Rational lottery

If one were to buy a lottery ticket, what would be rational choices to make when buying it?

A short definition of this hypothetical lottery:

It's a popular one with a fairly cheap ticket, the prize you can win is very large but winning it is very unlikely, and the numbers are free to choose - essentially something very similar to the Eurojackpot.

The question is about rational choices when buying the ticket. It's not an option not to buy the ticket, although that would arguably be very rational. The question is also not about a rational way to spend the winnings, or what to do with the winnings in general - too broad, too often discussed and not interesting.

I came up with three different choices one could make that could be called "rational", and they all involve the way you choose the numbers. I'll add them later.

What choices can you guys think of? And can anyone guess any of the three choices I thought of?

(The point of this is to start a discussion for entertainment* - it could've just been another "random showerthought" if I had posted the question and one of the answers I thought of.)

*Yes, I'm entertained when thinking about this kind of stuff - judge me if you want. :D
I buy lottery tickets sometimes just for the small rush you get when you check if you won anything. I know the return % is very low but the feeling justifies the small cost for me.
I thought of this. You're buying a small feeling of excitement, but are you not also buying a small disappointment?

I would argue the good feeling is definitely worth the small amount of money, but is the good feeling also worth the bad feeling that follows?

I guess one way to think of this in terms of my question in the journal would be to ask yourself: is it rational to also invest emotions when buying the ticket (essentially what you're doing), or would it actually be more rational to just throw away the ticket or give it as a gift to someone after you buy it (the latter sounds like a nice way to risk feeling some regret if the ticket happens to be a winner...)?

(The base assumption was that you're buying the ticket regardless of anything else.)
I've already lost the 5 euros or whatever when I check whether I've won, so it's not really disappointing since you don't actually lose anything at that point, you can only gain (since you already paid for the ticket).

I never buy lottery tickets as gifts; if they don't win, it's an useless gift. If they do win, I'll just be salty that I didn't scratch that one myself!
The latter point I can understand completely.

The first things you said I have a little trouble wrapping my mind around. How can you feel any kind of rush or excitement, if you don't expect to win at least on some level? And if you do expect that you can win, then you can, or at least I would, feel a little bit of disappointment when I find out that my expectation or hope was for nothing.

I suppose it's a bit about personality too, or how you think about things.
I think it is not very rational to buy more than one ticket for one "game". The odds of winning will not increase at all, but you just pay extra euros each week. The feeling of having more than one ticket will make you think that your odds of winning are much much higher, but they are not. It also makes the disappointment bigger.

But I won 50€ last week. Woo
Rationally, if you want to win, it's better to buy more tickets at once rather than spread them into several weeks/draws
G-Clon the brain :>
Finally some appreciation <3
also, what's up? :)
I am jobless!!!! But I am writing my PhD thesis and plan on finishing in the next month.

How is you?
Funny how Priit's and GreenClon's comments are the exact opposite. I wonder what logic you guys used to come up with these ideas. :D
I think he is maximizing the excitement you spoke about above. Or rather minimize disappointment :D Which I think is fair point and the only really rational reason to play lottery (if you play to win, you'r gonna have baaaad time).
On the other hand, I was trying to maximize chance of winning (in case you really did try to win). He wasn't right in the statement of odds not increasing at all. They do increase. Still the chance of you winning is tiny, but higher (if you had two bets on two rolls of coinflip - would you rather bet once for each coinflip or twice on one coinflip? one results in 75% chance of winning, the other 100% - and this is the same, just with lower odds)
Useful, interesting.

Worth those three characters and few mouse clicks? Maybe... I don't know anything...
Playing lottery is most likely not useful because it's payout percentage is very low. In Finland for example the payout percentage is 39,1 percent (according to some site). So if you pay 100euros for lottery you will get back 39,1euros average. Most likely less because that percentage is lower because that jackpot fake the total payout percetage.

If you want to study more thing like this I would recommend you some economics book which relates to game theories. There is also new definiton to world "rational" :)
Economic books are truely needed with this one kappa
I don't think economic books are "truly needed" if I'm interested in things related to gambling, money and probabilities, but I think they could be helpful... Idk, I'm not that interested, I think I'll skip. :D

(Yes I noticed you're being sarcastic but you also would've made a decent point if you hadn't been sarcastic.)
Niin taloustieteessähän noita on tutkittu aika paljon, että kyllähän niistä saa hyvin irti jos asia kiinnostaa. Esim peliteorian pohdinnat ja muut vastaavat on ihan kivoja. Toki tilastohommistakin niitä löytyy. Ei ilmeisesti kiinnosta, mutta vastasin kuitenkin

Taloustiede(economic/economics) on vähän vaikea englannin kanssa, koska ihmiset ymmärtää sen lähinnä liiketaloudellisena terminä - eivätkä niinkään taloustieteellisenä.

(Mindille en jaksa vastata)
Kyl varmasti peliteoria vois kiinnostaa ainaki sen verran et yhden kirjan aiheest lukis.

Lotto ja muut tollaset kiinnostaa lähinnä vaan psykologian kannalta, mitä ihmiset miettii ku ostaa lippuja ja kuinka paljon asiaa yleensäkää miettii, ja mitä jengi keksii sanoo ku tällasen kysymyksen tääl kysyy.

