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Thinking in Bets: Making Smarter Decisions When You Don't Have All the Facts

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3.83  ·  Rating details ·  4,968 ratings  ·  559 reviews
In Super Bowl XLIX, Seahawks coach Pete Carroll made one of the most controversial calls in football history: With 26 seconds remaining, and trailing by four at the Patriots' one-yard line, he called for a pass instead of a hand off to his star running back. The pass was intercepted and the Seahawks lost. Critics called it the dumbest play in history. But was the call ...more
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Published (first published 2018)
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Average rating 3.83  · 
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 ·  4,968 ratings  ·  559 reviews


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Eric Lin
Feb 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
tl;dr Acknowledge the (omni)presence of uncertainty in every decision we make, and recognize that "everything is a bet" - even decisions we're very confident in.

In poker, luck is acknowledged as a major factor in every hand. If you have a 50% chance to win a $100 hand, it is a sound decision to bet anything under $50 on the hand. Make this decision enough times, and you will eventually come out ahead (spending anything less than the expected ROI: $50 is net positive). But we have trouble
...more
Johan
Feb 14, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
First half is basically Superforecasting recap

Second half is more interesting, with actionable techniques and tips to systematically improve decision-making
Eric Franklin
Jul 31, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is a fantastic book for understanding, identifying, and correcting biases in decision making, while also repeatedly separating the quality of a decision-making process from its outcomes.
Kushal
Mar 13, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good Book but if you are already aware of the common human cognitive biases (Influence by Caldini / Charlie Munger's psychology of human misjudgement speech - are good starts) then it might be repetitive.
Anton
3+

This book is nicely written, with good examples, and curious titbits about life of pro-level poker players.

It also has a great premise: all decisions are bets. But I felt there was just too much filler content to make it a satisfying experience for me. So while I enjoyed some bits a lot, I was skim reading the others.

I would recommend this book as a good intro read if you haven’t been following recent popular science releases on decision-making for the past 5 years or so. It also includes a
...more
Leo Walsh
Jun 28, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've read quite dozens of pop-science books on contemporary cognitive science. And nearly all cover our "predictably irrational" cognitive biases. But few offer effective strategies for overcoming our built-in human failings. But former poker champ (and one-time Penn State PhD candidate) Annie Duke manages both in THINKING IN BETS.

I found the book captivating from the opening pages. She uses Pete Carroll's infamous 2015 Super Bowl play-call, a pass from the one-yard line that the Patriots
...more
Morgan Blackledge
Jan 25, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
One of author Annie Duke’s key insights is: ‘life is more like poker than chess.’

Meaning, we often make decisions and negotiate in an atmosphere of tension and deceit, without all of the information, based on probability (like poker).

As opposed to making choices and deals in a rational, formal, mechanistic context, where all of the information is available, and based on game theory, where we can reasonably assume the other player will make their best move (like chess).

Annie Duke splits lanes
...more
Manaf
Mar 11, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Th author discusses the topic of decision making and the probabilistic mindset that should be adopted. The unnecessary repetitiveness made this book boring and longer than it should be.
Graeme Newell
Apr 05, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: overdrive
I really enjoyed this book. The author, Annie Duke, is a famous professional poker player. She has spent her life sitting around a poker table attempting to predict how chance and human behavior will coalesce to influence outcomes. This has given her a delightfully refreshing vantage point on the fallibilities of decision making.

Most of us vastly underestimate the role that good and bad luck play in the outcomes of our daily lives. Duke points out that we want to believe we are firmly in
...more
Ryan Lackey
Aug 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Great book on statistical thinking in business by a woman with a poker background and only a moderate ego, compared to a certain trader with a massive ego who has written about low probability high impact events. The first part of the book is more general statistical thinking, but presented well, and the last is more self-help about working around inherent cognitive biases and limitations.
Steve
Jul 29, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a combined review of the following books:
Gary Smith, "What the Luck?"
Dan Ariely, "Predictably Irrational"
Annie Duke, "Thinking in Bets"
Gary Smith, "Standard Deviations"


I'm a big believer that statistics and behavioral economics are much under-appreciated fields. As a booster shot, to recharge my thinking in these areas, I picked up these books. They pretty much did the job; they are well-written in the language of the common person.

