Improving Decision Making


Annie Duke is a renown public speaker and decision strategist. For two decades, she was one of the top poker players in the world, including winning a World Series of Poker bracelet and the $2 million winner-take-all WSOP Tournament of Champions. Her study of the science of smart decision-making began with a National Science Foundation Fellowship, which she used study Cognitive Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania. Among her charity work and television appearances, Annie was a runner-up to Joan Rivers on Celebrity Apprentice, during which she raised $700,000 for Refugees International. She is a natural teacher and storyteller with an active mind that constantly searches for accurate truth.

I highly recommend Annie’s new book, Thinking in Bets, which comes out this week. In her life after poker, she is a featured speaker, writes a newsletter and a blog, and advises companies on improving their decision-making process. Have a look at her website,, for more information.

Our conversation discusses Annie’s path from an Ivy League education to professional poker, the nature of a bet, how we form beliefs, why we make bad decisions, and what we can do to improve our decision-making process. Towards the end, we also talk about bankroll management, poker faces, and advice she would give the President on how to make better decisions.

Show Notes

2:30 – Annie’s path through the poker world

6:05 – Her transition into teaching and the lesson of tilt

11:57 – How do you apply the concepts of betting and gambling broadly to decision making

13:35 – What is it about the science of the brain that prevents us from making good decisions

14:17 – Stumbling on Happiness

14:19 – Dan Gilbert Ted Talk

15:44 – Kluge: The Haphazard Evolution of the Human Mind

18:50 – Motivated reasoning

21:10 – Is there anything we can do to fix our decision-making biases (wanna bet)

28:05 – Other devices to improve our decision-making

32:29 – Value of a decision group

33:16 – Superforecasting: The Art and Science of Prediction

34:00 – Mertonian Norms, CUDOS

40:27 – Mental time travel (Marty McFly from Back to the Future)

42:55 – Jerry Seinfeld – Night Guy vs Morning Guy

44:55 – Applying these tools and the parallels between poker and investing

48:59 – Reading poker faces

49:21 – Joe Navarro books

49:34 – Joe Navarro Psychology Today

52:50 – What advice would Annie give President Trump in terms of improving his decision-making process

53:52 – Favorite sports moment

55:45 – What teaching from Annie’s parents has most stayed with her

56:08 – What information does Annie read that a lot of people might not know about that is valuable

56:18 – The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution

56:19 – Why Evolution Is True

56:58 – What life lesson does Annie wish she knew earlier in life

58:28 – Looking ahead, what advice would Annie give herself today from a ripe old age

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