Saturday, January 27, 2007

I should be so lucky ... lucky, lucky, lucky

I have enjoyed the recent coverage of the case where poker was judged to be at least partly a game of luck. I'm struggling to think of any game that doesn't have an element of luck. Just about every sport has a phrase to witness the presence and importance of luck. Rub of the green. Unlucky bounce. Run of the balls. Fluke.

Even chess. "The winner of the game is the player who makes the next-to-last mistake". That's a quotation from Savielly Tartakower, who in the 1920s and 1930s was one of the world's best chess players, and one of the world's worst roulette players.

I have in my time been accused of being lucky. Like it was a bad thing. From my science education I don't buy the hypothesis that there are people who can consistently beat the statistics on pure-chance events. However Life is not a pure-chance event, so maybe there are people who can regularly beat the odds.

I only recently read this article about a Professor Wiseman (no, really) at the University of Hertfordshire who is studying the idea of luck.

He did a remarkable experiment with two groups of people - one group that considered themselves unlucky, and one group that thought they were lucky.

"I gave both lucky and unlucky people a newspaper, and asked them to look through it and tell me how many photographs were inside.

I had secretly placed a large message halfway through the newspaper saying: "Tell the experimenter you have seen this and win £250."

This message took up half of the page and was written in type that was more than two inches high.

It was staring everyone straight in the face, but the unlucky people tended to miss it and the lucky people tended to spot it.

Unlucky people are generally more tense than lucky people, and this anxiety disrupts their ability to notice the unexpected.

As a result, they miss opportunities because they are too focused on looking for something else."

Professor Wiseman's 4 keys to maximising your luck are :-

Listen to your gut instincts - they are normally right

Be open to new experiences and breaking your normal routine

Spend a few moments each day remembering things that went well

Visualise yourself being lucky before an important meeting or telephone call. Luck is very often a self-fulfilling prophecy

I'd like all Radio Free Stan readers to be lucky, so go out and give it a go. Let me know how you get on, and when the money starts gushing in, just remember who put you on the path to greatness.

1 comment:

Kenny said...

My mate Yozzer Been Larding will not play any game that he feels is dependent on luck. So it's pool and chess only with him.

On the face of it, and given the results, luck has nothing to do with either of those games. He ritually savages me at both, although less frequently at pool.

Speaking of which, for some mad reason, I bought a lottery ticket for the first time in forever -- must check that.

BTW -- Paul had me crying into my beer. Was 1D POGO?