Your Guide to the Texas Lottery

Are you ready to try your luck in the Texas Lottery? This guide explains the different games and scratch offs to help you get started.

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Adam Moelis
Dec 6, 2021
10 min read

The Texas Lottery reached record-breaking heights in FY2021, with over $8 billion worth of sales. Players collected over $5 billion in winning payouts, the highest ever since the lottery started in 1992.

Lottery games are a big deal in Texas, where billions in Texas Lottery revenue goes to supporting retailers, Texas education, and Veterans programs. And Texas doesn't apply a state tax to your lottery winnings.

Do you want to hop on the winning Texas Lottery train? Read on for the ultimate guide to the Texas Lottery, the different Texas Lottery games, and tips for playing.

The Texas Lottery

The Lottery was voted into the Texas Constitution by Texans in 1991. The first Texas lottery ticket was sold to then Democrat governor Anne Richards in a little feed store. Texas broke the then world record for first-day sales with over $23 million tickets sold.

The Texas Lottery Commission in Austin oversees the Texas Lottery. Members are appointed by the governor with Senate approval. There are regulations for Commissioner eligibility and conduct to decrease potential corruption.

When you play the Texas Lottery, your revenue goes to help the state of Texas. It's an important source of funding for many public causes.

Over $27 billion of the revenue generated has gone directly to Texas public education since 1997. Over $166 million has been donated to Veterans' Assistance.

For FY2020, the revenue breakdown was as follows:

  • Prizes: 66.3%
  • Texas Education: 24.8%
  • Retailer Compensation: 5.2%
  • Lottery Administration: 3.4%
  • Veterans’ Assistance: 0.3%

Over $45 million in unclaimed prizes was also donated to public service institutions like the University of Texas Medical Branch, according to the San Antonio News-Express. Licensed retailers also generated over $400 million in commissions.

How to Play the Texas Lottery

Tickets cannot be purchased by mail or phone, according to the Texas Lottery’s official FAQ. Payslips are available in-person from licensed Texas Lottery retailers like convenience stores, grocery stores, and gas stations. The official site includes a nearby retailer search function.

For online purchases, there’s an official Texas Lottery app in the Apple store and on Google Play. Or you can use the official Texas lottery online site, The Lotter Texas.

While there’s no state tax, Texas still has certain regulations to be in compliance with IRS federal tax policies. You must select your payout method on the payslip before you play, and it cannot be changed afterwards.

Each game has multiple ways to win. You can check to see if your payslip numbers match the winning numbers by using:

  • The live broadcast
  • The Texas Lottery website
  • The Texas Lottery App
  • Texas Lottery retailers
  • The 800-375-6886 results line
  • Local newspapers

Winning tickets are only valid up to 180 days after the drawing (draw games) or the game’s close date (scratch tickets).

Texas Lottery Games

The Texas Lottery currently has eight draw games and eight price options for scratch tickets. You don’t have to be a Texas resident to play or collect winnings! But your ticket must come from an authorized or official source.

1. Texas Lottery Powerball

The Powerball lottery is a multi-jurisdictional drawing game with million-dollar jackpots. Currently, 45 states participate. The starting jackpot is $20 million.

The total prize has reached $700-$750 million several times. It even hit $1.586 billion in Jan. 2016, after it rolled an unprecedented 19 times. It currently holds the world record for the largest lottery prize awarded.

Powerball is very popular in states like Texas, California, and Florida. Winning tickets for the billion-dollar jackpot were sold by both the California and Florida Powerballs, as well as one from Tennessee.

How to Play

The Texas Lottery Powerball is very straightforward to play. To fill out the Powerball payslip, you choose five numbers between 1-69 and one Powerball number between 1-26.

You also have the option to select Quick Pick (QP), which randomly generates numbers for you.

If you want to use the same set of numbers for future drawings, you can select the “Multi-draw” box for a max of 10 consecutive drawings. There’s also an option called Power Play to increase any non-grand prize winnings by 2-5 or 10 times.

The Power Play cost is $1 per play. The frequency is 1-10X, 2-5X, 3-4X, 13-3X, 24-2X. The 10X option is only available for initial amounts of $150 million or less.

To check your numbers, tune into the Powerball broadcast at 10:12 p.m. CST on Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday.

2. Mega Millions

Mega Millions is another multi-jurisdiction game played in 45 states. The minimum jackpot is $40 million.

The largest Mega Millions jackpot so far is $1.537 billion in 2018. It’s also the world-record holder for the largest lottery prize on a single ticket, as the Powerball’s record high was split between three tickets.

It also claims the third-highest jackpot spot with a $1.05 billion jackpot in Jan., 2021.

