Fueled by Randomness

Randomness is quite often a good thing; let’s look at why in this Taleb-inspired post.

One of the questions many Daygamers asks themselves is ‘how many sets should I do?’ ‘How many sets is enough?’ ‘How many sets constitutes a hard day’s work?’ In other words (with regards to the last one): ‘how many sets do I need to do to avoid Daygamer’s guilt?’ Where is the optimum and how do I find it?

I ask myself these things a lot, sometimes subconsciously, because I’m trying to find out what is optimum for me: should I try and cherry pick my sets or spray my bullets far and wide and try and capture the residual lays? Of course it depends on my mood that day; but how to find that out? Sometimes your mood isn’t obvious to you until you’re a few sets in. So how do I encourage myself to actually find out?

These are also important questions to ask because there’s a trap in which people either do too few or too many sets. Are you leaving some money on the table by not going after some sets where you’ve wrongly calculated the probability? Perhaps you’ve opened too many sets in the last half an hour and you suddenly get that sensation that you’ve doused yourself in pussy repellant? (Spoiler: more sets does not always lead to more lays)

The unfortunate thing is that humans are awful at predicting the future and there are very few constants in this life. The only way to find the sweet spot is to do.

N.B. I’ve italicised ‘do’ here because it reminds me of the Joker quote from Batman: “I’m like a dog chasing cars, I wouldn’t know what to do if I caught one, you know, I just do…things.”

But why should we do? Why should we do something with an uncertain payoff? Let’s go into this:

One of the benefits of becoming an experienced Daygamer is that the cost of approaching becomes infinitesimally small; over time the cost of approaching is practically zero since AA has largely gone bye-bye. Not only does the intermediate and advanced Daygamer know this logically, he knows it emotionally too; it’s the essence of the ‘throwaway set’ or ‘flipping stones’ . We would tend to take advantage of this, and we do, for a time, in that sweet spot where we’re beginners and AA is going away and the euphoria sets in and we’re hungry for sets because each one takes us closer to the lay, but we don’t. Why is that? Approach lethargy/apathy.

It’s the inertia, the analysis paralysis, the over-calculating the odds, that holds us back. It’s the sensation of wondering whether you should approach because she doesn’t have the right fashion / walk / didn’t give you an IOI. You find yourself turning your head and making an internal groaning noise and thinking she looks good but she’s getting away from me but she seems amenable but she’s getting even further now etc etc. All the while your body is playing out this decision just like a girl who isn’t sure whether to stop or continue. It’s the umming and ahhing over the probability of the set.

The funny thing is that this dithering is illogical. Think about the costs and the possible rewards: the costs are infinitesimally low and the potential payoff is immeasurably high (in fact from a pure evolutionary perspective the payoff is the highest on offer). Doing a set is like buying an option on a stock: there are huge asymmetries in the payoffs. And an experience Daygamer pays pennies for options which a beginner would pay pounds for.

It’s like we expended all our effort overriding our hindbrain to get over our AA, only to conquer it and replace it with something else (the approach lethargy/apathy).

If an investor could pay practically nothing for an option how many would they buy? An infinite amount. The only reason we don’t do an infinite amount of sets (spamming) is because of the damage it does to your own vibe (it’s not optimal in the medium term) and out of courtesy to other Daygamers so as not to burn an area (we engage in a kind of tit-for-tat whereby we promise not to spam as long as they don’t either, but that’s still no assurance!…).

Of course, I’m not the first to recognise this problem. Torero says to ‘go and find out’ and Krauser says ‘it’s a victory for calibration’. For a beginner these words are an encouragement for them to do their first sets; for someone further down the line it becomes encouragement to actually do some sets. In all cases it’s the practitioner confronting the problem of their inertia.

What have I been telling myself? I’ve been telling myself to introduce some randomness to my sessions. I’ve been doing some sets I wouldn’t usually do, and not for any calculated reason beyond introduce some randomness. What is randomness in this case? It’s volatility. But remember we have asymmetric payoffs where the bad case payoff (i.e. the cost) is near to zero. And sets, just like out-of-the-money options, increase in value when volatility is higher.

Now don’t get too hard for this idea because infinite sets is not the route to pussy paradise; in fact, it leads you to feeling like a loser as each set smells ‘loser’ all over you. So really the answer is to introduce just enough randomness.

Another reason is that the more sets that you do, the more your results depend on luck. The probability of a lay from low probability sets doesn’t stack up (which is what you do more of if you introduce randomness); if your approach to lay ratio in a certain time frame is 1:50 then doing 100 sets in the same time frame doesn’t guarantee you two lays. In fact if you pursued that workrate then your A:L would probably get worse (though you’d also probably get more lays over time).

My point is: the relationship between sets and lays isn’t linear (more sets doesn’t equal more lays necessarily); the relationship is concave (more sets equals more lays up to a point, after which doing more sets leads to less lays because of the damage to your vibe; Google ‘concave’ if you’re unsure). I say ‘necessarily’ because it absolutely can lead to more lays, but mostly due to luck. You’re past the beginner stage and so there isn’t this (positive) linear relationship between skill and sets; your skill is largely static. With static skill, you’re mostly tending to your vibe and waiting to flip the favourable stone. Encountering favourable stones comes down to luck.

Here are some more reasons why the relationship between sets and lays is concave:

  1. You have more sets to nowhere which gradually convinces you that nearly every set is a set to nowhere
  2. You get more blowouts which gradually convinces you that approaching girls of that particular type is pointless
  3. You get more good sets which invariably end in nothing which convinces you that every hot girl has a boyfriend, is not from here and is leaving imminently, wouldn’t be interested in you, etc.

The hidden upside to introducing randomness is that you might build new positive reference experiences.

Let me leave you with the paradox of Buridan’s donkey (or ass, since we’re all sex obsessed): a donkey is equally hungry and thirsty and sits precisely halfway between sufficient food and water. Unable to choose between satisfying its thirst or hunger, it dies as it cannot make any rational decision for one over the other.

Now imagine someone or something comes along and randomly nudges it slightly closer to either the food or water. What would happen? The donkey would be able to make a classically rational decision and first satisfy itself from one source and then wander over to the other to satisfy itself there too.

Sometimes a little touch of randomness is all we need.

Yours unfaithfully,

Thomas Crown

3 thoughts on “Fueled by Randomness

  1. To me there are more obvious takeaways from the book. The most important being to appreciate that the role of luck in any activity (like daygame) is often much larger than we think, and hence we shouldn’t read too much into limited periods of wild success (or failure). More often than not its down to variance. In fact he cautions against reading too much into results in general, there’s a good aphorism in the book – “heroes are heroes because they’re heroic in behaviour, not because they won or lost.”

    I recommended you the book because that kind of thinking is quite different to yours (football being another example), so I’ll be interested to see if it has any effect. Glad you read it.

    Liked by 1 person

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