Can you improve your winning chances?

Most statisticians say you can't. Others, especially winners, argue you can. Countless forecasting systems exist, some statistically sound, others less scientific, like dream analysis, numerology, astrology, bias in the draw and good old-fashioned luck. Scientists, including Einstein, have studied luck and conclude there is no such thing in gambling; probability is all there is. Others will tell you differently, including a couple who purchased their ticket in California just after a black cat ran out in front of their car. The cat survived and the couple hurried to buy their lottery tickets, ending up the equivalent of £750,000 richer. And a pools winning relative of mine also says Einstein is wrong, this time. Her one and only entry on the football pools used lucky numbers based on family birthdays and ages, special events, even the disputed birthday of her beloved pet dog. She tells me:

"Everyone said she was born on the 27th. That's what it said on her pedigree form. But instinctively, I felt there'd been a mistake. I later discovered she was born on the 28th. And that was the number I entered on the pools coupon. If I'd put 27, we would have won £10,000 or so. Thanks to the number 28 we won £215,000".

Russian novelist, Leo Tolstoy, also took 28 as his special number. He was born on the 28th of August in 1828 and his eldest son, Sergei, was born on the 28th June. Tolstoy left home for the last time on the 28th of the month and when asked to select poems for 'What Is Art?', he selected those on page 28 of different poetry books. In unpublished extracts of 'The Kreuzer Sonata', Tolstoy writes: 'I was then young and in love. I was 28, and was going to visit my future wife's family to propose to her'.

Odder methods exist for spotting lucky numbers. A regular Australian winner makes her choice based on the first two number-related events that happen to her on the day of the lottery. If she reads that four have died in a car crash and the postman knocks three times at her door, she will use those numbers, three and four in her selection, choosing 3, 4, 33, 34, 43 and 44. For a bonus number she adds the two numbers together, in this case 7.

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