Top tips for playing the lottery, by a Professor of Maths
This weekend is the National Lottery's 15th birthday. So we asked Marcus du Sautoy, Professor of Maths at the University of Oxford, to tell us some top tips for lottery players. Watch the video above.
Marcus du Sautoy writes: When people discover that I'm a mathematician they often ask me whether I know any clever way to win the lottery. Unfortunately I can't produce a magic formula that will tell you next week's winning numbers. If I could I assure you I wouldn't be writing for The One Show's website. I'd be relaxing on some tropical island enjoying myself. But that's not to say that mathematics is entirely useless when it comes to playing the lottery.
A bit of maths can help you to maximize your winnings in case you do hit the jackpot and avoid what happened in the 9th week of the National Lottery when 133 people chose the winning numbers and had to share the £16,293,830 jackpot. The key is to choose numbers that no one else is likely to choose
Tip 1. Clump your numbers together. When people pick numbers they rarely choose consecutive numbers like 31 and 32. But just like buses, lottery balls often arrive in pairs. The maths says that nearly half of the 13,983,816 possible choices have consecutive numbers.
Tip 2. You might take tip 1 to the extreme and choose 1,2,3,4,5,6. Don't. Amazingly 10,000 people are estimated to choose these numbers each week so you'll end up sharing the jackpot with a lot of people.
Tip 3. Pick numbers above 31. People like picking significant dates like birthdays or anniversaries. So the numbers 32 to 49 are not so popular.
Tip 4. Avoid multiples of lucky number 7. The seven times table is a popular choice as punters believe it makes their ticket luckier than others.
Having given you my tips of course the whole thing could backfire. If everyone follows them and chooses high consecutive numbers you'll end up sharing your winnings with lots of other readers. Probably the best course of action is to let the machine randomly pick your numbers. It's not superstitious and probably doesn't read the BBC website.
Marcus du Sautoy is Professor of Maths at the University of Oxford and author of Finding Moonshine: A Mathematician's Journey Through Symmetry. He is reunited next week with Alan Davies in BBC Horizon's How Long is a Piece of String.
More information - recommended weblinks
- Pick a number - The Times.
- The lottery - Understanding Uncertainty.
- The UK National Lottery - a guide for beginners.
- Draw history for Lotto.
- BBC: How Long is a Piece of String?
Are you certain you'll win the lottery? Share your tips with us all here!