When people wish one another luck, they might simply say “good luck”, or they might say “all the best” or “best of luck”. These latter two seem somewhat interchangeable, but are they really? Do they technically have different meanings and uses?
“All the best” is more commonly used as a farewell gesture than its cousin, “best of luck”. It has more of an air of departure or finality in it than simply wishing someone the “best of luck” does. The difference is kind of like saying “goodbye” versus “see you later” – there’s an undertone of expecting more time to pass before seeing the person again than by simply saying “best of luck” or “see you later”.
On the other hand, “best of luck” doesn’t have as much of implication underlying it. This phrase seems more appropriate to use in situations where you are cheering someone on. Again, part of this has to do with the time lapsing between events. Standing on the sideline to cheer someone in a race, it would seem more appropriate to wish them “best of luck” rather than to shout “all the best”. Saying “all the best” would sound more like you do not plan to stick around to watch them race. On the other hand, “best of luck” is more synonymous to “good luck” and could easily imply you plan to stick around to see the outcome. It is not uncommon for phrases like this to have no true distinction, only by popular use.