Thunderball is one of the most straightforward games to play if you know your lotteries. Choose five main numbers from 1 to 39 and the Thunderball from 1 to 14 to start. You can win prizes ranging from £3 up to £500,000 by matching all five main numbers and the Thunderball.

How to Win Thunderball

Following these tips can help you win Thunderball and other lotteries more often. See our top strategies to play and win below.

1. All possible Thunderball combinations
The only guaranteed way to win the jackpot every time is to play all possible number combinations. However, the total costs of doing so would far outstrip your price of winning the jackpot, needing to pay up to £40,222,384.02 to cover every single option available.

The jackpot would have to be higher than the cost to play in order to continue running on a regular basis, which isn’t possible with this game since the Thunderball jackpot never changes, with a fixed prize payout of £500,000 every single draw. Luckily it doesn’t matter how many people win the jackpot, the payout will always be the same for each person, so there’s no need to share the top prize.

The “Play All” strategy will never work with Thunderball’s quad-weekly as you end up losing far more than what you would ultimately earn. It’s always a good idea to check the odds to win on a lottery and compare the jackpot to see if it’s worth buying more tickets over the cost. One game that this strategy might work for is the El Gordo lotteries, which only happen twice a year, in Summer and at Christmas.

2. Play combinations of 2’s and 3’s
When it comes to running the numbers, the smartest play is to pay attention to numbers that regularly appear together. Online stats are updated after every draw and an important thing to follow on a weekly basis common number combinations. By playing the hottest combinations, or the most generated combos overall you should be able to stay ahead of the game by winning more frequently than the odds of auto-generated tickets would be able to predict.

3. Don’t play numbers in order
It’s often not a good idea to play numbers in succession. The argument against this is two-fold. The chances of such a combination happening are so slim that it has only happened once in a lottery in recent memory. Despite this fact, a lot of people play numbers that follow each other, such as one, two, three, four, five, or ten, eleven twelve, etc. So if by chance this number combination were ever to occur, the jackpot would be paid so many times that the funds used to pay out prizes would effectively run dry before all the winners came forward. This strategy no-no also applies to numbers that run in series of tens, such as one, eleven, twenty-one, thirty-one and so on. If you play them, be advised that many other people out there are doing the same thing.

4. Play with others to increase your combinations
This method where multiple people play all the different combinations together dramatically increases the overall odds to win. By sharing the numbers across the group you can get closer to the possibility of winning by playing as many combinations as possible. Ticket prices for Thunderball are reasonably priced and games are drawn often, meaning that there are more opportunities to win on a consistent basis when working with others.

5. Don’t use calendar dates
By using special dates such as birthdays or anniversaries, you are limiting the range of numbers you can play. The calendar only has a maximum of 31 days per month, so of the 39 numbers to choose from in the game, you are missing out on 8 of those potential combinations. In the last 50 draws analysed, 37 draws contained numbers above 31, with 9 draws containing two main numbers as being higher and three instances where there was a combination of 3 numbers above the restricted 31 available using the calendar method. So this means overall 74% percent of the time there was at least one number over 31 present in the draw.

When is Thunderball played?

Thunderball games are drawn four nights a week on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays at approximately 8pm. Of all UK lotteries, it’s the most run on a weekly basis and offers a £500,000 jackpot for every one of those four draws, so you can play for jackpots totalling £2 million every week.

When the game was first launched in June 1999, there was only one draw a week on Saturdays. But over time Thunderball has introduced more chances to win, with the latest Tuesday draw being added in the spring of 2018.

Choose which days to play

You can enter to win on Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday or Saturday. You can play on as many days as you like as long as you highlight the days available that you want to enter. There’s no obligation to enter all the draws. You can play any days you like as long the game is running. The order of the game days doesn’t matter so you can choose which draws to enter without needing to mandatorily play on certain days.

Win up to £2M per week

Thunderball prizes do not change from draw to draw and there is no obligation for prizes to be shared, so you receive the advertised prize tier regardless of how many other winners there are. As the prizes are fixed, this also means that the jackpot stays the same for each draw and does not roll over if there are no winners for that draw.

Thunderball Prizes and Odds

You can win from as little as £3, all the way up to the jackpot with Thunderball prizes if the numbers you select are the same as the winning numbers. Match all 6 numbers including the bonus Thunderball to win the £500,000 top prize.

The following table shows all the different ways you can win in Thunderball, along with the odds of winning. Even if you match just the Thunderball and none of the main numbers, you get a prize. The value of your payout increases as you match more numbers.

Prize Categories


Approximate Odds of Winning


Winning Prize


Match 5 numbers + Thunderball



Match 5 numbers



Match 4 numbers + Thunderball



Match 4 numbers



Match 3 numbers + Thunderball



Match 3 numbers



Match 2 numbers + Thunderball



Match 1 number + Thunderball



Match Thunderball



Match 1 number




Thunderball Rule Changes

Thunderball game rules have remained the same since 2010, however other changes have been made over the years. Here you can find a list of all the changes made to the game over its 22-year history.

Thunderball underwent a major rule change on 9th May 2010, with the available numbers increasing from 34 up to 39. A prize was also added for matching just the Thunderball number, and the jackpot was doubled in value from £250,000 up to £500,000. A Friday draw was also introduced, increasing the number of weekly draws up to 3. Following the change of rules, the chance of winning a lower tier prize on Thunderball more than doubled. Starting January 2018 a fourth Thunderball draw was added to the weekly lineup. Replacing the then-current three and ensuring that £2,000,000 would be paid out over 4 draws on a weekly basis.


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