Sequences

Reflections on Premium Poker Tools

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"Win First" vs "Chill First"

I agree that win-first and chill-first personalities often clash, but there are two (implicit?) points that I... I wouldn't say I disagree with them, but I am unsure of them, or maybe bearish about them.

1) That win-first and chill-first personalities can't mesh.

I think that they can. For example, imagine if Jimmy Butler was the "keep my head down and work hard" type instead of the "in your face work hard" type. The later can be thought of as a type A personality, and the former a type B personality. I think the lesson here is a more general one of type A personalities clashing, not specific to win-first vs. chill-first.

Another lesson might be that when working in groups, it's important to be adaptable. Ask yourself, "What mindset would best help my group achieve it's task (my team win a championship)?" Maybe the answer to that is to get all Michael Jordan in-your-face-intense. But it's also possible that the answer is to chill and fit in.

2) That win-first is optimal (in the NBA and similar situations).

They certainly make for a great narrative, but there are also counter-examples (sort of).

  • If you look at players who's careers took a sharp downward turn and never panned out, burnout, stress and anxiety are themes that keep coming up. To use an extreme example, Andrei Kirilenko ended up getting addicted to WoW. Kevin Love talked about how anxiety and expectations affected his game (and more recently Paul George). Then there's a bunch of examples of careers being killed by drugs. I suspect that the win-first pedal-to-the-floor mindset contributes to all of this and that putting your pedal to the floor a) can only be taken so far and b) requires a certain psychological skillset as a prerequisite (something I've personally screwed up, have been meaning to write about, and is one of the first things I'd tell my past self).
  • Sports and exercise science have been showing us more and more how important rest and recovery are. This isn't necessarily incompatible with win-first, but in practice I think a lot of win-first types tend to wave their hands at it. Same story in the intellectual world.
  • Greg Popovich, one of the best coaches of all time, is famous for his team dinners. He knows when to focus on basketball, and when to take his foot off the pedal. "'Hey, we're together' Popovich tells his troops after the 103-81 loss. 'Let's eat. That's basketball. ... We'll get back to work tomorrow.' The Spurs close out the series in the next game." I could imagine a win-first type insisting that "chilling" over dinner like this is wrong and instead calling everyone to the gym.

I guess my point isn't against win-first — to be a world class performer I think you do have to hit that gear sometimes — it's just that there are caveats and that it has to be executed properly.

"Win First" vs "Chill First"

I never thought I'd be posting about my mancrush here on LessWrong... but Heat’s Udonis Haslem ‘ain’t really here trying to be friends with nobody provides more context into the Heat's win-first culture.

“I didn’t want to get too comfortable. I didn’t want to feel like home. I don’t want to get relaxed. I want to keep my edge. I want to stay focused on the task at hand. So, I’m sleeping on the couch right now, dog, with a room full of Chunky soup.”

What kind of impact have you had on Heat culture?

I don’t say much, but I want to let everybody know, make no mistake, when you come to this locker room, I’m who you got to answer to. We have a lot of leaders on this court. Dwyane was the greatest player to ever come through the Miami Heat organization. He is the leader on the court. LeBron [James], all those dudes. … I understand who scores all the points, but when you come in that locker room and you got to get with this culture, and the expectations of what we expect from you, I’m who you got to deal with. You see how that works out for some people. Everybody ain’t built for it.

For the people who don’t know, how would you define the culture?

If I’m 40 years old, and 6% body fat, I go running and do 10 suicide [sprints]. What do you think I’m going to expect out of a 22-year-old? I have no understanding why you can’t. There is no, ‘I can’t.’

Now that you’re seeing Butler up close, what makes him special?

You don’t see guys that attack every game and every possession and really try to win every game and every possession. This league, you’ll see a guy that’ll say, ‘We’ll get on the next game. I’ll take this possession off and take a break.’ I know guys that rest throughout the game. I was never one of those guys that rested throughout the game. I literally tried to play every possession as hard as I could, offensively or defensively.

That’s what I love about Jimmy. He literally doesn’t give a s—. Don’t care who he got to guard, really doesn’t care. He’s going to play as hard as he physically can, every possession. I never have to have a conversation with Jimmy about his effort. Never. That’s what I love about him.

