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Become who you are. Make what only you can make.Friedrich Nietzsche

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Thinking in Bets

Thinking in Bets

Take inspiration from poker players to know how to decide despite uncertainty.

Author(s): Annie Duke

Publisher: Portfolio Penguin

Date of publication: 2019

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A priori, managing a company and poker have very little in common. A business leader is not a player. He/she is a serious professional who strives to make rigorous choices—which condition shareholders’ investment and staff employment. Yet, the parallel is not as incongruous as it first seems according to Annie Duke, a specialist in cognitive psychology and a top poker player herself.

Indeed, as any poker player, the decision-maker relies on pieces of information that are partial and of an uncertain reliability. But, whereas poker players are well aware that they do not have all the cards in hand, business leaders can easily give in to the illusion of control. This is why Annie Duke invites them to deliberately consider themselves as gamblers. The parallel is instructive. It pushes us to reason in terms of probabilities, to acknowledge that we have an influence at best limited on the course of events, that the starting strategy must be refined and eventually redirected with each new “deal of cards”, etc.

An original and stimulating perspective, which astutely blends the author’s experience as a player with the learnings from cognitive sciences.