Thu, 01 Dec 2011 18:36:32 GMT | By Cliff D'Arcy, contributor, MSN Money

How to boost your odds of winning big in the EuroMillions lottery

These 10 hints and tips could help you to win more from Europe's biggest lottery.


How to boost your chances of winning a bigger lottery (© Image © Johnny Green - PA Wire)

British punters have recently bagged some of the biggest prizes ever awarded in lottery history.

In August, Colin and Christine Weir from Ayrshire claimed the record, winning almost £162 million, instantly making them almost as rich as the Beckham family. Then, in early October, Dave and Angela Dawes from Cambridgeshire scooped over £101 million, the third-highest lottery jackpot in UK history.

As a result, Britain seems to have come down with EuroMillions fever, with ticket sales soaring since the summer.

As a mathematician-turned-financial journalist, I will show you how to maximise your chances of being the UK's next EuroMillions mega-millionaire. Here are 10 steps to beat the system and take home 'the Big One'.

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1. You can't beat the odds (1)
EuroMillions balls are drawn randomly (or as near to truly random as mankind can produce). Thus, no matter what you do, you can't improve your odds of winning any EuroMillions prize - other than buying more tickets at £2 a time, of course.

On the right are the odds for all 13 prize levels.

Lottery odds (© MSN Money)

As you can see, the odds of winning the jackpot (by correctly picking all five main numbers plus both Lucky Stars) are nearly 117 million to one, which are astronomically high. For example, if you bought a ticket for both draws every week for 1.1 million years, your chance of winning the jackpot would still be only 63%.

What this table tells you is that 12 in 13 EuroMillions tickets win nothing. In comparison, 53 out of 54 National Lottery tickets get binned.

2. You can't beat the odds (2)
Another problem for punters is that the prize payout from EuroMillions (and the UK's National Lottery) is less than half the money staked. In fact, for every £2 staked, roughly 99p is returned in prizes.

Therefore, £200 million spent on tickets would yield a prize pot of just £99 million. The remaining £101 million would be divided between lottery tax, donations to good causes, retailers and the lottery organisers.

In short, humble mathematics shows that, as a whole, EuroMillions' players lose more than half their money, making this game a very poor gamble!

Which lottery offers the best odds?

3. You can't beat the odds (3)
As EuroMillions balls are drawn randomly, every combination of five main numbers and two Lucky Stars has exactly the same chance of being drawn. Hence, whether you stick with the same numbers, change them or choose Lucky Dips, you can't alter these fixed odds.

However, while you can't beat the underlying odds, you can outdo other players by maximising your chances of scooping a huge prize. To do this, you need to turn to behavioural psychology, rather than statistics. Here's how to exploit human cognitive biases to win bigger prizes:

4. Unlucky seven
In many cultures and religions, the number seven is somehow considered 'lucky'. As a result of this widely held superstition, millions of punters pick this number.

Therefore, cunning EuroMillions players should avoid choosing this popular number as a main ball or Lucky Star, to reduce the chances of sharing with too many other winners.

5. Lucky thirteen
On the other hand, the most common superstition is the belief that the number 13 is unlucky. Consequently, gamblers often avoid betting on 13. However, this 'triskaidekaphobia' is useful, as it means rational punters can confidently pick 13, knowing that superstitious players deliberately avoid it.

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6. Don't bet on birthdays
Each week, millions of punters choose their numbers based on family birthdays. This means that they over-pick the numbers from one to 31 (which represent the days and months of the year).

As these numbers are picked excessively frequently, you should avoid selecting too many numbers under 32. Otherwise, if you do win a major prize, then you might share it with many more winners, reducing your personal payout. Thus, choose at least one main ball between 32 and 50.

7. Wait for rollovers
In the long run, you're likely to lose at least half of your stake money by playing the EuroMillions. What's more, the more tickets you buy, the closer you get towards the true odds.

Therefore, you must pick and choose when you enter. For example, why bother entering a fresh, new draw when the prize is under, say, £13 million? Instead, bide your time and wait for a huge jackpot to build through rollovers.

For example, when the Weirs from Ayrshire won their record £162 million payout on Friday, 8 July 2011, the top prize had rolled over no fewer than 13 times before they scooped it. Recently, the cap for the maximum jackpot was raised to €190 million (£162 million).

