Interview with Annie Duke, Thinking in Bets

Annie Duke, World Series of Poker Tournament of Champions winner, joined us to talk about talk about her latest book Thinking in Bets: Making Smarter Decisions When You Don’t Have All the Facts.

We all know about her fantastic poker career, but few us (myself included) knew about her equally impressive academic background. Annie double-majored in English and psychology, then went on to pursue a doctorate in cognitive linguistics. Annie talks about the latest research in decision-making and how she applied this research in poker and in business. Make sure to take notes for this one because it’s jam-packed with great information.

About the book: “Annie Duke, a former World Series of Poker champion turned business consultant, draws on examples from business, sports, politics, and (of course) poker to share tools anyone can use to embrace uncertainty and make better decisions. For most people, it’s difficult to say ‘I’m not sure’ in a world that values and, even rewards the appearance of certainty. But professional poker players are comfortable with the fact that great decisions don’t always lead to great outcomes and bad decisions don’t always lead to bad outcomes.

By shifting your thinking from a need for certainty to a goal of accurately assessing what you know and what you don’t, you’ll be less vulnerable to reactive emotions, knee-jerk biases, and destructive habits in your decision making. You’ll become more confident, calm, compassionate, and successful in the long run.

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Annie Duke’s talk covers the following topics:

  • How poker is a natural laboratory to study decision-making
  • Two factors that can affect a good decision-making
  • The importance of motivated reasoning
  • Why decisions should be treated as bets 
  • What is resulting and how is it hurting  your decision-making
  • Two things that determine how our lives turn out
  • Hidden information in luck
  • The importance of Ulysses pacts
  • And much more!

Notes from the talk:

1:16 How poker is a natural laboratory to study decision-making

5:11 Two factors that can affect a good decision-making

9:12 Motivated Reasoning

13:51 Why decisions should be treated as bets 

23:28 What is resulting and how is it hurting  your decision-making

28:51 Two things that determine how our lives turn out

41:16 Hidden information in luck

51:09 Thinking in advance

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JBT Questions:

1:09 What inspired you to write this book? 

5:01 What prevents people from making good decisions?

9:04 Why don’t people change their beliefs when they see new information?

13:42 How can we look at decisions in terms of bets?

23:13 What do you do when your bet fails?

28:32 What is the difference between World Series of Poker Champion Phil Ivey’s perspective compared to Hellmuth’s?

40:52 How can we stop from discounting others’ great decisions?

50:54 How can thinking in bets be applied to our social and family lives?

Audience Questions: 

56:57 Based on your life experience, what kinds of decisions did you make where you thought you needed to change?

1:06:11 What’s your strategy for rock, paper, scissors?

1:06:50 In terms of bets and challenging that, how do you do that when something isn’t quite as quantifiable as the number of representatives in the House in November? 

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1:11:58 How do you find balance between trusting the status quo and questioning things?

Online Questions:

1:01:46 You’ve talked about the feeling of an imposter or an outsider on some poker tables, what are some ideas in your book can help address the imposter syndrome sensation or counteract overconfidence?

1:09:59 Where were you on Black Friday in 2011 and what are your thoughts on regulating online poker?

1:17:38 What is your approach to the mental game of poker when your emotions can potentially influence your thought process?

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