Which Approach Is Best?
How to Choose Lotto Numbers
In theory winning the lottery is simple; you just guess the right numbers ahead of the draw and win millions. In practice, however, predicting the numbers is no easy task. Everyone has their own approach, though generally these boil down to five different approaches. But which approach is the best?
Each of these different approaches promises the same result from very different means. Some seem sensible on the surface, others seem downright outlandish; but are any of them truly worthwhile? Is there any way to accurately predict upcoming numbers, or at the very least improve your chances? Or is it, exactly like they say, just the luck of the draw?
In this article we're going to take a pragmatic, straight-talking look at each method to see if any of these approaches carry any weight.
The Lucky Number Approach
Without a doubt the Lucky Number approach is the most common method for picking lottery numbers. Science has also proven that, even without trying, as pattern-seeking creatures we are neurologically predisposed to pick numbers that have significance to us – even if we're not consciously aware of it.
This is a topic that comes up time and time again when discussing the lottery. The reality is that all luck is relative and lucky numbers are no exception. What's lucky for me might be unlucky for you – and vice versa – so who's really to say what's really lucky?
This takes the lucky number approach and tries to ground it in something tangible and relatable – namely important dates such as birthdays and anniversaries. The birth date of one's first child, for example, can naturally be associated with good fortune, though not necessarily beyond the context of that individual event.
The Lucky Number Approach - Pros/Cons
No matter how you look at it, the lucky number approach offers no advantages beyond the sentimental. Of course this is not to say you shouldn't continue using them. Your numbers have the same chance as any other set of being drawn but you also have the added benefit positive association. Jan, our millionth customer, for example, told us that he likes to bet with his father's numbers. He's not alone. Most people who choose lucky numbers do so because it enhances their enjoyment of the game by allowing them to feel a deeper connection with it, not because they expect to win with those numbers specifically.
The obvious disadvantage of lucky numbers is that you're far more likely to share winnings with other players. Just ask the 26,000-odd Lost fans who decided to have a go at MegaMillions with character Hurley's "cursed" lotto numbers. In a twist worthy of the show itself the numbers did indeed turn out to be winners, but since so many people had used identical numbers each player only got $150 USD each.
It's a similar story with choosing dates; you increase your chances that others will pick the same numbers as you while also simultaneously reducing your options to a maximum of 31.
The Statistical Approach
Lucky numbers – hah! We make our own luck in this world!
Those who champion the statistical approach have no time for sentimentality and prefer to crunch the numbers. They believe in an ordered universe where everything follows specific patterns – even the lottery.
Hot and Cold Numbers
Again this is another topic that we get asked about a lot. In a nutshell; hot lottery numbers are those that get picked a lot, cold numbers are ones that don't. Those who subscribe to hot number theory believe that the numbers that get picked a lot are lucky, and should therefore be used as much as possible. Those who believe in cold number theory, meanwhile, believe that rarely drawn numbers are overdue to be drawn in the future.
The Statistical Approach - Pros/Cons
"You can come up with statistics to prove anything", Homer Simpson once said, "forty percent of all people know that." We couldn't agree more.
Although the statistical approach to picking lottery numbers may seem more scientific, there's nothing scientific about it since there is no correlation between the results of one draw and the next.
The Systematic Approach
Some players aren't convinced by luck or statistics but instead become enamoured with so-called lottery systems. There are lots of different ones out there, ranging from simple patterns to expensive books and software, though once again none can guarantee wins.
An X, a cross, a line, a heart – you can mark your ticket out in any shape you want. Truth is whichever pattern you choose your chances of winning are no better or worse than any other method. Only problem is you may be underestimating how many people are using the exact same patterns and therefore picking the exact same numbers you are, so if you do win you may have to share with lots of other players.
Books and "Systems"
Let's just come right out and say it – these are scams. If there was a guaranteed way to win the lottery then the last thing these self-styled lottery gurus would be doing is telling the public how to do so. Surely there's more money to be made actually winning multiple jackpots than selling others your secret.
Lottery Number Software
This is perhaps a more sophisticated type of scam that, on the surface, may seem reasonable because the sales copy reads so good, it's got lots of testimonials and so on, but, seriously, come on! If somebody managed to develop software that really could predict the lottery they wouldn't share it with anybody. You're basically talking about a real, digital crystal ball which, logically, could also be used to predict the stock market, the weather, everything! It's the stuff of science fiction.
The Systematic Approach: Pros/Cons:
Using simple patterns and/or systems to pick numbers will invariably result in shared wins since you're guaranteed not to be the only person using that method. Beware, too, of snake oil salesmen selling expensive lottery pick solutions or software that's nothing more than an overdressed random number generator.
The Mystical Approach
Although I don't want to trample on anyone's beliefs, there is scant evidence to support horoscopes, numerology, dream interpretation or psychic providence and absolutely zero incidences of it having any bearing on one's ability to win the lottery.
These ancient belief systems stem from our ancestors' limited understanding of mathematics and the cosmos. The Zodiac has been debunked; we now know that there are far more constellations in the sky. Numerology, meanwhile, is a pseudo-science dating back to the days when the most sophisticated computational tools available were clay tablets and abacuses.
Dreams & Psychics
You may dream a set of numbers, or experience déjà vu while picking a set, though there is zero scientific evidence to support that it will have any impact on things that have yet to happen.
The Mystical Approach - Pros/Cons
Other than the fact that these methods have long-since been debunked you need to ask yourself; if psychics really did exist why are they working in crappy call centres all day when they could just pick the winning numbers and become millionaires? At best your chances of winning are no better or worse than any other method, except if you do win the first thing you'll want to do is pay off your phone bill.
The Sensible Approach
When you're talking about money the sensible approach is always the best approach. Of course if you prefer to choose your lucky numbers, and feel that doing so enhances your lottery enjoyment, then that's your personal choice.
That said, as an industry leader who deals exclusively in online lotteries, we're in a unique position to give advice to lottery players. On this particular topic we always advise players to use Quickies.
The probability of any given set of numbers being drawn is equal. The probability that other players will also choose those numbers is not. So better to have a set of fully-random numbers, less likely to be picked by other players, to reduce the risk of shared wins. After all, the draw itself is random, so picking your numbers at random makes sense too.
Players who want to have the best of both worlds – and increase their chances of winning – should bet with system bets. These allow you to bet with more than the standard amount of numbers (e.g. more than six regular numbers for Saturday Lotto) therefore increasing your odds of winning exponentially.
What we've noticed many players do is start off with randomly generated numbers – by clicking the Quicky +1 button – then adding their own special lucky numbers in combination with those picks.
System bets cost more because you're adding multiple combinations (think of it like having a bunch of different lottery tickets each with a related series of numbers) which is precisely why it's favoured by syndicates.
Betting with a syndicate, incidentally, is much easier than you might think. We've even created a special guide to help you start your own syndicate including advice on setting up a syndicate agreement. So there's nothing stopping you from embarking on one of the most successful methods of winning the lottery!