If just one of these 10 tips saved you from a lottery disaster I'd be happy

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Oksana Zaharov, 46, from Edgewater, New Jersey, asked a lotto store clerk for a $1 New York Lottery scratch-off ticket. Instead, the man mistakenly handed her a $10 Set For Life ticket. That mistake won her $5 Million.

Richard Buss threw the slip in waste paper pile after checking the first draw, but Dione had a last minute doubt and retrieved the winning ticket worth £1.8 million from the bin. Photo: Daily Mail

We all make silly mistakes every day, but fortunately most of them are fixable.

But what happens when you have a $10 million piece of paper without any identification on it, just sitting on your table, ready to blow away in a gust of wind? You'd be shaking in your boots.

Always sign your winning ticket straight after.

The first rule when getting any winning ticket is immediately write on your name, address and sign it. Photocopy it. Then you can breath a little easier.

There are many other problems that can mess up your win. So please read this short list for the essentials and follow each one.

The 10 tips include choosing your game right through to claiming a prize:

The Tickets:

#1 - Check your numbers are entered correctly. You only need do this task once with the Silver Lotto System: Double check that you have entered all the numbers correctly and you have the right number of tickets. One Silverite told us he forgot to throw away his test ticket and played it, so he paid for two sets of numbers - one of which was wrongly filled out. Take the time at the beginning to check your numbers, because it's the only time you need do it.

#2 - Keep your original coupons - the tickets with your Silver Lotto System numbers on - in an envelope, pouch or a folder. I was standing behind a lady in a lottery store one time who pulled out a very wrinkled lottery ticket and it had to be put through the machine twice. They finally entered it manually because it couldn't be read properly and that took a long time. Your tickets are permanent, they have to last a while, so make sure they are protected. I use this custom cover provided from the lottery store, shown in the photo above.

The Game:

#3 - Are you playing the best game for your money? You’ll get better odds with the lowest number of ball numbers, and numbers. If you have a choice of two games with 5 balls and 42 numbers, or 6 balls and 75 numbers, go with the first one. It will usually have lower prize amounts, but the chances of getting a jackpot prize is much higher.

Big queue? Select less popular days to play.

#4 - Are you playing your game on the less popular days? This means fewer players and the chance of sharing less of your prizes with them. Talk with your lotto store to see which games are the least popular, and play those.

#5 - Are you concentrating on one game only? The lottery is one event where it pays to focus on just one game only. Don’t get tempted to spread your tickets round several games... you are just diluting your odds. Stick to one game through thick and thin.

#6 - Make sure you have left enough time to play before the game's deadline.This post is an excellent example of how one player lost $27 million by not meeting the deadline.

#7 - Are you a member of a private lottery syndicate? Make sure you have the rules of play and ownership clearly set out before you buy the tickets. Or get into my Winner's Circle where it's all done for you.

The Win:

#8 - Get your tickets officially checked afterwards by the lottery store’s machine, even if you only have a few, and they don’t appear to be winning tickets. The risk of reading the numbers wrong and missing out on a big prize is too great. Your failing eyesight and smudged tickets could make the difference between $10 and $10 million. There's many examples of winners who thought they'd only won a few thousand dollars - which magically 'turned' into millions - once the numbers were read correctly.

Get your store to check your tickets. Photo: Journal-News

#9 - Get your tickets and receipts back from the lotto store when you win. This will help you later if there is any confusion over the ticket numbers. Don't throw them away, but store them safe for at least a year - the usual cut-off time for claiming a prize.

Not a good idea to let your dog guard your winning tickets!

#10 - If you have winning tickets of any value, keep them in a safe place until you can take them to the store or lottery organisation. The best place is in a bank safe, but sometimes that's not always possible - if you win in the weekend for example. Here’s some ideas for hiding them while you wait to visit the lottery headquarters to collect your check.