Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Constraint Satisfaction

So I'm sitting at home after calling it quits less than three hours into my session today due to...chest pains.  That's right, I was playing 40 and started to feel this tightness and cramping in my chest, right over my heart.  I've encountered this before, but in the past it has always just gone away after a reasonably short length of time.  Today that was just not the case.  It was at least stagnant and not getting worse, right up until a moment of stress occurred in my life.  I got asked if I wanted to take the 60 seat as I was being check/raised in a CO vs Button heads up situation.  The board was of course


And I of course had 77.  The pain just spiked through my entire chest and it was just...awful.  I actually ended up hero folding the river 9, which is obviously a super fancy exploitable play in a heads up re-steal situation, but sometimes you just sorta have to.  So anyway I played 60, it didn't get better, and I came home.  So now I'm sitting on the couch having an internal dialogue with myself about how low I can set the AC (it's 94 outside), how often I have to walk Clint (he's crapped wet gooey crap in the garage 3 times in the last 15 hours), and if I should actually fire up the internet poker and play a few hands.  But first, I'll tell you the thoughts I had yesterday.

Life is all about constraint satisfaction.  It's a pretty basic AI concept that you'll go over in any introductory course on the subject, and like most of the concepts in such a course it really can have an impact on the way you think about problems in the world.  I won't really go into the details of any of the other concepts here (search, genetic algorithms, minimax, near miss learning), but after some thought I've realized that the happiness level you can achieve in your life is most likely linked to the number of constraints you have to satisfy on a daily basis.  The topic of discussion was the fact that I wanted to leave for the day but couldn't justify it because traffic was already into the "end of the world defcon 2" stage.  I told Danielle that I wished I lived somewhere where I could leave the casino between 3:15 and 7:15, but that I didn't and therefore I could not.  She replied that where we live wasn't the only problem, and she was correct, at which I point I simply explained that the departure time constraint was simply one I had to satisfy every day.  As an aside, it kind of works out like this....yes I could just leave and incur an additional 30 minutes of traffic on my way home.  The problems with that solution are numerous;  I hate sitting in traffic, so that has a cost.  I'm way more likely to get into an accident in traffic, so that has a cost.  And I could just sit and play an extra N minutes and only lose N-30 minutes of my life, so in effect my win rate is boosted some odd percentage points during that time.  The discussion kind of got me thinking....

The basic way that I live my life is to try and minimize the number of constraints that I have to satisfy. In short, all I do is try to avoid commitments, because those are simply constraints that I'm eventually going to have to satisfy.  I don't like to have a plan, and I trust my ability to get myself out of situations (or enjoy days off, whichever you prefer), on the fly without a firm schedule or set of commitments.  Having to satisfy constraints causes me stress (and maybe chest pain?) and therefore I really try hard to avoid them.  Danielle is the complete and polar opposite.  It seems that in many situations she actually endeavors to add constraints to her life, because she gets a sense of accomplishment from satisfying them.  She likes to plan every last detail, and doesn't really do contingency plans.  My entire life is one giant contingency plan!  I'm not saying who's right and who's wrong, because it could be different for each person, but it seems to me that the fewer things that you HAVE to do in your life, the more time and energy you'll have for the things you simply WANT to do. And obviously for a profession like mine having fewer constraints to satisfy will lead to making more money.  If you HAVE to be home by 10pm, that's a constraint.  Most of the time it won't be a problem, but when the whale is sitting 2/4 and you have the seat, all of a sudden satisfying it could cost thousands of dollars.  If you need 8 hours of sleep per night, that's a big constraint.  If you can't sit in a game with Squeaky because you just can't bring yourself to deal with that POS, that's a constraint.  Mortgage payment of $3000/month?  Constraint.  Can't sit in the same game as one of your horses?  Constraint.  All of these add up, and the most successful (and probably happiest) professional players seem to have very  few constraints in their lives.

Obviously some constraints simply can't be avoided, but I challenge you to think about your life from a constraint satisfaction point of view and see if there are any simple simplifications you can make to improve the way you do business.


ExMember said...

You make a good argument for not having a dog. Or a girlfriend.

Michael Rawdon said...

I learned a couple of years ago that gastrointestinal distress can result in symptoms that feel like chest pains. One potential indicator is that if you burp and the feeling goes away (if only temporarily) then that might be what it is. Stress can be a contributing factor to such problems.

Of course you'd want to consult the proverbial medical professional for a proper diagnosis.

RFC said...

Dude, don't overlook chest pains. I had some weird chest pains in 2004, shrugged it off until coworker convinced me to get it checked out... i had 2 small blood clots in my lung. Probably would've croaked, had i not gone i.

Unknown said...

This (constraints etc') is really interesting way to think about life, and easy to buy in into idea that less constraints = happiness... But the sad fact is that many constraints actually contribute to happiness (how about kids, let alone dogs and girlfriend...). So this is a very tough, closed loop.