Ms. Duke's work uses her experience as a gambler to shed
...more
Marc Sims
Apr 30, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Really helpful. Main points:
- You should speak less dogmatically when you don’t know all the facts
- You rarely know all the facts
- Don’t confuse a good decision that led to poor results with a bad decision. Sometimes you just get unlucky.
- Confirmation bias predisposes you to interpret data in unreliable ways and the more intelligent you are the worse that problem is.
- Don’t make decisions based on immediate gratification—redefine happiness in light of a lifetime goal rather than the
...more
Carl Rannaberg
Mar 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Really good book about the fundamentals of making smarter decisions. It's just simple and accessible advice backed up with interesting stories and examples and plenty of references to other books the read more. The main point in this book is that the world is almost never black and white. Nothing is 100% certain. Instead of being confident about something you should start thinking about how confident you are about it. Resulters only concentrate on results and doesn’t think that the decisions ...more
Cristian Strat
Decision frameworks and mental models from a professional poker player

The book makes a compelling case for decisions as bets and predictions as continuous probability distributions instead of black or white, or max-likelihood discrete choices. It draws on poker stories to illustrate these concepts convincingly.

The author is having difficulties situating these lessons in a business setting. Only a few examples are explored, but they're rather thin and unconvincing. More examples, and tactics on
...more
Charlie Kubal
Nov 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of my most recommended non-fiction books of the year -- frames a way of thinking that I think is severely undervalued, and combats our culture's increasing tendency to retroactively call decisions good or bad solely based on result, and assess ideas based on their source versus their merit. Quick read with a high ratio of value to length -- highly recommend it.
ScienceOfSuccess
This supposed to be a nice book about poker, with some science behind.

But Author just pointed out that poker is mixed luck and skill, and you should focus on skill part. That's all, honestly.

There was a lot of smart things from over 100 self-help books, but reading them all put together and tide to poker was painful.
Ali Sattari
Concrete advice and tangible examples on how to make better decisions. This book offers a practical view for day to day life on top of findings of behavioral-economics giants like Kahneman.
Romanas
Mar 22, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Life is a constant betting game. This is what Annie Duke's book suggests. I can't agree more -- from tiny everyday decisions to great life-changing steps –- there’s always a bet, for better or worse outcome. Even when we think we’re not betting, it is a bet in itself. Pizza or salad for the dinner tonight, should I take that new job offer, ask out this girlfriend or wait for a potentially better one? That’s the constant game we play. Each decision or lack of it has consequences, so we’re trying ...more
Klaus Leopold
The content has little to do with the title. If the book was called" Introduction to probabilistic thinking", it would be more appropriate and I would not have bought it.

It really got off to a good start. A bad result does not have to be the result of a bad decision. The world is not like playing chess, where there is practically no randomness involved. At that time I thought to myself, the writer would introduce me to the subject and then go deeper. Unfortunately, there is not much more depth.
...more
Hien Le
Oct 18, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
The book is a very shallow literature review of behavioral economics. Sprinkled throughout are references to recent events (Pete Carroll Superbowl moment) and glimpses into the author's career as a Poker player (discussions of outcomes with peers and player support network) but neither in any sufficient depth to be meaningful anecdotes. The referenced literature is paraphrased and summarized poorly, but repeated or elaborated in an unhelpful manner meant obviously to fulfill a word-count quota.

