Looking at life through luck

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What we do, try to aim for or want to accomplish, has only two factors when looking at luck, there are the factors we can influence and the factors that we can't influence. Obviously this is from the perspective of looking at luck, you could absolutely chop it up in a numerous of other ways. In the end these two factors when combined still give us the result. There is not a clean split between the two either, as there are some factors we maybe aren't aware of, which either we can or can't control. If we can't control some of the factors or we don't even know some of the factors existed then isn't this a random disturbance on the results. Even this is not actually so, this is where luck can really play tricks with our minds and be used an excuse that's not really there to be used. If we put ourselves in a situation which isn't as good as some other situations and next time were confronted with this decision we blindly choose one and say well both choices have a lot of random factors and we leave it at that. We may have actually missed something important which could have helped us get a better result and thus better choices later. To put it into a real life example, just choosing who we spend time with and where we go to get lunch can actually impact our lives, impact the people we meet, the people we end up being friends with and in real time what events happens to us. In the end you are free to do what you want and you should be able to without worrying about consequences but we can substaintially push ourselves to be standing in front of a range of possible outcomes that's less or more attractive than what we may be standing in front of if we had made a few adjustments over time. Even though this is true what we need to understand is every thing that happens is just like a wheel being spun and sometimes even if we get an amazing wheel to spin (an amazing set of possible outcomes) there will still be some places it can stop which have terrible results. What is difficult is to analyse how much of this wheel has been shaped by us and how much has been shaped by luck from the past, that is those unforeseeable, unchangeable and unpredictable factors. The interesting thing is some wheels that are spun as it were are quite isolated from our past decisions and some wheels are very connected. If we look at this from as an overall picture first and dig deeper it will be better. We first can think about the impact of luck on our results over time. A really good way to fully understand and feel the overall shape of what we are talking about, which is the effect of sample size (as life itself is full of a huge number of events) on variance is to play over a million hands of poker.

So, In cash games in Poker, you play a hand of poker and then you play another hand of poker. You either lose money or you win some. Each hand is equal to the next. There are no key hands or key moments. When looking at an individual hand in poker, that is a game of poker between a number of people, each hand is very dependant on what cards you have. If you get dealt a really good hand and you opponent gets a really good hand also and your hand improves to be the best and theirs to be the second best then when you take his money you can't just say, I won the hand I am a good poker player. That is because if you had his hand and he had yours you would lose and so you conclusion of yourself being good at poker is dependant on the cards you got. This is something we are always doing in life, almost unknowingly and interestingly new poker players do it too. So each hand is very dependant on cards but the end result over numerous amounts of hands is a combination of your skill. The edge for the poker player is maximizing your win when you have the best hand and minimizing your losses when you are beat. The edge is very small but play a million hands and that edge gives you a small gain over time which leads to a big gain and it can actually be bigger enough to replace your day job, if chosen. And so it is that after a huge amount of hands of poker the skill factor becomes larger than the luck factor. That is the players skill has more of an effect on your profit and loss than luck does when looking at money made, because the luck factor actually never changed. Over a million hands you have a very high chance, near 100% chance of making money from poker if you are well above average in skill but you have only an approximate 55% chance of making money in an individual hand and of course if the poker site isn't taking too big of a cut for itself. Luck still exists in both individual hands and the overall picture and never changes in strength at all. It's the same as tossing a million coins, perhaps where heads denotes a win and tails denotes a loss, your total luck (score) is just a sum of your luck for each coin toss. Its just in poker and in life the picture unfolds in random patterns and distorts luck. If we look at the end result for a winning poker player, they will have a huge range of results over a million hands its just that the likelihood of losing money decreases in proportion to the number of hands played and the money won is just the sum of the edge. In the case of tossing coins its just the sum of the throws. A poker players results over a million hands is now spread between a positive outcome in terms of money won rather than for an individual hand which is spread between positive and negative. The difference with life is that each event is not equal and some events have a bigger impact on our lives than other events, which is actually more similar to tournament poker where some keys hands can actually change the end result substantially.


When we talk about randomness impacting results we mean uncontrollable factors that impact us without giving us any control over them. Events don't all just give a result such as win or lose there's a lot of different outcomes. So with luck it's not just about winning big or getting that job but everything we do has a chance to draw unlikely results due to luck, the variance of randomness. Even missing the bus.. Statistics tells us that with a huge sample size some people will experience the very unlikely events of life, such as missing the bus by a few seconds for weeks every time.. It's simple but yet when humans are presented with this result they can't accept it as statistically its unlikely. There are good reasons though, people often exaggerate their experiences so listening to one we tend to de-exaggerate the information we receive or even go out in our minds to explore the fault in that person's behaviour because it didn't happen to us and perhaps we like to believe we have more control than we do. Of course if someone wins the lottery there is proof to that and we accept such an absurdly small chance without question. If there is chain of similar events each with a one in a hundred chance of a bad or undeseriable outcome happening then the chance of it happening three times out of three times is one in a million. That means if one million people are living through scenerios like these three events occurring then essentially one person will have three undesirable outcomes happen and if each time the outcome looks bad on that person then it may be really hard to justify why it happened three times, with events like these happening with such chances, it has the potential to deal a blow to someones image. If the chance of you forgetting a friends birthday is one in a hundred and it happens three consecutive years, what can you do. We live with consequences to the outcomes, even if naturally we had a lower chance than others to forget and and so we actually tried harder to remember than others, it doesn't change our image, the result is what changes life not the factors themselves. With billions of people on this planet naturally things like this will occur, statistics says they will. We often turn our eyes to such low chances although we actually have a ridiculously huge number of events happen to us we still like to hold someone up to their result and say what did you do wrong?

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