Annie Duke’s new book is, “Thinking in Bets: Making Smarter Decisions When You Don’t Have All the Facts.” She has taken her poker expertise and graduate level degree of psychology and digested it into a book we all can relate to our lives. She is a poker player, author, decision making expert, and cognitive scientist. Her understanding of how luck, skill and uncertainty all play a role in life is fascinating.
The foundation of decision making crosses over to all genres. She touches on football play calling, crypto currency, and everything in between. In Annie’s book she breaks down “the worst football play in Super Bowl history”, relating to Pete Carol. She proves that it was actually the right call in terms of probabilities and mathematics, Carroll was just unlucky. Carroll is on record admitting that it was the worst result of a call in Super Bowl history, but not the worst call.
Under a stressful situation, like the Super Bowl, would you be able to make the right call? How good are you about checking your beliefs and keeping your bets in line? Are your decisions and outcomes lucky? Smart? Skilled? Very few outcomes are solely skill or solely luck. Phil Ivey, arguably the best poker player in the world, sorts out what was luck and what was skill after every win or loss he may have in a poker tournament.
Learning occurs best when there are lots of decisions to be made in a compressed amount of time paired with lots of feedback to those decisions. Annie first studied this in young children learning to listen, speak, and digest words and quickly saw this study directly relate to the poker table. How do you learn when there is a lot of noisy feedback? Having limited resources, how do you use those resources to make educated bets?
Life is a series of bets that compound on themselves. Annie makes the point that, “I’m not sure” is the best answer in many situations – and there is nothing wrong with that. Coming from a place of uncertainty helps to make more rational decisions. When that decision doesn’t turn out well, you can then analyze how you can improve that action going forward.
In this episode of Trend Following Radio: