The only way to guarantee winning the lottery is to buy enough tickets to cover every number combination. For Lotto that would mean purchasing 45,057,474 tickets, and for EuroMillions you’d have to buy 139,838,160 lines. Imagine the queue behind you in the newsagents!
Keen players have formulated all sorts of systems for maximising their chances of winning the jackpot over the years; some are scientific while some are a bit more fun. Here are a few of the different ways you can improve your chances of winning.
Written by Sam Weren
A lottery syndicate is formed when a group of people join together to buy tickets. In a traditional syndicate, you might team up with friends, work colleagues or family members and agree on how many entries you wish to purchase. All members of your syndicate contribute money towards the tickets, and in the event that you win a prize, the winnings are shared among you. It allows you to have a stake in multiple lines, therefore improving your chances of winning, without requiring you to spend more money.
It is estimated that 1 in 5 lottery prizes are won by syndicates, just like the group of Scottish nurses who won £1 million on EuroMillions in April 2018, and another hospital syndicate – the Catering Girls from Wales - who landed £25.4 million in November 2017.
You can also join syndicates online to boost your chances of winning. All the hard work is done on your behalf so there is no need to find other people to play with. Find out more about playing lotteries as a group by visiting the Lottery Syndicate page.
How to Choose Lottery Numbers
Everyone has their own method for picking lottery numbers. Some players believe that if they put more thought into their selection, it will give them a better chance than if they choose randomly. Picking numbers based on significant dates makes it easier to remember the lines you play, but means you cannot win the jackpot if the numbers 32 and upwards are drawn. Furthermore, a lot of people use this method, so there is more chance that you would have to share a prize if your numbers came up.
Similarly, many players pick numbers in a pattern, with 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6 said to be one of the most popular combinations on Lotto tickets. Multiples of so-called lucky numbers like 7 are also popular. When the numbers 7, 14, 21, 35, 41 and 42 were drawn on Wednesday 23rd March 2016, there were 4,082 players who matched five numbers, so each winner only received £15. In the draw before that, the numbers drawn did not have any notable pattern to them, so there were just 55 winners in the same tier, each winning £1,896.
Systems can increase your chances of winning by allowing you to cover all the number combinations within a certain range. For example, if you play Lotto, where six numbers are drawn, you can pick seven or more numbers and enter every combination of them as a separate line. This would give you seven entries into the draw. A system where you choose the numbers 1-7 would produce the following lines:
- 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6
- 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7
- 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 7
- 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 7
- 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 7
- 1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7
- 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7
As well as increasing your chances of winning the jackpot, systems can increase the prize money you receive when winning the smaller prizes. For example, if you were to play the system above and the winning numbers were 1, 2, 3, 5, 10, and 11, every single one of your lines would win a cash prize as they all match at least three numbers.
Remember, though, that you must pay for every line of numbers you enter, so playing systems can be expensive. As you can see from this example, however, doing so unlocks much bigger prizes.
Many players like to look for trends and patterns from previous draws to help them decide which numbers to play in the future. Lottery.co.uk provides comprehensive statistics for each lottery, including the most common, least common and most overdue numbers. It should be noted, however, that every ball has the same chance of appearing in each draw, regardless of how many times it has appeared in the past. Each draw is a unique and random event which is not influenced by past draws and which has no influence on what will happen in future draws.
The Pyramid Plan
The Pyramid Plan allows you to assign numbers to letters so you can use your name, your pet’s name or maybe even your favourite football team to choose your numbers. It’s not scientific in any way but it is a fun way of generating lottery numbers, and it is not restricted to any range like memorable dates are.
Using the grid below, find the corresponding number for each letter of your memorable word. For example, if you chose the word ‘Manchester’, you would select the numbers 4, 1, 5, 3, 8, 5, 3, 4, 5 and 9. You can then pair some of the numbers together to give you a valid selection for the game you are playing. You need six numbers for Lotto between 1 and 59, so you could play 41, 53, 8, 5, 34 and 59.
Even if you don’t fancy joining a syndicate, playing a system or trying another method to pick your numbers, there are some other considerations you can bear in mind to help you when you play.
You could look out for the games with the shortest odds rather than the biggest jackpots. The ‘shortest’ odds are those with the lowest ‘1 in X’ chance of winning, so 1 in 10 gives you a better chance than 1 in 20. The odds of winning the £500,000 Thunderball jackpot, for example, are far better at 1 in 8,060,598 than the odds of 1 in 139,838,160 for the EuroMillions jackpot.
EuroMillions might have longer odds, but it also offers a number of guaranteed prizes. One player in the UK wins £1 million in every draw thanks to the Millionaire Maker Raffle, and in some special draws there are even more prizes of £1 million put up for grabs. Look out for games which come with guaranteed awards, or special draws when there are extra ways to win. A lot of the time you’re entered into these supplementary draws automatically when you buy a ticket for the main game, so you’re essentially getting an extra chance to win for free.
Play regularly to give yourself a better chance of winning. Many lottery providers offer subscriptions for lottery tickets, so you can set up regular payments to be entered into every draw in a certain period. If you play the same numbers in each draw this would mean that you would avoid the chance of missing out on a prize if your numbers came up in the week that you forgot to buy a ticket.