How to Play

Like Powerball, Mega Millions is relatively easy to play. You choose five between 1-70, and one Mega Ball number between 1-25. The QP and multi-draw options are also available.

Similar to Power Play, the Mega Millions has a multiplier option called Megaplier. This option costs $1 per playboard and increases non-grand prize winnings by 2-5 times. The Megplier frequency is 1-5, 3-4s, 6-3s, and 5-2s.

The Mega Millions broadcast is 10:12 p.m CST every Tuesday and Friday.

3. Lotto Texas

Lotto Texas is only available in Texas state. It’s one of the oldest Texas lottery games, running since May, 1992. The minimum jackpot is $5 million.

The highest winning jackpot was $145 million in 2004, after over 30 rolls. Other high jackpots include $97 million in 2010, and $42 million in 2020.

The $42 million jackpot was the third-highest available in the world at the time. Only the Euro Millions ($83 million) and Super Enalotto ($45 million) jackpots were higher.

Thomas "Hollywood" Henderson is among the winners of Lotto Texas. Henderson is a former linebacker for the Dallas Cowboys and won the $29 million jackpot in March, 2000.

How to Play

Lotto Texas simply has you pick six numbers between 1-54, either manually or using QP. The multi-draw option is also available.

The Lotta Texas multiplier is called Extra! and increases winnings by up to $10,000. It costs $1 per play.

The Lotto Texas drawings run alongside the Texas Lottery Powerball drawings on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays at 10:12 p.m. CST.

4. Texas Two-Step

Texas Two-Step is another in-house draw game run only in Texas. It started in May, 2001. The jackpot minimum starts at $200,000.

The highest jackpots reached over $2 million in 2006, 2009, and 2019. A Houston retail worker won $2.15 million in March, 2021, by purchasing a QP ticket through an app.

How to Play

Texas Two-Step has two steps: choose four numbers and one bonus ball from between 1-35. Or you can use the QP option. There’s also a multi-draw option, but no multipliers.

The Texas Two-Step drawings are broadcast at 10:12 p.m. CST on Mondays and Thursdays.

5. Pick 3

Pick 3 is a fun and cheap game with base game tickets available for as low as 50 cents. The max prize is $500. It’s another older game that started in Oct., 1993.

Along with the low cost, Pick 3 has a lower number of possible number combinations. Players are given order and time options to increase the odds but also increase their payout amount.

How to Play

Pick 3 gameplay is a little more flexible. You fill out the payslip by picking three numbers between 0-9 (only single digits) or using the QP option.

You then choose how to play your numbers:

  • Exact Order: Winning numbers must be in the exact order drawn
  • Any Order: Winning numbers can be in any order
  • Exact/Any Order: Winning numbers play both options
  • Combo: Plays all Exact Order combos on one ticket

The multi-draw option for Pick 3 includes a maximum of 24 consecutive drawings, which is also how many Pick 3 draws occur per week. You can choose from four options to play your numbers for a specific (CST) drawing time:

  • Only morning (10:00 a.m.)
  • Only day (12:27 p.m.)
  • Only evening (6:00 p.m.)
  • Only night (10:12 p.m.)

Pick 3 has a bonus number round called Fireball! After every Pick 3 drawing, the Texas Lottery draws another number between 0-9.

This number can replace a winning number so you can create more combination wins. Choosing this option doubles the cost of Pick 3.

Pick 3 has many drawings. In addition to the times listed above, they’re held six days a week from Monday-Saturday.

6. Daily 4

Daily 4 was started on Sept., 2007. It has many more options than other Texas Lottery games. The maximum prize is $5,000.

Like Pick 3, you can purchase a base ticket for only 50 cents.

How to Play

Daily 4 is very similar to Pick 3, however, you choose or QP four numbers from 0-9 instead of just three numbers. You also have more options to play your numbers:

  • Straight: Winning numbers must be in the exact order drawn
  • Box: Winning numbers can be in any order
  • Straight/Box: Winning numbers play both options
  • Combo: Plays all Exact Order combos on one ticket
  • Front Pair: Winning numbers match the order of the 1st and 2nd (first two) numbers
  • Mid Pair: Winning numbers match the order of the 2nd and 3rd (middle two) numbers
  • Back Pair: Winning numbers match the order of the 3rd and 4th (last two) numbers

Like Pick 3, there’s a multi-draw option for 24 consecutive plays, which is also the number of draws per week. It includes the four options for playing the morning, day, evening, or night draws exclusively.

Daily 4 also has the Fireball bonus round after each draw.

