, it’s important to understand which games provide the best odds. This article will compare and analyze the different California lottery games and their odds of winning to determine which game gives players the highest probability of winning a top prize.

Overview of California Lottery Games

The California Lottery began in 1984 as California became the second state after New Jersey to establish a lottery system. The California Lottery provides supplemental funding to California public schools and colleges. The lottery also supports other beneficiaries in areas like environment, parks, health, and public safety. There are a variety of lottery games administered by the California Lottery:


Scratchers are instant win games where players scratch off the protective coating on the ticket to reveal prizes. There are different Scratchers games with varying price points and prize structures. Some Scratchers have top prizes up to $5 million. Overall odds of winning any prize in Scratchers games range from 1 in 3.5 to 1 in 5.9.

SuperLotto Plus

SuperLotto Plus is a traditional jackpot game drawn on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Players choose 5 numbers from 1 to 47 and 1 Mega number from 1 to 27. To win the jackpot, players must match all 5 numbers and the Mega number. The starting jackpot is $7 million and rolls over if there is no winner. The overall odds of winning the jackpot are 1 in 41,416,353.

Mega Millions

Mega Millions is a multi-state jackpot game drawn on Tuesdays and Fridays. Players pick 5 numbers from 1 to 70 and 1 Mega Ball number from 1 to 25. To win the jackpot, players must match all 5 numbers and the Mega Ball. Jackpots start at $40 million and roll over if there’s no winner. The odds of winning the jackpot are 1 in 302,575,350.


Powerball is another interstate jackpot game drawn on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Players select 5 numbers from 1 to 69 and 1 Powerball number from 1 to 26. Matching all 5 numbers and the Powerball wins the jackpot prize. Jackpots begin at $40 million and can roll to huge amounts if there are multiple rollovers. The odds of hitting the jackpot are 1 in 292,201,338.

Daily Derby

Daily Derby is a daily drawing game based on horse racing. Players pick 3 horses to finish 1st, 2nd, and 3rd in an imaginary race. There are daily prizes for matching 2 or 3 horses in exact order. There are also jackpot prizes for picking all 3 winning horses over multiple days. Overall odds vary from 1 in 8 to 1 in 2,118 depending on prize level.

Fantasy 5

Fantasy 5 is a daily drawing game where players select 5 numbers from 1 to 39. Matching all 5 numbers wins the rolling jackpot prize. Jackpots start at $50,000 and keep growing until there’s a winner. The posted odds for matching all 5 winning numbers are 1 in 575,757.

Daily 3

Daily 3 is a popular daily drawing game based on 3-digit numbers. Players can choose numbers in different ways (straight, boxed, front/back pairs, etc.) and win prizes based on how many digits match in different orders. Odds range from 1 in 167 for matching one digit to 1 in 1,000 for matching all 3 digits exactly.

Daily 4

Daily 4 works just like Daily 3 except it’s based on 4-digit numbers. Players can win prizes by matching the winning numbers in different orders. The odds range from 1 in 167 for any 1 digit to 1 in 10,000 for all 4 digits in exact order.

Daily Keno

Daily Keno is a fast-paced drawing game where 20 numbers from 1 to 80 are drawn every 4 minutes. Players try to match some or all of their picks. Payouts increase for matching more numbers. The top prize is $100,000 for matching 15 of 15 picks. Overall odds vary depending on amount of numbers matched.

Hot Spot

Hot Spot is a terminal-based game that gives instant prizes. Players touch numbered “Hot Spots” on a play screen trying to match numbers, symbols, or specified patterns to win prizes. Overall odds of winning any prize are about 1 in 8. Top prizes range from $100 to $100,000.

California Lottery Game Odds Comparison

To identify which California lottery games have the best odds, we need to compare the probability of winning the top prize in each game:


Scratchers have varying odds depending on the price point and specific game. The best odds come from $30 Scratchers tickets with a posted top prize odds of 1 in 2,395,200. This equates to about a 1 in 2.4 million chance of winning the top scratcher prize.

SuperLotto Plus

SuperLotto Plus jackpot odds are 1 in 41,416,353. This means a 1 in 41 million chance of winning the SuperLotto Plus jackpot.

Mega Millions

The odds of winning the MegaMillions jackpot are 1 in 302,575,350, giving you a roughly 1 in 302 million shot at the top prize.


Powerball has posted jackpot odds of 1 in 292,201,338. This is around a 1 in 292 million probability of hitting the Powerball jackpot.

Daily Derby

If you match all 3 horses in exact order over multiple days, the odds of hitting the Daily Derby grand prize jackpot are 1 in 2,118. So you have a 1 in 2,118 chance of winning the Daily Derby jackpot.

Fantasy 5

Fantasy 5 jackpot odds are 1 in 575,757, giving you about a 1 in 575 thousand probability of winning the Fantasy 5 top prize.

Daily 3

The best odds in Daily 3 are 1 in 1,000 for matching all 3 digits in exact order for the top prize.

Daily 4

In Daily 4, the odds are 1 in 10,000 for matching all 4 digits perfectly for the top payout.

Daily Keno

The odds of matching all 15 numbers in Daily Keno are 1 in 5,474,405, so you have a 1 in 5.5 million shot at the top $100,000 prize.

Hot Spot

Hot Spot top prize odds can vary but are typically between 1 in 240,000 and 1 in 2,000,000, giving you around a 1 in 2 million probability of winning the $100,000 jackpot.

Based on the odds comparison, the California lottery game with the best chance at winning the top prize is Daily Derby with jackpot odds of just 1 in 2,118. After that, Scratchers, Fantasy 5, Daily 3, and Daily 4 also provide relatively better odds for winning their grand prizes compared to SuperLotto Plus, Mega Millions, Powerball, and Daily Keno.