On Destroying the World

I don't mean to belabor the point, but if this were meant as a deadly serious type of exercise I would have expected a much harsher penalty for submitting the launch codes. Why take just the home page down and not the rest of the site? Why only 24 hours? If it were a deadly serious type of exercise, I'd expect in the ballpark of taking down the whole site for a week to a month. I can also see taking it down for a year. Doing so would really hammer home how important xrisk is, which I think would be a very positive outcome and thus a potentially reasonable thing to do.

On Destroying the World

Yeah. If 80% is the true success rate I would not expect the world to look the way it does. I would expect such attacks to be incredibly rampant and somewhere near the front of everyone's minds, at least in the sense of when you get a call from an unknown number you think it's quite likely that it's something unsolicited.

What are good rationality exercises?

There may be some creative non-formal solutions though.

  • On one end of the spectrum you could have a token system and leave it up to the users to figure out actually exchanging money themselves (a lot of poker apps do this).
  • Getting less hands-on, you could do away with the tokens and just act as a matchmaker, getting two parties who want to make a bet in touch with each other and they could handle it from there.
  • Getting even less hands-on, you could just function as a place to discuss bets you may want to make in the real world. Eg. sports betting or stock picking (I guess there's not too many examples of this).
What are good rationality exercises?

Answer: Writing Your Hypothetical Apostasy

See Write Your Hypothetical Apostasy on Overcoming Bias.

Imagine, if you will, that the world's destruction is at stake and the only way to save it is for you to write a one-pager that convinces a jury that your old cherished view is mistaken or at least seriously incomplete.  The more inadequate the jury thinks your old cherished view is, the greater the chances that the world is saved.  The catch is that the jury consists of earlier stages of yourself (such as yourself such as you were one year ago).  Moreover, the jury believes that you have been bribed to write your apostasy; so any assurances of the form "trust me, I am older and know better" will be ineffective.  Your only hope of saving the world is by writing an apostasy that will make the jury recognize how flawed/partial/shallow/juvenile/crude/irresponsible/incomplete and generally inadequate your old cherished view is.

I'm not sure exactly how this fits in to group rationality practice. I personally am always more motivated to write when it's something that I will publish, so having a place where we publish hypothetical apostacys could be useful for motivational reasons. It would also be useful because you'd get feedback on your thought process, although that point could be made for many other exercises.

What are good rationality exercises?

I recall reading educational psych stuff about how the act of both 1) creating and 2) answering questions like this is a great way to deepen your understanding.

What are good rationality exercises?

Answer: Betting With Real Money

From the end of Inadequate Equilibria:

I don’t have good, repeatable exercises for training your skill in this field, and that’s one reason I worry about the results. But I can tell you this much: bet on everything. Bet on everything where you can or will find out the answer. Even if you’re only testing yourself against one other person, it’s away of calibrating yourself to avoid both overconfidence and underconfidence, which will serve you in good stead emotionally when you try to do inadequacy reasoning. Or so I hope.

Eliezer seems to be referring to real money here. And I recall him talking elsewhere about how it is useful to put real money on the line.

This meshes with my experiences playing poker. It's one thing to study and learn that X is a mistake. It's another thing to make the mistake of X and lose a big pot because of it. There's something about losing real money that cements it in your head. And I'm not just referring to my own experiences. From talking to other poker players, it seems that this is the norm.

However, real money is a touchy subject and I'm not sure how we would actually pull this off. But I figure that there is still value in bringing it up.

What are good rationality exercises?

It seems very plausible that you'd get more value out of them after having gone through CFAR. But it seems implausible that you'd get zero or negative value out of them without having gone through CFAR. At least in terms of expected value.

On Destroying the World

At the same, the purpose of this experiment wasn't clear at all.  I wasn't sure if it was having fun, increasing awareness or gaining insight into people's psychology.

Agreed. I was also provided with the codes, and to provide another data point, this is how I thought about it.

The terminal goal isn't to keep the site up. The question I (immediately) asked myself is whether entering the codes would make it more likely or less likely that people take xrisk seriously in the real world (roughly). I considered this briefly, but I realized that I too was confused about the point of the experiment, and thus decided to leave it alone.

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