Friday, March 24, 2023

Duke book — a good decision

During the World Series of Poker, an opportunistic capitalist created a "Bad Beat" counseling table. If you exited the WSOP, you could pay a small fee and explain your poker injustice to the bad-beat counselor.

I always thought the Bad Beat counseling table was for those who didn't quite understand poker, odds or reality, and Thinking in Bets: Making Smarter Decisions When You Don't Have All the Facts (2018) by poker pro Annie Duke helped confirm I was right.

Thinking in Bets is entertaining and thoughtful, and I loved reading it. It made me realize how so many people engage in resulting when it comes to decision making and then don't fully understand a good decision vs. a bad one. They focus too much on a good result vs. a bad result.

Too often, we look at the result, or hindsight, to rate our decisions, and we disregard the information we had at the time. We can use hold 'em poker as an example. Let's say you believe your opponent has a pair of pocket jacks pre-flop, and you hold pocket kings. If you get in all your chips before the flop, it is an excellent decision, no matter what happens.

If your opponent flops a set of jacks and knocks you out of your tournament, it remains a good decision. But, unfortunately, our emotions often cloud how we perceive the decision. Just because we just lost doesn't mean it was a wrong decision.

We do this in life all the time. When something bad happens, we often assume we made a bad decision. When something good happens, we often assume we made a good decision. We disregard all of the information we had at the time, and chances are, we live a life making constant good decisions, based on the information we had at the time. (At least I do, I think).

Thinking in Bets isn't really about poker, but Duke made me realize that poker is more about life than chess. In chess, we see absolutely everything happening right in front of us. There are no surprises.

In poker, we don't have all the information. We don't know the next card. We don't know what our opponent has, but rather, we know their pattern and tendencies and how we perceive that opponent. That is how life actually works. We rarely have all the information we'd like to have, but we still must make a decision and do our best with that lack of information.

Duke also pointed out the logic behind my lack of gambling. Yes, I love playing poker with friends (but not in casinos), and I also run a football pool and play fantasy football and fantasy golf. That's the extent of my gambling. I don't like to gamble because, statistically, loses hurts twice as much as winning feels good. Emotionally, it just doesn't add up.

I also remember how Duke explained how people often fall into a trap of confirmatory thinking instead of exploratory thinking. We might find ourselves looking at select facts that help us confirm an outcome we desire or something we want to be true, but we don't often just explore with a blank slate of a mind.

I've often thought maybe I should take poker more seriously and play in some tournaments, but, nah, I don't want to be seated at a table that long. I'd rather play golf. I believe there is something in me that wants me to compete, and I loved that Duke shared some of her expertise in Thinking in Bets.

1 comment:

  1. Enjoyed your blog and the video. Games are fun ; gamble only with disposable funds; prepare to lose even with good decisions. “ Luck be a Lady Tonight!” AES