Sunday, November 04, 2007

What The Bleep Is Luck?

Listening to the Coast To Coast AM radio program last night with host Ian Punnett:

"Author and astrologer Barrie Dolnick joined her co-author, attorney Anthony H. Davidson, in a discussion on the nature of luck and the habits of lucky people."

Barry and Anthony were promoting their new book, Luck: Understanding Luck and Improving the Odds which made me think again about the question: Is there such a thing as luck? You know, the "L" word? Pardon my French --- but the French call it "Chance"! :-)

In the movie Casino ( or some similar movie, my memory is not that great lately! ), the casino owners said they did not believe in luck, just that the odds were in their favor and they were guaranteed to win over the long run, so why believe in luck? The owners called the players naive because they believe in luck. Good luck made the players return for more. Bad luck made them return to get their money back. Either way, the casino still wins in the long run. The law of large numbers says that because the outcome of the games have a "house advantage" --- in the long run the casino always has the advantage --- they are guaranteed to win!

Some sophisticated gamblers like "21" card counters, just like the casino owners, also do not believe in luck per se. When the "count" ( probability of the dealer busting more due to more "10" valued cards left in the deck ) is on their side, they increase their bets and for short times they may actually have an advantage over the casino.

When gambling, believing in luck may be the similar to believing in God, as posited in Pascal's wager:

"The ( Pascal )Wager posits that it is a better 'bet' to believe that God exists than not to believe, because the expected value of believing (which Pascal assessed as infinite) is always greater than the expected value of not believing."
- from Wikipedia article

So given the choice, a variation of Pascal's Wager is that it is always better to believe in luck, even if luck does not exist. Many gamblers say that if you are gambling with a bad attitude or negative expectations, it is nearly impossible to walk away a winner. The law of infinite abundance as preached in many New Age philosophies ( like "The Secret" )says that negative expectations always brings negative results.

My personal definition of luck is something like "being at the right place at the right time doing the right thing" --- a philosophy that makes sense in day to day life also. Anticipation of good luck is what makes gamblers return to Vegas ( the right place ) again and again --- it is the myth of winning the big jackpot this time, "against all odds". Professional sports players claim that at times they are "in the zone" and can do everything right, almost effortlessly. Professional gamblers like some poker players claim that there is such a thing as a "gambler's high" where they can "see" just a little into the future and just "know" that the cards are in their favor and there is a euphoric feeling of irrational optimism and wild expectation, just knowing that they are going to win!

The discussion on Ian Punnett's Coast To Coast show last night turned to occult methods that can help increase luck. Things like astrology and numerology and carrying a rabbit's foot ( or orange peel ) in your pocket. I am sure that the universe is cyclic and that we can tune into the waves and patterns in order to take advantage of of the positive energies and avoid or minimize the negative. Some people say that if we accept good luck as real then we must also accept bad luck; in other words: we should accept our fate and we can't change our destiny. Which makes some people, like Bible fundamentalists, a little squeamish on the idea of trying to control one's destiny or fate. Maybe we should not open that Pandora's box and not try to tempt fate, but just let things flow as God intended, and always accept things as they are. A point to ponder ( for a really short time)--- but it won't keep me from trying to hit a big jackpot!


Anonymous said...

I'm a low stakes player that has followed and watched all the big games for years. Anyway, I've decided to give up my lucky buck in exchange for a shot at playing in a WSOP even this year. I put my lucky one dollar bill that I've had for a few years on eBay. Nothing special, it's just a plain ole' one dollar bill (it's lucky though). With it comes a hand written note about my 5 most lucky experiences with the buck. Anyway, I'm hoping that someone who wants some extra luck will buy it for a big enough amount that I can come to Vegas during the WSOP. If you are interested, check it out, if not that's cool. If you buy it, or find a buyer, I'll buy you a beer when I come out for the WSOP. Heck, maybe the story will even land us on TV (that's good for you and me). It's only on eBay for 6 more days. Type in "lucky one dollar bill." See you in Vegas. Jason Bowersock. Good luck in upcoming events.

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