As a younger individual I spent some time hanging out around the barns on the back lots of Louisiana horse racing tracks such as Evangeline Downs, now in Opelousas, Louisiana, Louisiana Downs in Bossier City, Louisiana, and the Fairgrounds in New Orleans, Louisiana.

And I learned a few things from those who make their living in that game. One of the things I learned was this, if you can find an advantage to help you win, and it's legal, use it.

Now to be honest, there were more than a few times when the definition of "legal" could have been called into question in some of those back barn conversations but the suggestion, as a whole, makes pretty good sense.

For the past ten years, I have been writing and reporting on the Louisiana Lottery and the many different winners they have produced. In that time we have noticed a few things about the winning tickets, particularly the draw games such as Powerball, Lotto, Mega Millions, and Easy 5.

Over 70% of Winning Lottery Tickets in the United States Have This in Common

When looking for an advantage in a game of chance the first thing you attempt to discover are the similarities. Right off the bat, there is a glaring statistic that most lottery players, even those who only play when the money gets "big", can ascribe to. It has to do with how you pick your numbers for the ticket you're going to play.

According to statistics, most winning lottery tickets, no matter the "draw game", have their numbers chosen at random by what's known as a "quick pick". It's faster and more convenient for lottery retailers and it takes a lot of pressure off lottery ticket buyers too.

Now, does using a quick pick give you a mathematical advantage in any of the lottery games? No, it does not. It's just a quirky function of the data. And since I don't want you holding up the line attempting to bubble in your numbers at the Circle K, you should probably go "quick pick" too.

Where is the Best Place to Buy a Winning Powerball or Mega Millions Ticket?

If you look at the data then you should purchase your lottery tickets where you buy your gasoline. Yeah, a convenience store. No, the Circle K's, Shop Rites, 7-Eleven's, Loves', Kangaroos, et al don't have an unpublished advantage when it comes to selling winners. Again, it's a function of the data. Because most people purchase lottery tickets at convenience stores more winners come from those purchases.

And no, there is no defining data that suggests you should purchase your tickets at a small town out-of-the-way store or independent retailer versus making your purchase at a well-known and established chain in a larger metropolitan area. The ping pong balls don't care whether you bought your ticket in the country or the middle of town.

What Place Sells the Most Louisiana Lottery Winners?

If you're familiar with the real estate edict, location, location, location, then you'll understand that certain locations in Louisiana can be more desirable for lottery players to pick a winner. This geographic strip across the state generates more than 70% of all big wins in the state.

You've probably noticed there seems to be a large collection of "pinned wins" on that map from the Louisiana Lottery that cluster along Interstate 10. The clustering continues along I-12 and I-10 in the southeastern corner of the state as well.

By our rudimentary methods, we have determined that the most likely scenario for a winning Powerball, Mega Millions, or other lottery game winner is this. The ticket was a quick pick purchased at a convenience store within 50 miles of Interstate 10 or I-12 east of Baton Rouge.

Again this is not predetermined by the Lottery, Powerball, Mega Millions or anyone else, it's a function of the data. More people live along I-10 and I-12 therefore more people play the lottery in those locations. And, they also win more than other places across the state.

About 20% of all lottery winners in Louisiana come from the Baton Rouge or Lafayette regions. That makes up 40% of all winners. The New Orleans region produces about 32% of all lottery winners so that brings our I-10, I-12 totals nearly 2/3rds.

The Shreveport, Monroe, and Alexandria regions make up the remaining 30+% of the winning tickets. But those North Louisiana and CENLA numbers just pale in comparison to the number of winners created closer to the coast.

What Are the Current Powerball and Mega Millions Jackpots?

For the current Powerball totals you can click, here. For the latest Mega Millions totals you can click, here. Powerball holds drawings on Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday at 10 pm. The Mega Millions game holds drawings on Tuesday and Friday at 10 pm.

One more thing if I may, as a rule, I only buy lottery tickets as Christmas gifts. They are a bad investment as far as financial planning is concerned but they are fun to play. I hope you'll take that to heart. Most tickets don't win and if you can't afford to spend the money on a lottery ticket, then don't.

If you need help with a gambling problem or you love someone who is having an issue, please call 1-877-770-STOP (7867). That call is free and you'll be referred free of charge to a counselor who can help you. Good Luck.

11 Odd Things People Say When They Find Out You're From Louisiana

Gallery Credit: Bruce Mikells