Daily 4 drawings are held along with the Pick 3 drawings at 10:00 a.m., 12:27 p.m., 6:00 p.m., and 10:12 p.m. CST from Monday-Saturday.

7. Cash 5

Cash 5 has been running since July, 2002. It was revamped for improvements in 2018, including higher odds of winning and better prize guarantees.

Unlike the other games which have numerous prize categories, there are only four total prizes:

  • First place: $25,000
  • Second place: $350
  • Third place: $15
  • Fourth place: Free Cash 5 ticket

How to Play

Cash 5 is very simple and easy. You choose five numbers between 1-35, or use QP to get the randomly generated numbers. That’s it!

The winning categories are:

  • All 5 numbers: Top prize
  • 4 out of 5 numbers: Second prize
  • 3 out of 5 numbers: Third prize
  • 2 out of 5 numbers: Fourth prize

The multi-draw option allows a maximum of 12 consecutive gameplays. There is no multiplier or bonus round.

Cash Five drawings are broadcast at 10:12 p.m. CST, Monday through Saturday.

8. All or Nothing

The U.S. version of All or Nothing originated in Texas in 2012. This quirky game gives you a top prize if all your numbers match, or if none of your numbers match.

You also win prizes if you have very few matching numbers comparable to having many matching numbers.

How to Play

Like Cash 5, the All or Nothing is very simple. Choose or QP your 12 numbers between 1-24. The multi-draw maximum is 24 consecutive drawings.

The winnings categories for matching numbers are:

  • 0 match: $250,000
  • 1 match: $500
  • 2 match: $50
  • 3 match: $10
  • 4 match: $2
  • 8 match: $2
  • 9 match: $10
  • 10 match: $50
  • 11 match: $500
  • 12 match: $250,000

There are no multipliers or bonus rounds.

All or Nothing drawings are held at the same times as Pick 3 and Daily 4: 10:00 a.m., 12:27 p.m., 6:00 p.m., and 10:12 p.m. CST on Mondays-Saturdays.

9. Texas Lottery Scratch Off

Scratch tickets are another popular Texas pastime like bean vs. no bean chili debates. They’ve been available in Texas since 1992. Scratch tickets alone accounted for a $1 billion increase in lottery revenue.

Scratch tickets have different games that run and close at different times. According to state law, the Texas Lottery is required to have scratch ticket games that only directly benefit veterans.

The current Veteran’s Cash game donates proceeds to the Texas Veterans Commission’s Fund for Veterans’ Assistance (FVA). Other Veterans' support scratch tickets include 20Xtra and Lucky 3.

How to Play

Scratch tickets have eight options for dollar price, with various numbers of ticket games:

  • $1 (6 games)
  • $2 (8 games)
  • $3 (4 games)
  • $5 (21 games)
  • $10 (13 games)
  • $20 (10 games)
  • $30 (3 games)
  • $50 (4 games)

Current open and previously closed games can be found on the official Texas Lottery site. Each ticket game entry gives the scratch ticket’s details, including the prize list. Top prize winnings can be as high as millions of dollars.

Scratch tickets also have a Luck Zone, where non-winning tickets can be entered again for a second chance at various prizes. These prizes include Dallas Cowboy sports packages and deluxe trips to places like Hollywood, California.

Texas Lottery Odds

Like most lotteries, higher prizes mean longer odds. The Texas Lottery lists number frequencies for its draw games, so players and analysts can power their probability algorithms.

Pick 3, Daily 4, and Cash 5 have modest payouts but also have lower odds, cheap tickets, and higher drawings. Powerball and Mega Millions have very long odds but also have very high payouts.

The (rounded) odds for each games’ top prizes are:

  • Powerball: 1 in 292 million
  • Mega Millions: 1 in 302 million
  • Lotto Texas: 1 in 25 million
  • Texas Two-Step: 1 in 1.8 million
  • Pick 3: 1 in 167 to 1 in 1,000 (depending on game type)
  • Daily 4: 1 in 417 to 1 in 10,000 (depending on game type)
  • Cash 5: 1 in 324,000
  • All or Nothing: 1 in 2.7 million

By contrast, lower-tier prizes have some very low odds that include free new tickets. Pick 3 has odds as low as 1 in 69 for $90-$180 payouts, a cash boost you can use for buying something special, paying a bill, or purchasing more tickets.

Scratch ticket odds depend on more factors. According to the Texas Lottery disclaimer, overall odds are set by the End of Production Prize Structure.

Texas Lottery Tips

There’s a whole separate industry dedicated to helping people win lotteries. It includes everything from mathematical formulas to astrological calculations.

