If you'd like to boost your winnings from the lotteries you play, then try these three tricks.
So how can you improve your chances of winning a jackpot?
Before I go on to explain how to boost your returns, I should point out that I never play lotteries. That's because, mathematically speaking, they are an extremely poor gamble, as I warned in Nine reasons to shun the lottery. Nevertheless, I know how popular they are, so here are three tips on maximising your winnings:
1. Avoid the birthday blunder
One thing I certainly can't do for you is pick winning numbers. After all, Lotto draws are entirely random, so all combinations of six numbers have an equal chance of winning. In other words, the winning numbers are just as likely to be 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 as they are to be 29, 31, 37, 41, 43 and 47*.
However, a large proportion of Lottery players enter the same 'special' numbers into each draw. Instead of using the Lucky Dip feature to pick five or six random numbers, many regulars use family birthdays. In other words, all of their numbers are under 32, because they correspond to days of the month.
Thus, the idea here is to boost your returns from the larger prizes -- payouts for picking four, five, five plus bonus, and six numbers. (Note that picking three numbers never wins you more than a tenner.)
2. Play Rollover draws
Sounds obvious, but you'll win more when the jackpot's a rollover. What's more, the windfall will be boosted by millions of people buying extra tickets simply because it is a rollover draw.
3. Play Superdraws
My third tip if you want to win big is to enter the bumper draws which offer guaranteed jackpots.
In order to boost publicity for the National Lottery, Camelot organises special Superdraws. For these draws, Camelot uses spare cash from its massive reserves to guarantee bumper payouts.
For example, the Big Draw 2000 on 31 December 1999 produced a record-breaking eighteen millionaires in a single night. What a way to begin the 21st Century -- winning £1,000,000, the lucky scamps!
Finally, I should reiterate that none of these techniques will increase your chances of winning. Indeed, there is no way to increase your chances of winning, other than buying more tickets.
To win the EuroMillions jackpot, you need to pick five correct numbers from one to 50, plus two more numbers from one to nine. Your chance of doing this is (50 x 49 x 48 x 47 x 46 x 11 x 10) / (5 x 4 x 3 x 2 x 2) = 116,531,800 to one.
In other words, you have a one-in-116-million chance of getting all seven numbers right and scooping the Big One. These astronomical odds are worth putting into context: if you buy a EuroMillions ticket before noon, then you are more likely to die before the day is out than to win the jackpot.
As for the UK Lotto, to win the jackpot, you need to pick all six balls draw from numbers one to 49. The odds of doing this are (49 x 48 x 47 x 46 x 45 x 44) / (6 x 5 x 4 x 3 x 2) = 13,983,816 to one.
What the above tricks might do is to increase the size of your winnings in the (unlikely) event that you win one of the higher-ranking prizes. Frankly, for the best returns, you're best off not playing the Lottery at all!
(*Although this second sequence appears to be random, it isn't. It consists of the six largest prime numbers below 49. You see how easy it is to distinguish between identifiable patterns and random sequences?)
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