En ainakaa rahaa aio ruveta tienaamaan "uhkapelejä" pelaamalla.
Sitä että ei se pari euroa viikossa tunnu missään hävitä (lottokupongin tarkastiminen saa varmaan joillan jo sen maksun takas ku kiksit jne jne) ja se pieni mahis millä voi voittaa ois elämää mullistava raha jolla sä ja sun jälkeläiset ootte set for life

Ihan hyvä päätös, ei sille kannattakkaa vastata. Moi Kipe!
koska osaisin peliteoriaan varmaa vastatata ihan OK skaalalla koska hulluz poker jäbä

ja se on 50-50 voittaa tai ei voi
It all depends on the the average money won from a ticket.

For example:
Ticket's worth is 5
70% you win 0
20% you win 2.5
7% you win 5
2% you win 50
1% you win 300

The average money per ticket is now 4,85 meaning you get 0,15 loss every ticket and thus you dont want to invest in this at all as it will only result in losses in the long run

Let's assume for a second that the ticket costs 4,50 in sale. You now win 0,35 for every ticket you buy but only if the amount of tickets you buy is infinite for any finite number of tickets could show varying results.

Therefore the only viable lottery strategies are to either buy 0 tickets if there is a loss, or an infinite amount of tickets if there is a profit.

You didn't actually bother reading my journal very thoroughly before you posted your clever, ultimate, thread-ending comment, did you? :D

Be honest, please.
it's not thread ending. it actually got me thinking, how much would there have to be in pot to make it "worth" to bet. so I did quick math. there are 22 882 608 000 possible combinations. one ticket is worth 2e. so, if prize pool is higher than 45 765 216 000 you COULD theoretically bet on all possible outcomes and win more, than you have spent (in case you are the only one winning that is)
(but really you rigged the system and there is no ticket for 45 765 216 000 nyahhaha)
I don't know man, maybe, just maaaaaybe, and I'm not sure and just totally wild guessing here, so stay with me, you could - as I said, theoretically - buy more than one ticket?
we can not afford that, back to wiggledeez
I did read everything but didnt really like the conditions you gave so I added my own. :)

In my opinion things like the time of buying a ticket and the time interval of when to buy the next ticket dont have any influence on your theoretical earnings and thus I wouldnt consider them if youd want me to make a 'rational' decision
What makes you think the only rational decision is one that can earn you the most money? Why do you choose to have such a narrow mind that the only thing to consider when making a choice about a lottery ticket is how much you can earn?

Also, your opinion about the timing of buying a lottery ticket having nothing to do with how much you can theoretically earn does not correspond with reality. (Read: it's objectively wrong. And in a very obvious way if you read GreenClon's comments more carefully or just think about it more yourself.)

Maximizing theoretical earnings wasn't my intention when I wrote this journal anyway. I was hoping people would get a bit creative. Alas, it hasn't really happened yet. :(

One last thing:
QuoteI did read everything but didnt really like the conditions you gave so I added my own. :)

The attitude I see there is something like: "I don't like the game the other kids are playing so I'm gonna join them, play by my own rules and try to ruin it for everyone else."

I'm glad you didn't succeed. At least one of the kids is still having fun. :D
Not sure what you are trying to tell me here.

You didnt specify what you meant with 'rational'. Not only that but it seems like your whole intention of creating this topic was to find out what other people's meaning behind the word rational would be, as I quote:

"I came up with three different choices one could make that could be called "rational""

So I thought about what would be a rational decision/strategy in my eyes and decided that the only rational option I saw was maximizing my earnings, which meant that the time of buying a ticket was but a trivial matter and thus I didnt account for it. Maybe that is a better clarification then the one I gave earlier where I said what you quoted me on.

Calling me narrow-minded for having a clear opinion on a subjective matter seems like quite a stretch if you ask me, but maybe you are too narrow-minded to accept rationality outside of your own ;) (a joke, obviously).

In the end this is my subjective look on rationality of which Im sorry if it doesnt comply with your standards.
Sorry. I lost my motivation to continue this conversation. What initially annoyed me was that I was obviously trying to make people discuss this stuff a little, and you just posted some basic probability math that anyone can figure out on their own. (Also, nobody sells lottery tickets for less than they're worth. At least not for a very long time - they'll run out of money fast.)

Your comment had no value, yet you thought the /thread at the end was necessary.

And yeah, I set out to create some rather impossible conditions where you can't seemingly make any kind of meaningful choice, and I was hoping someone would come up with something they can still affect. You threw them aside without bothering to think about them. Perhaps using the word rational so much was a mistake - people thought it was an important word choice.

The first one I thought of was to try and choose some numbers people would be very unlikely to choose, so that if you win, you don't have to share the pot.

The second one I thought of was to just choose 1234567 simply for the lulz value in case you happen to win. It very much contradicts the first choice, but for some people humour is worth a lot of money. :P

If I had a third one, I forgot it days ago.

I made one pretty excellent system for this, but my principal told me it was too addictive and SHUT IT DOWN.
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