A lottery is a game in which numbers are drawn at random to determine winners of prizes. Generally, the more numbers matched in a lottery draw, the higher the prize. While lottery games may seem like a modern invention, they date back to the ancient world. The founding fathers, for example, ran lotteries to fund projects like the construction of Faneuil Hall and building a road in Virginia over a mountain pass.

But despite the popularity of the lottery, not everyone should play it. The odds of winning can be very low, even if you buy multiple tickets. And the price of a ticket can be prohibitively high, especially for those on fixed incomes.

To improve your odds of winning a lottery, try to choose numbers that aren’t close together–other players will be less likely to pick those same sequences. Also, avoid playing numbers that have sentimental value, such as those associated with a birthday. Also, consider joining a lottery pool. This can help you afford to purchase more tickets and increase your chances of winning a large jackpot. Just make sure to select a trustworthy and dependable person to be the manager of the pool. This person should keep detailed records of money collected, number purchases, and results.

Whether you play the lottery or not, it’s important to understand how the system works and the potential impact on your finances. For more information, read this article by NerdWallet writer Stephanie Chartier.