Podcast #387: Think Like a Poker Player to Make Better Decisions

It’s been said that life is a series of decisions. But life is complex and filled with randomness and uncertainty. How do you make decisions when 1) you don’t know everything you need to know to make the optimal decision, and 2) the factors influencing your decision are constantly changing? 

My guest today suggests thinking like a poker player.

Her name is Annie Duke. She’s a former World Series of Poker champion turned business consultant. In her book Thinking in Bets: Making Smarter Decisions When You Don’t Have All the Facts, she shares insights from her career as a professional poker player on how to make smart decisions in the face of uncertainty. We begin our conversation discussing why life is more like poker than chess and why you should never judge the quality of a decision by the results. She then shares insights on why you need to factor in luck, both good and bad, when you’re making decisions and how thinking of your decisions as bets can make you feel more comfortable with uncertainty. Annie and I then discuss some of the biases that prevent humans from thinking probabilistically, and why probabilistic thinking can make you more compassionate and humble. She then makes the case that thinking of your political opinions as bets is one way to moderate our increasingly polarized society. We end our conversation discussing how leaders can use the ideas from her book to help the groups they lead make better decisions.

This is a fascinating show filled with actionable insights that you can use right away.

Show Highlights

  • Annie’s professional poker career, and how she found her way back to cognitive psychology 
  • How teaching something helps you clarify your own thoughts and ideas 
  • Why poker is a better analogy for making decisions in life than chess 
  • Why you can’t actually make your own luck 
  • Spending less time beating yourself up, and patting yourself on the back
  • How do you know if your results were due to luck, hard work, or a combo of both?
  • The Seahawks’ final play against the Patriots in Super Bowl 49; was it really the worst play call ever? 
  • How to avoid “resulting” 
  • Why you need to stop worrying if you’ve got the right answer or not 
  • Why your best guess is better than the default 
  • Choosing the “right” college
  • Leading from a place of uncertainty 
  • How can we treat our opinions more like bets? And why should we?
  • Thinking in bets in politics 

Resources/People/Articles Mentioned in Podcast

Connect With Annie 

Annie on Twitter

Annie’s website

Annie on Facebook

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