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Alternative Lottery Strategies

Lucky Charms, Superstition, and Prayer

Sometimes all the numbers and astrological charts in the world won't give you any more peace of mind when it comes to playing the lottery. Sometimes, you might want to have a little faith.

Lucky Charms and More

Charms, amulets, and talismans are believed by some to have magical powers. Traditionally, they are carried on one's person, or around one's neck, or the object is touched in some way in order for it to work. This touching of the lucky object is a belief in many cultures. In Mexico and other Latin American countries, you must touch a person or item that you verbally admire or risk invoking El Ojo, the Evil Eye. For instance, don't tell a woman in a grocery store that her baby is cute unless you give the child a small pat or tweak his toe.

American Indian lore is filled with charmed objects, such as the Navajo mandalas--which are amulets composed of feathers, leather, and fur -- and the shamanic or totem animals.

Traditional folklore includes some common charms you've probably seen or used before, such as an old copper penny, a silver coin, a four-leaf clover, a rabbit's foot, or a horseshoe. Even another person can be a lucky charm. Virginia resident Andy Bownnleur rubbed the shoulders of a friend who'd already won the Lotto and then became a $2 million winner himself.

A car turned out to be a lucky charm for Johnny and Becky Taylor. They bought a GMC van that had been previously owned by a Florida Lotto winner. Now they themselves are $7.9 million Lotto winners, and they give credit to the car for their good fortune.


Divination is the art of foretelling the future by means of auguries, signs, and omens. In ancient times, soothsayers inspected animal bones and entrails to make predictions. This was called haruspication. Ancient Greeks threw wine into a basin and then observed the splash pattern. This was called kottabos. Polynesians would spin a coconut or niu to determine one's fate. And ancient Romans used knucklebones or astragali, which are similar to our dice.

What are some methods you might try (in case you dislike wasting good wine or are fresh out of entrails)? Create your own divination techniques. You could toss a coin, throw dice, pick cards from a deck of playing cards, or try bibliomancy. This is the system of using a favorite book or the Bible to pick your numbers. You open it to any page and then use numbers found on that page. Bernie Bobowicz of Clifton, New Jersey was going through his mother's old Bible and saw some numbers. Then he got a funny feeling -- a voice inside telling him to play those numbers. He won $7 million in the New York Lotto.


Many people today consider superstitions quaint. Some had their beginnings in ancient religions or the occult arts. Others were based on logic, according to what was then believed as fact. For instance, your reflection was considered part of your soul; thus breaking a mirror would be a disaster. Other beliefs originate in the folklore of different lands. The origins of still others have become lost in the dim past. Here are some common and not-so-common superstitions you might use when picking numbers:
  • Knock on wood as you select those numbers. The Druids believed that spirits dwelt inside of trees, so they knocked on wood to summon the spirits.

  • Cross your fingers for luck. This was most likely derived from the Christian cross.

  • Wear red clothing when you buy your ticket. In Chinese folklore, the color red (along with loud noises) frightens evil spirits away.

  • Never play all odd numbers on one play. Chinese custom says the world is ruled by two principles, Yin and Yang. Odd numbers are Yang and belong to the gods, while even numbers are Yin and belong to humans. If you select all odd numbers, you would anger the gods.
Shawnda Kilpatrick, a student at Howard University in Washington, D.C., was temporarily working in her hometown of Houston. She was one of the eight lucky winners of the Win for Life instant game that pays $1,000 a week for life. She says her mother had made her and her brothers put black-eyed peas in their pockets on New Year's Day.

Here are some more superstitious ways to pick numbers:
  • When you fill your car with gas, check out the numbers -- price and gallons -- on the pump. Use those digits on the ticket you buy at the gas station.

  • While filling out the play slip, look at the clock and play the current time.

  • If you take your temperature or take your blood pressure, play those numbers.

  • Try the jersey numbers of your favorite athletes.

  • If there's a blue moon (a second full moon in a month), buy an extra ticket.

  • Play the address of the lottery retailer.

  • Brides are considered lucky. If you attend a wedding, ask the bride to pick some numbers for you.

  • Use a Chinese version of Quick Picks -- play fortune cookie numbers.

  • Try your license plate or vehicle ID numbers.

  • If you become stuck in a traffic jam, play the numbers on the license plate of the vehicle ahead of you.

  • If you're the parent or grandparent of twins, play numbers with the value of two.

  • Horse racing fan? Use your favorite horse's race number, prerace odds, starting position number, or finish position. If he wins, places, or shows, play the payoff amount.

  • Wear your birthstone while picking numbers and buying lottery tickets. Rub the gem for luck. This is an especially lucky thing to do on your birthday.

Not everyone would think it appropriate to appeal to a deity for something as mercenary as winning the lottery. Then again, maybe you feel you have a special use for the money. When it comes to the long odds of beating the lottery, you can certainly use a little help from high places.

While these methods might seem a little extreme to you, wait till you see our next section. Read on to learn about ESP, dreams and other unexplained mysteries.