Purchase tickets for the EuroMillions lottery now

8. Play special draws
At times, the EuroMillions organisers offer additional prizes to encourage more punters to play. For instance, last Friday's draw created 18 extra millionaires through the UK Millionaire Raffle.

This Millionaire Raffle is exclusive to UK players and exists because tickets cost £2 in the UK, but only €2 (£1.71) in Europe. This extra cash is used to fund a raffle that creates one guaranteed UK millionaire per draw.

As well as last Friday's 17 extra Millionaire Raffle winners, there are 25 guaranteed winners on Friday, 23 December. In effect, these extra prizes will create 50 extra millionaires in one month, giving more incentive to play.

9. Pick Lucky Dips
As all of us have our own little quirks and beliefs, it is hard not to be swayed by these thoughts when choosing lottery numbers. The simplest way to eliminate this personal bias is to trust to dumb luck by buying a Lucky Dip entry. While this random selection doesn't alter your chances of winning, it does remove your own selective bias towards 'special' numbers and patterns.

10. Buy online
Lastly, it would be tragic if you bought a ticket, won a whopping great prize and then were unable to produce your winning playslip. To avoid this 'lost-ticket catastrophe', simply buy your ticket online. Also, when you win, Camelot sends you an email, so you don't have to check the results yourself.

In summary, beating the EuroMillions system isn't about beating the odds. It's all about deciding when and how to play in order to beat other punters and claim a bigger slice of the pie!

Related links
Purchase tickets for the EuroMillions lottery now
Which lottery offers the best odds?
When should you start saving for retirement
Compare savings accounts: earn up to 4.55%
UK's biggest individual lottery winners

27Comments
02/12/2011 09:28
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To summarise, buy online, dont pick lucky numbers,  birthdays, and sequences other people are likely to pick, and use lucky dips and go for larger jackpots more often. He forgets to mention of course that most winners have either won using a Lucky Dip, or by betting the same sequence of numbers over and over again.  Also, dont be too greedy, that is, dont spend more than you can easily afford on the lottery. The chances of winning the big one are still pretty slim.  But we all live in hope.
02/12/2011 11:41
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@James Botton

your logic is flawed, the article is about maximising the prize money if you do win... by picking as uncommon numbers as possible, you reduce the amount of people you have to share the rewards with.

"Anyone who listens to this advice and then cries into a pillow when they see their "lucky" numbers come up is going to be heartbroken"

This may be true, but it is still illogical. Firstly, the chances that their "lucky" numbers come up are so small that this is still very unlikely to happen. And secondly, such a person has no reason to be so upset if their "lucky" numbers any more than if a different random string of numbers, since the loss is the same

" the numbers are random. better to win a share of a prize than none at all!"

this is true, but I don't see what your point is... sure, it is better to win a share of the money than nothing. But that only would be a valid claim if your CHANCES of winning were different, which they are not. it is better to win a share of it than nothing, but it's even better still to win a bigger share

@Someone

you said "He forgets to mention of course that most winners have either won using a Lucky Dip, or by betting the same sequence of numbers over and over again"

But is this not just that these methods are the most common? again, the article is about maximising the potential prize money, not the chances of winning

01/08/2012 14:40
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How do we know that the lottery isn't a big scam? Camelots computers tell them what combination of ball was not picked before they start.. How hard would it be to make the balls that you wanted to drop?? hmmm just a thought.. If nobody takes the jackpot how much profit is made...?  
02/12/2011 13:14
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I think they are a bit short on cash to pay out the extra millionaires raffles, if you read it carefully and understand it, there is no way of beating the system! It is pure luck if you win, the advice above is basically telling you to play euromillions. It costs twice as much to play as our own, and in a recession, can people afford to waste money? This is just a clever marketing ploy from the lottery

02/12/2011 11:17
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Its a game, just a game, don't be a bad loser, you might just be a winner and if you do win don't go mad and let it ruin your life.
02/12/2011 11:16
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This doesn't make any sense! You cant boost your chances by avoiding numbers. That theory is " no I wont share a big prize but wait and win it all to myself". That's not possible. Anyone who listens to this advice and then cries into a pillow when they see their "lucky" numbers come up is going to be heartbroken. There is no pattern or reasoning to it. the numbers are random. better to win a share of a prize than none at all!
11/11/2012 20:06
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actually the author of this article is wrong. you can use statistics to improve your chances of winning. if you look at scratch cards you would think it is impossible to win on them though it has been done. An American woman has won multi-million dollar jackpots four times between 1993 and 2010.

