Free Minds & Free Markets

Poker Champion Annie Duke on Making Smart Bets in Life, Politics, and Football

"Life is like poker," says Duke: Good choices and good outcomes don't always correlate.

"Life is poker, not chess," says Annie Duke, a former professional poker player and the author of a new book, Thinking in Bets: Making Smarter Decisions When You Don't Have All the Facts. Chess is a game of skill with "very little luck involved," while in poker good decisions and good outcomes often don't go together.

Duke cites Seattle Seahawks Coach Pete Carroll's decision in the 2015 Super Bowl to call for a pass play that was intercepted. Since the interception rate in situation like this is about one or two percent, it was a good decision that didn't work out. In football, like life, humans are prone to draw the wrong conclusions from situations involving bad luck.

"We go around and we change our decision making because we've evaluated the quality of a decision based on one outcome," says Duke. "Try and cordon yourself off from the outcome [and] recognize the uncertainty of the future."

Reason's Nick Gillespie sat down with Duke to discuss life, chess, poker, football, and why we can all benefit from exposure to dissenting opinions.

Cameras by Jim Epstein and Andrew Heaton. Edited by Austin Bragg.

Photo Credits: Jon Soohoo/UPI/Newscom, Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire/Newscom, Kevin Dietsch/UPI/Newscom, John Angelillo/UPI/Newscom, Chris Coduto/Icon Sportswire/Newscom, Shane Roper/Cal Sport Media/Newscom, Chris Wattie/REUTERS/Newscom, Charles Baus/Cal Sport Media/Newscom

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  • Chipper Morning Baculum||

    Sometimes nothing's a real cool hand.

  • $park¥ leftist poser||

    "Life is like poker," says Duke

    Life is also like a box of chocolates.

  • Chipper Morning Baculum||

    Because it comes with a label that tells you exactly what is inside?

  • $park¥ leftist poser||

    Yes, but if you hold it upside down you end up biting into the nasty apricot piece that everyone always throws away.

  • ||

    Someone brings the bourbon laced chocolates to work during holidays and never labels them?

  • Howard Lederer||

    Ask Annie why she worked for a company that stole poker players money, and why her brother is still living on that same stolen money.

  • Howard Lederer||

    Ask her why she never disclosed "God mode" and when and how often she used it to see hole cards.

  • Chipper Morning Baculum||

    Mikey hopes to someday face Weigel across a poker table. He thinks he had Weigel's tell all figured out, and is going to bet his law school tuition on it.

  • creech||

    Why would one retire if one had made $4mm? Makes one wonder, like those guys who sell you "financial secrets" in their newsletters: If you can make millions in the stock market, spend your time doing that, not selling us $79 subscriptions.

  • $park¥ leftist poser||

    There is the possibility that she thinks $4 million is enough.

  • Juice||

    You gotta know when to walk away, know when to run.

  • Rhywun||

    +1 beard

  • I am the 0.000000013%||

    Yeah, no kidding. The day I can cover 3 good meals a day, significant amounts of liquor, a good car and driving vacations around the continent for the foreseeable future is the day I call it quits and retire.

    I figure I'm golden with anything over a million...

  • JWatts||

    A million is going to generate about $40K a year in cash over the long term. That's not exactly trust fund money.

  • I am the 0.000000013%||

    I get to start touching my principal near the end, which I look forward to with great anticipation.

    Also, my standards are low, and that's $40k on top of my social security and medicare benefits.

  • Chipper Morning Baculum||

    Actually, $4 million is exactly enough. It is the amount that maximizes happiness. If you have more than that, your happiness goes down, according to scientific studies.

  • Rhywun||

    Only if you're surrounded by leeches, I bet. Pro-tip: don't surround yourself with leeches.

  • $park¥ leftist poser||

    Well if science says so then who am I to argue?

  • Paloma||

    Chavez' daughters must be miserable as fuck.

  • Howard Lederer||

    Poker has large swings, and she isn't considered to be very good. Her brother ran a company that bankrolled her, but was financially shady, eventually going out of business and taking millions in player money when it went.

    The short answer is, pokergot harder, she's not that good, and her brother's company couldn't bankroll her anymore.

  • $park¥ leftist poser||

    eventually going out of business and taking millions in player money when it went.

    Sounds like a bunch of poker players made a bad bet.

  • Howard Lederer||

    Eh, thieves gonna thieve.

  • ||

    Look at any athlete, ever.

  • SQRLSY One||

    I notice that ***NONE*** of y'all wussies have stated the obvious, that "I would poker!"

    Are y'all totally over-the-hill old men, or what?!?!?!?

    (I would say that "I would poker", except I am a VERY-very old geezer by now, and I prize my privacy, so I don't want to give anyone any kind of clue as to what kinky of gayness or non-gayness I am perverted towards... You need NOT bake a cake for ME, in any case!).

  • Paloma||

    Didn't Maverick's pappy used to say something like that?


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