How to increase your chances of winning the National Lottery jackpot
Tonight's National Lottery jackpot has soared to an estimated £50.4 million - the biggest ever Lotto prize.
The Wednesday jackpot is the result of 13 consecutive rollovers - and new rules mean that if there is no winner tonight, the prize must be either won or shared out by Saturday.
But how can you increase your chances of winning?
To be brutally honest, you can't. It's totally random and the chances of picking the winning numbers are ridiculously low: 1-in-45 million.
But you CAN boost your chances of winning big and become rich beyond your wildest dreams, like Belfast woman Iris Jeffrey who won £20.1 million in 2004.
On 14 January 1995, the National Lottery prize was £16 million. But the excited winners had a shock - there were 133 of them. Each won £122,510.
So if you want to win big, all you have to do is beat the players - not the game. Here's how...
Many people choose numbers based on their families' birthdays. But of course these can only go up to 31 - so they're ignoring half the balls.
Pick high numbers
Camelot recently increased the numbers to 59 - but most people won't have changed the regular numbers they've used for years.
And this could be why no one has won the jackpot since 14 November.
Know the popular numbers
The most commonly bought numbers, in order, are 7, 3, 5, 6, 4, 2, 13, 9, 11, 12.
Players tend to pick favourite numbers or what they believe to be unusual sequences. Common tricks include picking last week's numbers, plumping for "unlucky" 13 and choosing 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 in the mistaken belief that others won’t.
Dr John Haigh, a professor of mathematics who has published a paper on the Lottery, says avoid "anything that forms a nice pattern on the selection ticket". Such as a diagonal line or anything that has a sequence to it.
Don't try probability
Best avoided unless you have a maths degree anyway. But those trying to work out which numbers are overdue are falling for the classic gambler’s fallacy - that a run of “heads” means that a “tails” is now more likely, when in fact the 50:50 odds of “heads” or “tails” have not changed.
Lottery balls, just like coins, don't have memories.
So you don't want to share your prize money with a stranger. But have you thought of a family syndicate? If your plan is to share winnings with siblings or pay off your parents' mortgage anyway, then pool together to massively boost your chances of winning the jackpot.
One in five top prizes in the Lotto and EuroMillions are won by syndicates.
Have a long-term strategy
There are two options here:
A. Stop buying a ticket every week and instead save up the money to buy multiple tickets when there is a large jackpot. This maximizes the return without increasing your financial risk.
B. Play as often as you can, with the same numbers every time. Patience is a virtue.
Don't hold out
If no one wins tonight’s jackpot, Camelot will enact new regulations which stipulate that it must be won on Saturday. So, if no one matches all six main numbers, the massive prize will be shared by the players with the most winning numbers.
Belfast Telegraph Digital