Joan Ginther, who got a PhD in statistics from Stanford university, has amassed a fortune of about $17.9m (£12m).

now tell me that was all luck? considering what her degree is in it is far more likely she found a way of working out where the winning scratch cards would be and how to spot them etc. this can be done as i have found a way of predicting winning scratch cards in the uk but only on one game. though this does not mean can win the jackpot, only that i can see if the card is a winner before scratching it. 

i also refer you to a book called lottery master guide written by gail howard. no i am not trying to sell it, i am not her lol. she has analised results going back years in over 190 different lotto games from around the world and has discovered some curious results. such as in a typical 6 from 49 game etc in more than 90% of draws the results are some even and some odd. they hardly ever tend to be all odd or all even.

usually 4 odd & 2 even

or        2 odd & 4 even

or        5 odd & 1 even

or        1 odd & 5 even

also other results include in more than 85% of draws the winning numbers tend to be spread across all the groups ie you never tend to have all 6 winning numbers in the 20's or 30's etc. they tend to be some from each.

also in more than 80% of results the winning numbers tend to have 1 number at least that has appeared within the last 5 draws. that shoots up to over 90% in the last 10 draws. there are many other odds you can play so by using these odds you can increase your chances of winning, thus lowering the odds.

also there are wheels etc. i can guarantee getting 3 numbers from 6 for the cost of £165. or guarantee getting 2 numbers on one line for £19.

so it is only matter of time before someone works out how to get all 6 numbers on one line for not much money. the closest i have got is that i can get all 6 winning numbers and have them spread across 3 lines(2 on each) for £45. so 45 lines in total. i can not at moment get them onto the same line without increasing greatly the cost.

so it can be done, only a matter of when not if

02/12/2011 10:41
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Didn't know this conversation was about you being single SF UD... Tought it was about the lottery

14/11/2012 15:24
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Technically this article is completely right when it indicates that the only way to guarantee winning the main prize in a lottery is to enter more combinations of numbers in a single draw. 

 

HOWEVER if you analyse all the results to-date of the Euromillions lottery then you come up with the following interesting statistics:

 

Main Balls (Numbers 1 to 50)

 

16 numbers account for more than 80% of the 1st ball numbers

24 numbers account for more than 80% of the 2nd ball numbers

24 numbers account for more than 80% of the 3rd ball numbers

24 numbers account for more than 80% of the 4th ball numbers

16 numbers account for more than 80% of the 5th ball numbers

 

Star Numbers (1 to 11)

 

6 numbers account for more than 80% of the 1st Star numbers

6 numbers account for more than 80% of the 2nd Star number

 

(where the 1st ball/star corresponds with the lowest number, the 2nd with the next largest and so on)

 

So what does this mean? Well, to put it another way, if you just look at the lowest Main ball number of each of the combinations that have come up to-date, more than 80% of the balls came from only 16 numbers while less than 20% came from the other 34 numbers. Bearing in mind that to win the jackpot, you need to get all of the balls right, then to-date, if you’d chosen one of these 16 numbers, you’d have had over 4 times more chance of winning the main prize compared to choosing one of the other 34 numbers.

 

And it gets better. Taking all seven numbers into account (the Main balls and the Star numbers), there are 27,967,632,000 different combinations and you have a 1 in 116,531,800 chance of your combination coming up. However, if we only take the set of numbers indicated above (i.e. those which fit into the 80% or more category), then the number of combinations reduces to 127,401,984 and your chance of hitting the right combination is 1 in 530,842.

 

Now, the not so good news is that to-date, approximately 65% of the combinations that have come up so far have been outside this subset of 117,006,336 combinations. But the good news is that approximately 35% have been within it. So to put it another way, if you had used a set of numbers that lay within this subset of 117,006,336 combinations, then on average, approximately every third draw, your chance of hitting the jackpot would have been 1 in 530,842 rather than 1 in 116,531,800 (which is 219 times more chance of getting it right).

 

Of course, compared to how many different combinations there are, we've only scratched the surface when we look at past results.  Over time maybe we'll see that approximately 50% of the 1st balls come from approximately 50% of the numbers.  And everyone will tell you that past results cannot be used to predict future results.  And in theory I'd have to agree - but then I tell myself that it's just not possible to produce anything that is truly random.  

