# Re: Games of Chance and Luck

On Sep 9, 8:48 pm, John the Savage <savage0...@xxxxxxxxx> wrote:
On 9/9/2010 4:09 PM, Iceman wrote:

On Sep 9, 12:11 pm, John the Savage<savage0...@xxxxxxxxx>  wrote:
On 9/9/10 1:04 PM, Iceman wrote:
Same in cricket.  Or if a baseball is
hit three inches left of the foul pole or three inches right.  If you
have a ball coming at you with a certain speed and direction, and you
hit it a certain way, the exact same thing will happen.

So if the Tigers beat the Yankees today, then the only conclusion is
that they are more skilled, correct?  And what happens tomorrow?

It comes down to how you define luck.  There's no actual "luck" in
purely physical actions, but there is variability.

What is a "purely physical action"?  If the outcome of a game depends on
"variability", which cannot be foreseen or predicted in any way, than
there is some luck involved, is there not?  Sure, I guess it depends on
how you define "luck".

It's just a matter of definitions. I think we can distinguish (1) an
individual's better or worse performance in a given game, or in a
given action, (2) tiny differences in how you perform an action like
hitting a baseball that make very big differences in the outcome, (3)
environmental factors like wind or rain or rough ground, and (4) pure
chance, like a random number generator in a video game (temporarily
ignoring the tiny shortcomings of such generators). I wouldn't call
1, 2, or 3 luck, even though they can vary greatly and sometimes there
might be very little you can do to adjust to them or control them.

Tiny differences
in how you hit a baseball, or golf ball, or tennis ball can make huge
differences in the result.  And no human athlete hits it exactly the
same every time.  But that isn't luck in the sense that a roulette
wheel is luck.

And why is it not?

You said, for example, that golf doesn't involve luck.  And yet, even if
you had a perfect knowledge of the "skill" of every golfer, you could
not predict the winner of a golf tournament with any regularity.  I bet
you would have better luck with the roulette wheel.

Every time a golfer is hitting a shot, it's like he is spinning that
roulette wheel.  He has some probability of hitting it exactly like he
wants, and some probability of missing a little this way or that, and
some probability of hitting a terrible shot and costing himself a couple
strokes.  The score he has at the end of the day, and at the end of the
tournament, will be a summation of all of these probabilistic events.  I
guess I need to hear your definition of "luck".

Well, golf is a game where tiny differences in how you hit the ball
make a huge difference in outcomes. Look at something like the 100-
yard dash, or shot put, or a weightlifting competition.

> (small snip)
How much luck is in the 100 meter dash?  In more complicated sports
like baseball, obviously very many things can happen that affect the
result.  But they aren't purely random even if they are highly
variable.

And this, what does "purely random" mean?  If the performance of the
human beings involved varies probabilistically, the outcomes will vary
probabilistically, and you will not be able to ever predict them with
certainty.  Is the wind any more "random" than that?  Or is it also a
mechanical, chaotic, unpredictable "purely physical action"?

The outcomes of say, a human runner, are variable. It isn't purely
random chance how a runner will do on any given day, even if there is
variability in his performance. How much did he sleep, what were his
last three meals, how prepared is he mentally, is he comfortable with
the weather, how does he respond to the crowd...
.

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