Annie Duke – Thinking in Bets


As a podcast host, you are not supposed to have favorite episodes – but you still do. This is one of those. I have the pleasure today of bringing you my conversation with Annie Duke. Annie is a decision scientist and former professional poker player. In fact, for two decades, she was one of the best in the world. In 2004, she beat a field of 234 players to win her first World Series of Poker (WSOP) gold bracelet. In 2010, she won the prestigious NBC National Heads-Up Poker Championship.

However, this is not an episode about poker – well it isn’t and it is. As you will hear, poker is a game that mimics life. That is because it is all about making decisions under conditions of uncertainty. Therefore, this is a conversation about making decisions. In fact, Annie has a background in cognitive psychology and received a prestigious National Science Foundation fellowship prior to her poker career. She currently is working on many projects in the realm of decision science including with the likes of Philip Tetlock, a giant in this field.

Earlier this year, Annie’s book was published – Thinking in Bets: Making Smarter Decisions When You Don’t Have All the Facts. It is an excellent book which I highly recommend. We get into a number of the concepts Annie discusses in her book and much, much more including:

  • Annie’s origin story as a poker player and decision scientist;
  • The concept of “resulting” and how we apply this to lives – very useful stuff!
  • “Decision quality” – and why this is so important. Annie discusses an example that comes from American football: the Seattle Seahawks’ coach Pete Carroll’s decision to throw a pass late during Super Bowl 49 which ultimately cost them the game. Contrary to popular opinion, this was a high-quality decision that turned out badly – Annie explains why and why we do this type of thing in other domains.
  • Ways in which we can make better decisions;
  • The importance of thinking in probabilities;
  • Why “thinking in bets” is so powerful;
  • Much more!

Show Notes:

Annie’s website

Thinking in Bets – Making Smarter Choices When You Don’t Have All the Facts

Annie on Twitter

Poker players Howard LedererDan HarringtonErik Seidel

Chris Moneymaker

UBS’ 2018 World Cup prediction model

Hindsight bias

Malcolm Gladwell on “pulling the goalie”

Philip Tetlock

Charlie Munger

Decision trees

The Hour Between Dog and Wolf by John Coates