Factors Affecting California Lottery Odds

There are some key factors that explain why certain California lottery games have better odds than others:

  • Smaller number field – Games like Fantasy 5, Daily 3, and Daily 4 have much smaller number ranges than nationwide lotteries, improving the odds.
  • No Mega number or Powerball – Games with an extra number requirement like Mega Millions and Powerball have worse jackpot odds.
  • Prize pool – Smaller top prize pools allow games like Daily 3/4 to pay out top prizes more frequently.
  • Rollovers – Huge jackpots due to rollovers reduce odds in games like SuperLotto Plus and Mega Millions.
  • Multiple ways to win – Scratchers and Daily Keno offer many lower tier prizes, increasing overall win rates.

The lottery games that limit the number field for picking and avoid a special Mega Ball offer simpler odds that are easier to beat. The games with mammoth jackpots and added number requirements make the odds astronomical against winning the top prize.

Which Game Gives You the Best Shot at Any Prize?

If you want to maximize your overall chances of winning some sort of prize, instead of just the jackpot, then Scratchers is clearly the top choice. With odds between 1 in 3.5 and 1 in 5.9, you have an excellent probability of winning on any given Scratchers ticket.

After Scratchers, games like Hot Spot and Daily Keno give you a decent shot at lower tier prizes. Fantasy 5 and SuperLotto Plus also award other prizes for matching just 2-4 numbers plus the Mega/Powerball number. While jackpot odds are still extremely long, matching a few numbers gives nice consolation prizes and helps your overall odds.

The downside is that games like Mega Millions, Powerball, and SuperLotto Plus have some of the lowest probabilities of winning small prizes as most players only match 0-1 numbers. Daily 3 and Daily 4 offer better odds, but you’ll likely need to play boxed/combo tickets which reduces payouts.

Ultimately, Scratchers give you the best overall shot at walking away with any prize compared to other California lottery games. Just remember that more frequent smaller prizes from $5-$100 is the tradeoff for giving up a chance at a multi-million dollar lottery jackpot.

Which Game has the Best Jackpot Odds Based on Jackpot Size

We’ve compared the baseline odds of winning the jackpot in each California lottery game. However, another factor to consider is the size of the current jackpot and how that affects the expected payout. Larger jackpots offset the lower odds and you can quantify jackpot size using expected value.

Expected value = (Jackpot Size) x (Probability of Winning Jackpot)

As an example, let’s take a hypothetical $500 million Powerball jackpot and calculate the expected payout based on the 1 in 292 million odds:

Expected Payout = ($500 million) x (1/292,201,338) = $1.71

This shows that on a $500 million Powerball drawing, the average statistical payout per $2 ticket is $1.71. We can calculate and compare the expected value of different California lottery jackpots to see which game gives you the most favorable return per wager based on current jackpot size.

Some key factors that can skew the expected values:

  • Jackpot size – Larger jackpots greatly raise expected payouts
  • Odds fluctuations – Mega Millions and Powerball odds worsen as jackpots grow from rollovers
  • Number of winners – Jackpots split between multiple winners lowers individual payouts
  • Taxes – Federal and state taxes cut into lottery winnings, reducing actual payouts by 25-40%

While games like Daily 3/Daily 4 have better baseline jackpot odds, their small jackpots max out at $10,000-$100,000 range. Huge jackpots in the hundreds of millions for games like Mega Millions and Powerball can make their expected payouts higher despite the long odds. Frequent rollovers also drive the jackpots and expected values sky high.

The key tip is to calculate the jackpots and odds for the next drawings in SuperLotto Plus, Mega Millions, and Powerball. Pick the game with the highest current expected payout per ticket. Jumbo jackpots over $500 million often have the best expected payouts despite the lottery odds being firmly against you.

Recommendations for Improving California Lottery Odds

Here are some tips to maximize your odds while playing the California lottery:

  • Play games with better jackpot odds – Focus your jackpot chasing on Daily Derby, Fantasy 5, Scratchers, Daily 3, and Daily 4
  • Take advantage when jackpots spike – Use expected payout to identify when Mega Millions or Powerball offer favorable returns
  • Buy multiple tickets – Increase your odds by purchasing more number combinations
  • Join lottery pools – Pool money with other players to buy more tickets and improve odds
  • Use lottery wheeling systems – Organize number picks in strategic patterns to increase coverage
  • Avoid quick pick – Carefully select your own numbers instead of quick/easy pick options
  • Scratch off tickets methodically – Reveal prizes in a careful order to avoid missing winners
  • Claim prizes properly – Sign the back of the ticket, keep it very safe, and immediately contact lottery officials about instructions for redeeming the prize

Keep in mind that even the best lottery odds are extremely long compared to other forms of gambling and entertainment. Don’t spend more than you can afford to lose when playing the lottery. Have fun chasing jackpots, but use moderation and keep expectations realistic about your probability of winning.


In the California lottery, your best chances of winning any top prize is in the Daily Derby game with jackpot odds of just 1 in 2,118. Scratchers offer by far the highest odds of winning smaller prizes while games like Powerball and Mega Millions feature jackpots in the hundreds of millions but with much lower probability of matching the winning numbers. Carefully choose lottery games with better jackpot odds and take advantage when massive jackpot create favorable expected payouts. Use lottery wheeling, pool tickets with friends, and play strategically instead of relying solely on random quick picks. With the right approach, you can maximize your odds and potentially improve your chances of beating the long California lottery probabilities. Just remember to gamble responsibly as the lottery is still gambling with very long shot odds no matter how you play.