 

So, I've put the above analysis into a little program and I use it to come up with numbers for me.  After all, at worst I'm no worse off since any set of numbers will be as good as any other set, and at best I'm significantly better off.  Odds of 1 in 530,842 while still being large are far far better than odds of 1 in 116,531,800.  To-date I've won quite a few small prizes around the £10 figure and the largest prize to-date has been around £120 - so the big prize still eludes me.   But I'll keep trying.

 

If anyone wants to get a copy of my program, then use the following terms to search on ebay and you should find it: "euromillions" and "improve your chances". 

 

The program also has built in analysis for the UK Lotto and the USA MegaMillions though the improvement for those lotteries isn't as much as for the Euromillions.


02/12/2011 14:46
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if the natiopeople at the national lottery read this i would request that more money must be paid out when fewer numbers are drawn.people willget out of debt easily.like 100 pounds for 2 numbers drawn .this could be done 4 times a year
02/12/2011 13:27
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I play twice a week my £ 4......I want to donate to charity and I know the money is used by Camelot in a good way as to the other Charities that take 90%  for admin fees and give only 10% to charities in so called need. Plus the money stays in the country.....This way I get 5 Brownie points should I go to heaven or hell if there is a place like that according to my Religious friends. Should I win I will have more friends all of a sudden...don't know why it happens.....at least I played the game and have some change of winning something.
02/12/2011 15:14
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@Stephen Gault

surely ANY article about maximising profit through gambling would be about fuelling people's greed, but people are greedy by nature. This article doesn't convince me enough to play the lottery, not because I do not care about the prize money, but because I DO care about how I'd most likely LOSE money if I did
02/12/2011 13:11
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I agree with most of the comments on here, this was a waste of a few minutes of my life that I will never get back! What a load of ****! This is all common sense gibberish, of course most of us use birthdays as numbers, although having said that it is true that when a rollover happens on the lottery, its usually because there is at least one number over 31. This whole article is not about increasing your chances, its about satisfying peoples greed. Am not saying I would say no to the jackpot of £162 million won at the summer but I would have been over the moon with a lot less. Be happy with what you have, its reality!

02/12/2011 13:44
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Right, I won't even argue you are much smarter than me and more successful...however, for a mathematician-turned-financial journalist, you're clearly giving stupid advice. Getting a number 24 (random number) carries the same odds as getting a number 13...or am I wrong.

 

You probably are not to blame Cliff D'Arcy, but your editor is a clearly a ****.

 

Tips, for winning the lottery, 1: play the lottery. 2. Dont forget point 1.

02/08/2013 04:04
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Hi guys, after reading each and everyone of your comments, it would be selfish by me, not to open up myself to you, speaking about some lottery life experience. There is absolutely no doubt that luck plays a big role when it comes to winning a lottery jackpot, but no one can also deny that, strategy exists and works. I myself, strongly believe that, these two go along together. My own brother, who just wrote an Euromillions lottery book based only on strategy, using just the same method that is in his book; missed not once but, twice, the lottery jackpot. how did he missed them? luck, luck was not on his side, how come? well, easily, having as usual his tickets ready, didn't get to go and play them. Well guys, this is it. Thank you for listening me and good luck to each and everyone of you who play and dream of one day becoming the next millionaire. take care.
05/12/2011 17:30
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this man is not trained to issue financial advice..anything he says should be taken as light hearted speculation only.
08/05/2013 14:51
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This site has a huge range of statistical information on the Euromillions lottery including this extremely useful lottery odds calculator > www.lottonumbers.net
02/08/2013 08:12
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Hi guys, after reading each and everyone of your comments, it would be selfish by me, not to open up myself to you, and share my  lottery life experience. There is absolutely no doubt that luck plays a big role when it comes to winning a lottery jackpot, but no one can also deny that, strategy exists and works. I myself, strongly believe that, these two go along together. My own brother, who just wrote an Euromillions lottery book based only on strategy, using just the same method that is in his book; missed not once but, twice, the lottery jackpot. how did he missed them? luck, luck was not on his side, how come? well, easily, having as usual his tickets ready, didn't get to go and play them. Well guys, this is it. Thank you for listening me and good luck to each and everyone of you who play and dream of one day becoming the next millionaire. take care.
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