Even if you don’t want to use special software or a numerology chart, there are still some simple tips and tricks you can use to be a smart lottery player.

Texas Lottery Tip #1: Avoid Overused Numbers

Many people choose lotto numbers based on special dates like birthdays, so 1-31 are very common choices. This limits your chances of winning by eliminating high numbers. It also increases the odds of sharing your prize with someone else if you do win.

If you still want to use the power of special days, you can use tricks like combining birthdate numbers. Or if the combined birthday numbers are still lower than 31 (sorry everyone born on January 1st, 2000-2010) you can add numbers until you get one within the right range.

For example, someone born on March 7th, 1997 who plays Powerball could use these numbers: 03, 07, and 19. They can add their birth month and day together to get 10.

But they can’t use 97 because the Powerball only goes to 69. For another number, they can add 3+7+1+9+9+7 to get 36. Now they have 03, 07, 10, 19, and 36 to work with.

For bonus balls, you can also keep adding all the numbers together until the number is within range. Using the above example, they can add the total 36 together to get 9 for their Powerball pick.

You can also use the last two years of a birthday year separately if the person was born before 1969 or 1970.

Texas Lottery Tip #2: Play the Numbers

Although probability is complicated and chance is random, there are still certain tricks you can use to increase your odds. For example, you can see from past winnings that all odd or all even number combinations are rarer. So you improve your chances by mixing odds and evens.

All low numbers picks are also rare, which is why you need those high numbers if you use special dates. You can improve your odds by mixing high and low numbers.

So far for 2021, not a single winning jackpot roll for Lotto Texas has had all numbers lower than 31. And only four winning rolls had all numbers 31 or less in 2020.

Texas Lottery Tip #3: You Can Still Use Quick Picks

Some people are wary of Quick Picks for various reasons. They may feel it lowers their odds, or that machines have a built-in bias to avoid winning numbers, similar to rigged gambling machines.

But 70% of winners used QP, while roughly the same percentage of all players choose QP for their payslip numbers. This means QP doesn’t significantly lower or increase your odds. So if you’re in a hurry or aren’t invested in picking certain numbers, QP is still a safe lottery option.

Texas Lottery Tip #4: Pay Attention to Your Ticket

Once you buy a lottery ticket, keep it in a safe place and set drawing reminders so you don’t forget. Millions in unclaimed prizes go back into the lottery or public causes every year. A Texas resident almost missed out on $7 million after their winning ticket went unclaimed for months.

Some retailers may also claim your ticket didn’t win and then cash the ticket themselves. Always double-check your ticket before turning it in.

Beware of scanning schemes, too. A retailer in Tyler, Texas tried to scam a winning ticket by scanning it (rendering it void for other stores) and then telling the winner there was no money for the payout. Police had to get involved.

You can also improve your claim speed with the Texas Lottery by having tickets that are unmarked and in good condition.

Texas Lottery Tip# 5: Pool Your Resources

Buying more tickets improves your odds, even if only slightly for the higher odds. People will form ticket buying groups with friends and family to increase their ticket purchasing power.

Some winning tickets even go to companies. Onomea LLC in Plano won over 18 million from the Lotto Texas in Nov., 2021.

The Texas Lottery encourages groups to put their lottery agreements in writing to avoid future legal entanglements. Their FAQ includes suggestions for information to include on the group agreement, such the names of all participants and how the winnings should be divided.

How to Claim Your Texas Lottery Winnings

When applicable, you have two payout options: cash value or annual payments. There are pros and cons to either option, so make sure to select which choice works best for you.

You can still claim your winnings remotely if you live out of state, unless you’ve won more than $5 million. According to the official Texas Lottery site, your winnings must be collected in certain places by amount:

Winnings of $599 or less:

  • Texas Lottery Retailers
  • Local claim centers
  • Austin Lottery Commission
  • Online claim form

Winnings between $600 to $2.5 million or Merchandise Prizes:

  • Local claim centers
  • Austin Lottery Commission
  • Online claim form

Winnings from +$2.5 million to 5 million:

  • Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston, and San Antonio Claim Centers
  • Austin Lottery Commission
  • Online claim form

Winnings +5 million

  • Austin Lottery Commission- by appointment only

You may also choose to remain anonymous when collecting your winnings. Texas laws and regulations protect winners from being identified if they win over $1 million, according to The Lotter Texas.

Are You Ready to Win Big in Texas?

Texas strives to make everything bigger, including its lottery system. Now that you know the ins-and-out of the Texas Lottery, you’re ready to start playing safely and smartly.

For even more financial rewards, get started with a prize-linked savings account today! You could win up to $10 million just through responsible saving.

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