...more
Akshith Rao
Mar 31, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Who knew that the world of poker and behavioral economics had something in common. It was refreshing to read a book that talked about dealing with our biases rather than pointing to the different ways we trip ourselves into irrationality. Although we might not be as lucky as Annie to find a group that accelerates our efforts to tame the irrational mind, Tools like the betting strategy, inviting feedback and 10:10:10 rule can be pretty useful. I felt that the poker and baseball examples were used ...more
Bartosz Majewski
Jun 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: business
When making a hiring decision I'm making reasoning from this book since I can remember. Since the concept of betting and playing unfair games is close to me I couldn't look away when someone recommended me this book.

This is just a solid framework of continuously improving your decisionmaking. Some things (Duhigg and Kahneman or Taleb fragments) repeated other publications I've read, however, a lot of it was fresh, actionable and juicy. Highly recommended since this is a book of a fellow
...more
Paul Weidinger
The mindset of approaching decisions as if you had to bet on them, and realizing there are no absolutes, is very valuable. However, this book suffers from a lot of the same ailments as others in the genre: it's an insightful 30-page idea in a 230-page package. There's too much pop-science fluff and meandering anecdotes.
Holdon Son
Mar 31, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Light 4. Follows a very by-the-book path in the vein of Gladwell/Levitt (pop culture analogy, thesis statement, bits about statistics, back to analogy), but I feel like there's parts of this I can definitely apply to real life.
Abdulrahman Kauther
I didn’t mind the repetitiveness that much. But someone for the love of FUCK tell Annie Duke that one feels *well*; one does not feel *good*. Am I an extremist Grammar Nazi for expecting sound grammar in a book?

The book was clearly intended for a deeply American audience, as shown by its style and Duke’s choice of stories and analogies. Most annoyingly, the highly detailed stories about American sports. It is truly difficult to follow the points she is trying to make when you haven’t the
...more
Terri Mead
Nov 17, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
There was so much goodness in this book that I wrote a blog post on why more women should be playing poker and how we should be approaching life as Annie suggests in the book. I listened to it and then bought the hard bound copy so I could highlight sections and refer back periodically.
Zhou Fang
I had relatively high expectations for this book as I found it on multiple reading lists. However, I was ultimately disappointed as this book ended up being a literature review of the same studies that have generated many self-help and popular psychology books over the past decade. Annie Duke incorporates her experience both as a doctorate student in psychology and a poker player into the theme of the book (which is mostly about focusing on the process of making positive expected-value bets). ...more
Howard
Mar 16, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: self-help
"Our capacity for self-deception has no boundaries."

There is no luck. With a combination of learning and truth-seeking, you can make better decisions in almost every area of your life.
Pete
Jul 19, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
Thinking in Bets: Making Smarter Decisions When You Don't Have All the Facts (2018) by Annie Duke is an interesting look at how decision making in many circumstances is like poker and what many people can learn from professional poker players about making decisions when lacking information.

Duke made a lot of money playing poker and talks about how she did it. How she would go over her decisions from games with other professional players. It's fascinating that they wouldn't focus on the results,
...more
Rory Toohey
Dryly and formulaically written (pop culture example, followed by research and the take away). A lot of "what" and "why" to think in bets, but often missing the "how". There's a few interesting ideas to try to implement, but many of the suggestions and lessons seem to either be a) too impractical to actually employ in real life or b) require so much discipline that you'd probably not be having the issue in the first place.

I also still think Pete Carroll made the wrong call.
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Annie Duke (born Anne LaBarr Lederer) is a professional poker player and author who won a bracelet in the 2004 World Series of Poker $2,000 Omaha Hi-Low Split-8 or Better Event and was the winner of the 2004 World Series of Poker Tournament of Champions, where she earned the Winner-Take-All prize of $2,000,000.
“What makes a decision great is not that it has a great outcome. A great decision is the result of a good process, and that process must include an attempt to accurately represent our own state of knowledge. That state of knowledge, in turn, is some variation of “I’m not sure.” 8 likes
“Improving decision quality is about increasing our chances of good outcomes, not guaranteeing them.” 6 likes
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