A guide to picking your lottery numbers that 'might' help you scoop that life-changing rollover jackpot win.
Some people use family birthdays, others use lucky numbers while there are those that swear by a fail-safe “system".
There are almost as many ways of choosing lottery numbers as there are chances of winning it.
With an estimated £7.6 million jackpot up for grabs in tonight's double rollover, picking the right numbers could change your life.
However, the first thing to realise is that the odds are stacked against you.
The chance of winning the National Lottery jackpot is one in 13,983,816 while there is a one in 2.3 million chance of getting five numbers plus the bonus ball.
There is a one in 55,000 chance of five of your numbers being selected by the lottery machine.
To win the Euromillions jackpot there is a one in 116.5 million of all your numbers being drawn.
Is there a way of narrowing those odds? Let's take a look at some of the options:
Picking the most commonly drawn numbers
One approach would be to choose the numbers that come up most often. At the moment the most frequently drawn ball is the number 44 .
Since the National Lottery began in 1994, it has been drawn 253 times.
The other most common numbers are:
38 251 times
40 249 times
23 248 times
39 246 times
33 245 times
However, their frequency of appearance is no indication that they will be drawn together. In fact, the chance of these numbers cropping up in a winning combination is the same as any other set of six.
Choosing the birthdays of family or friends
For those who use birthdays, five of the most commonly drawn numbers are more than 31, meaning they are not likely to have picked them.
Sticking to birthdays certainly limits the range of numbers you can choose and this is a common system, so more people are likely to pick those numbers, meaning you may have to share your prize.
Another approach that is commonly used is to look for numbers that have not come up in a while.
Human intuition tells us that if something has not happened in a while, then it is probably overdue.
Currently the most overdue number is 48 it has not been picked in nearly 81 days. Similarly, the numbers 23 and 46 last appeared 77 days ago.
The 21 ball came up 63 days ago while number 14 was selected 60 days ago and number 2 emerged 56 days ago.
The least picked numbers are 20, 13, 21, 41, 16, and 37.
However, while the concept that things which are overdue will eventually happen makes sense, it does not mean they will when it comes to the National Lottery.
Dr John Haigh, an emeritus professor of mathematics at the University of Sussex who has written a paper on the statistics underlying the National Lottery, said: “Just because a number has not come up for a while does not mean it will in the next draw.
“Just as you flip a coin, if you get five heads in a row, it does not mean the next time it is more likely to be tails. The odds are still 50/50.
“So with the lottery, they remain one in 14 million.”
Like birthdays, this is a common approach, steeped more in superstition than any real logic. But some people are naturally drawn to certain numbers in the same way they may have a favourite colour.
Interestingly the most commonly chosen numbers are those that end in a 7 according to work done by experimental physicist Jonathan Clarke .
The key here is having enough lucky numbers to fill an entire lottery ticket if you have to borrow numbers from someone else then they are not really lucky any more are they?
And if you win, are you going to share the jackpot with them?
Picking previous winning numbers
Analysis of the Swiss lottery revealed has revealed a surprising trend people tend to choose their numbers based on the previous week’s winning numbers.
Others were found to use the jackpot numbers from two weeks before and some further back than that.
Does this make any difference? Sadly, Dr Haigh tells us the odds remain the same. But it does make picking the numbers easier.
Best performing ticket
If you had selected the ticket 03 06 13 23 27 49 in every draw since the National Lottery started you would have won £2,017,671 according to analyst Richard Lloyd .
He has found that this ticket has been the best performing in the history of the lottery so far in terms of the number of prize winning matches.
However, the odds of that combination coming up again remain the same.
Lottery systems and prediction software
There is a multitude of books on sale giving advice about how win the lottery.
For upwards of £20 of your hard earned money, you too can learn how to use complicated maths or systems like wheeling to pick your numbers.
Wheeling, which is one of the most popular systems, involves buying multiple tickets and using seven numbers rather six across those, for example.
Prediction software is also widely available on the internet with accompanying claims of great accuracy.
In fact, none of these have ever been proven to be effective and experts say those that with enough people using these systems, simple statistics says some people will win using them.
Indeed, perhaps the only people who really win from these approaches are the people who pocket the cash being paid for the books in the first place.
Surprisingly, this is seen as the best approach by experts.
Not because it increases your chance of winning, but because it increases your chance of winning MORE.
By selecting numbers that use systems employed by others, it is more likely that other people will also have picked those numbers too.
If your numbers were to win the jackpot, then you would have to share more of your prize with those other people.
Randomly plucking numbers means the combination is least likely to have been selected by someone else.
“If you pick the least popular numbers and win, then you will probably share your jackpot with fewer people,” explains Dr Haigh.
In the ninth ever draw of the National Lottery in 1995, there were a record breaking 133 winners who shared the £16 million jackpot.
Analysis of the numbers revealed an interesting phenomenon all of the numbers were contained within the three inside columns of the playing slip at the time.
There were also no two numbers on the same row nor adjacent to each other. It appears the numbers were selected randomly for the way they looked on the slip.
Dr Haigh says: “This is a really lazy way of choosing numbers as it is an easy thing to do.
“People do like to make pretty patterns on their playing slip.
“Research on the Swiss lottery has also shown that a lot of people select numbers that go diagonally across or down the slip, for example.”
However, Dr Haigh has some final words of wisdom that may help you decide which of these methods to use.
He says: “Whatever method you chose, the chances of your six numbers coming up remain the same. It is ridiculous to think otherwise.”
But remember, if any of these tips actually do result in a jackpot win, I’m more than happy to share some of the prize.