Lottery wheeling (also known as lottery system, lottery wheel, lottery wheeling system) is a method of playing lotteries, used by individual players and groups, where you play all possible combinations of a group of numbers. It requires playing more than one ticket and more numbers than those drawn in the lottery. If it's a pick-6 lottery, such as the common 6/49, then a wheeling system can be used to play with 7 or more numbers.
In a pick-6 lottery, an example will be a system with, say, 12 numbers and a guarantee of 4 if 5, meaning that the player will get a 4-win whenever five of his/her 12 numbers are among the six numbers drawn. Players are usually interested to have a certain guarantee in the minimum possible (or minimum known) number of tickets. A lottery wheeling system has a basic guarantee (as in the examples above), but it also has other, secondary guarantees, which can be observed from the table of wins for the system, as in Bluskov's books  and .
The probability of hitting the jackpot in the big lotteries is quite low. Most popular US lotteries have odds ranging from 1:176 million in Mega Millions to 1:11 million in the Michigan lottery to mention a few. Wheeling systems are usually intended to provide a minimum guaranteed number of wins provided some of the drawn numbers are captured in the set of the player's numbers. Lottery Wheels were introduced in the 1970s and have, over time, become a popular method of playing. Several "spin off" methods have since become popular, with mixed acceptance.
Full and Abbreviated Wheels are perhaps the most popular among different types of lottery wheels.
Full Wheel includes all combinations that can be generated from a set of numbers a player picks, and therefore guarantees a first tier prize if all of the drawn numbers are within the player's set of numbers; it also guarantees a number of lower tier prizes. The only drawback with full wheels is they become fairly expensive with increasing the size of the set of the player's chosen numbers. A player who wishes to play a full wheel with 10 numbers in a pick-6 lottery game will have to play 210 combinations, while a full wheel with 15 numbers in the same lottery will require 5005 combinations!
In a famous occurrence, a Polish-Irish businessman named Stefan Klincewicz bought up almost all of the 1,947,792 combinations available at the Irish lottery. He and his associates paid less than one million Irish pounds while the jackpot stood at 1.7 million pounds. The syndicate did have a ticket with the winning numbers. However, so did two other players, and the jackpot was split three ways. With the "Match 4" and "Match 5" prizes, though, Klincewicz's syndicate made a small profit overall.
An Abbreviated Wheel is an economical alternative for a Full Wheel. Although it will not include all possible combinations of the chosen numbers, it will guarantee at least one winning ticket if a certain amount of numbers drawn fall within the wheeled number set.
The number of combinations in an Abbreviated Wheel is significantly smaller than the number of combinations in a Full Wheel on the same set of numbers. For example, an Abbreviated Wheel for 8 numbers in a pick-6 lottery could have 7 combinations and 4 if 4 guarantee. If 4 of the 6 winning numbers are among the 8 numbers played, the player will have at least one ticket matching 4 of the winning numbers. A full wheel with 8 numbers requires 28 combinations and has 6 if 6 guarantee.
Filters can further reduce the number of combinations in a Full or Abbreviated Wheel, but they will generally destroy the guarantees of the wheel. For example, a filter can be set to remove combinations with all odd numbers, to balance the amount of odd and even numbers within the combination, etc.
Key Number Wheel
Key Number Wheel is a wheel in which one or more numbers (key numbers) appear in every combination of the wheel.
- Iliya Bluskov, "Combinatorial Systems (Wheels) with Guaranteed Wins for Pick-5 Lotteries including Euromillions and the Mega Lotteries", Lotbook Publishing, 2011.
- Iliya Bluskov, "Combinatorial Lottery Systems (Wheels) with Guaranteed Wins", Lotbook Publishing, 2012.
- Gail Howard, Lotto How to Wheel a Fortune, Smart Luck Publishers, 2007.
- Gail Howard, Lottery Master Guide, Smart Luck Publishers, 2003.
- Gail Howard, Lotto Wheel Five to Win, Smart Luck Publishers, 2006.
- Gail Howard, Lotto Winning Wheels For Powerball & Mega Millions, Smart Luck Publishers, 2006.