Winning the lottery: it’s the ultimate dream for millions of people the world over – and has been for centuries. The very first official lottery in the format we’d recognize today took place in England in 1569, although raffles and similar ‘luck of the draw’ games were taking place long before that.
And with such life-changing sums of money up for grabs, it’s hardly surprising that would-be millionaires and mathematicians alike are fascinated by the idea of predicting the winning numbers ahead of time. The big question, of course, is whether lottery predictions work! We take a look at some of the most popular strategies.
Hot and Cold numbers
As pattern-obsessed creatures, humans are fascinated by numbers which get drawn more (hot) and less (cold) often than others. There are several schools of thought about how these trends could be used when selecting numbers. Some prefer to stick to cold numbers, as they feel they’re ‘overdue’ to show up.
Others swear by selecting a mix of hot, cold and overdue numbers – and this might make a certain amount of sense. By selecting a few numbers from each category, you’re essentially spreading out your selection more randomly, something we’re not good at by ourselves.
Even if you’re pretty level-headed about your chances of actually winning a big lottery, no-one can deny the anticipation itself is pretty fun! For whatever reason, sometimes a set of numbers just seems to ‘speak’ to you, or feel lucky. This is even more the case when those numbers relate back to you as an individual in some way.
Several popular lottery prediction methods involve personalizing your set of numbers in some way. French lotto lucky numbers, for instance, gives you the option of choosing numbers in accordance with your date of birth, zodiac sign and horoscope, or even a recent dream you might have had, such as being able to fly, getting engaged, or being chased by someone. Even if your numbers don’t win, you probably had a lot of fun choosing them – something you don’t get with something like a quick pick.
Odds and Evens
While it’s entirely possible that all the winning numbers might be odd (or even) it is less likely statistically. If you’re picking your own numbers, therefore, one popular technique is to try and choose a spread between odd and even numbers, or add or subtract 1 from some of your choices if you’ve chosen too many odds or evens accidentally.
The big problem with trying to predict lottery numbers
Whatever technique you choose, there’s one big problem with predicting the lottery, and that problem is randomness. You’d think that with today’s advanced machine learning, artificial intelligence and ever-evolving algorithms, computers should be able to crunch all the data and spit out the most likely set of numbers relatively easily. So why can’t they?
One of the problems is how lotto numbers are drawn in the first place. Random number generators, as the name implies, are designed to be the exact opposite of predictable. Not only this, but lotteries use different machines each time too. This adds a whole new level of complication. And as good as lotto number predicting AI may get, remember that it’s also getting better and better at randomizing data too!
Avoid obvious combinations
If this is the case, then why not just play a combination like 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6? Don’t these numbers have just as good a chance of coming up as any other? The debate around this issue is pretty intense, but there is one very big reason not to play this combo – or any other obvious set of numbers: Thousands of people play these numbers every single draw. If it does come up one day, you’ll be splitting your winnings with hundreds and hundreds of other players!
So what are your best chances of winning?
You might have heard that roughly 70% of Powerball winners use the quick pick method. Essentially, you’re playing random numbers in a game which relies on random numbers – so on one level that seems to make sense. That’s not all there is to it, of course, as players who use the Quick Pick also tend to be the players who take part most often.
Finally, another strategy which makes the odds of winning a little bit higher is to buy several tickets for one draw, rather than one ticket in lots of different draws. If you’ve set yourself a monthly ‘allowance’ to spend on lotto tickets, rather play it on as few separate draws as possible. And for the numbers themselves? Use whichever method above felt the luckiest to you!