I came across the author, Annie Duke, while listening to a podcast.
Annie Duke is a former professional poker player and a consultant for businesses, organizations and individuals looking to improve their decision-making skills. Duke has a unique background that sets her apart from other decision-making experts. She spent over a decade competing at the highest level of professional poker and has won multiple World Series of Poker bracelets. This experience has given her a deep understanding of the psychology of decision-making, and how to deal with uncertainty and risk.
Annie Duke wrote a book titled “Thinking in Bets: Making Smarter Decisions When You Don’t Have All the Facts.” In her book, Duke shares her expertise in the field of decision-making, drawing on her experience as a professional poker player to offer practical advice for making better decisions. She argues that most of us think in terms of “good” or “bad” outcomes, when in reality, decisions are more complex than that. Instead, she encourages people to think in terms of “bets” – weighing the potential outcomes of a decision and their likelihood of occurring.
Thinking In Bets
In “Thinking in Bets,” Duke shares her expertise in the field of decision-making, drawing on her experience as a professional poker player to offer practical advice for making better decisions. She argues that most of us think in terms of “good” or “bad” outcomes, when in reality, decisions are more complex than that. Instead, we should think in terms of “bets” – weighing the potential outcomes of a decision and their likelihood of occurring.
Some key pointers from the book include:
- The importance of thinking in terms of probabilities rather than certainties
- The role of uncertainty in decision-making
- The need to recognize and embrace the fact that we are fallible and make mistakes
- The value of having a decision-making framework or process to follow
- The importance of seeking out and considering multiple perspectives when making decisions
The book explains the the difference between “resulting” and “decision quality.” Resulting is the outcome of a decision, and it is easy to look at the outcome and say whether it was a good or bad decision. However, decision quality is the process of making the decision, which is much more important than the outcome. Duke argues that by focusing on decision quality, we can improve our chances of making better decisions in the future.
Duke introduced the idea of “fold equity,” which is the value of being able to fold in a poker game. This concept can be applied to life and work, as well, as it teaches us the importance of being able to walk away from a decision when the odds are not in our favor.
The Role of Luck
It’s difficult to choose just one chapter that outshines the rest in the book, as the book is filled with valuable insights and practical advice throughout. However, I found the chapter “Bet to Learn: Fielding the Unfolding Future” to be particularly noteworthy.
In this chapter, Duke discusses the role of luck in decision making and how it can impact the outcome of a decision. She argues that luck plays a much larger role in our lives than we often realize, and that we need to take this into account when making decisions. She also explains how to distinguish luck from skill, and how to use this knowledge to make better decisions.
One of the key takeaways from this chapter is that luck can have a significant impact on the outcome of a decision, and that it is important to consider this when evaluating the quality of a decision. Duke also provides practical advice on how to deal with luck, such as by diversifying your bets, and by focusing on decision quality rather than just the outcome.
Another important concept introduced in this chapter is the idea of “counterfactual thinking” which is thinking about what could have happened instead of what did happen. Duke argues that this type of thinking can help us to better understand the role of luck in our decisions and to make better decisions in the future.
Annie Duke encourages readers to think in terms of expected value, which is the probability of an outcome multiplied by the associated rewards or costs. She also encourages readers to separate the decision-making process into two parts: the decision itself, and the outcome of the decision. This helps to separate emotions from the decision-making process.
The key takeaway from “Thinking in Bets” is the importance of being aware of our own fallibility and recognizing that we will make mistakes. Duke stresses the need to have a decision-making framework in place to help us avoid common pitfalls and think through our choices more carefully. This is particularly important in the world of investing, where it can be tempting to let emotions and biases influence our decisions. By following a structured approach and considering the probabilities of different outcomes, we can make more rational and informed investment choices.
One way in which “Thinking in Bets” can help with decision-making is by teaching us to think in terms of probabilities rather than certainties. For example, let’s say you are considering investing in a new startup. You might be tempted to think in terms of absolutes, either believing that the startup will be a huge success or that it will fail completely.
However, Duke would argue that this kind of thinking is flawed because it ignores the role of uncertainty in decision-making. Instead, she suggests that we should be considering the likelihood of different outcomes and making our decisions based on the probabilities of those outcomes. So, in the case of the startup, we might consider the likelihood of the startup being a success, the likelihood of it failing, and the likelihood of it achieving something in between. By thinking in terms of probabilities, we can make more informed and rational decisions.
How This Book Helps Investors
“Thinking in Bets” can help investors make better decisions in the stock market by teaching them to approach decision-making in a more rational and analytical way. One of the key concepts that Duke introduces in the book is the idea of “uncertainty” and how to deal with it when making decisions. She argues that most of us tend to think in terms of “good” or “bad” outcomes, when in reality, the outcome of a decision is often uncertain.
In the stock market, investors are constantly faced with uncertainty. They must make decisions about which stocks to buy and sell, and when to do so, based on incomplete information and a high degree of unpredictability. By thinking in terms of bets, investors can weigh the potential outcomes of a decision and their likelihood of occurring, and make more informed decisions.
For example, an investor might consider the potential returns of a stock, as well as the potential risks. They might also consider the current market conditions and how they might affect the stock’s performance. By weighing these factors and considering the likelihood of different outcomes, the investor can make a more informed decision about whether to buy or sell a particular stock.
I like this books as they challenge traditional decision-making processes. Rather than relying solely on intuition and gut instinct, the books encourage readers to take a more calculated and analytical approach to decision-making. This is a departure from the more traditional approaches of relying on intuition or blindly following the advice of others.
The concept encourages investors to think critically and objectively about their decisions, and to be honest with themselves about the potential outcomes. When investing in the stock market, it is important to consider the risks and rewards and to make decisions based on evidence and data. By considering what evidence would convince them that they are wrong and being honest about the potential outcomes, investors can make more informed decisions and maximize their chances of success.
By thinking in bets, investors can evaluate potential outcomes and make decisions that are more likely to yield favorable returns.
For those interest, I have also found a book summary online and you can read it below.