Annie Duke aka “The Duchess of Poker” is one of the leading money winners among women in the World Series of Poker history and is the author of Thinking in Bets: Making Smarter Decisions When You Don’t Have All the Facts.
Her conversation with Jordan Harbinger on how to make decisions like a poker champion was revelatory! It helped me understand why I’ve made a lot of terrible decisions in my life and how to make less terrible decisions going forward.
This podcast conversation captivated me so much that I listened to it every week for 5 weeks straight this summer. I highly recommend anyone who wants to become a better decision-maker to listen to this ASAP. I want to share with you some of my favorite parts to encourage you to listen to the full podcast when you have time!
What I Learned From (WILF) – The Jordan Harbinger Show: #40 Annie Duke
- Avoid resulting. Too many people look at the results that come from the decision instead of the actual quality of the decision.
- To avoid blind spot bias, form a truth-seeking decision-making pod around yourself to evaluate whether or not you are making good decisions reliably.
- Ask yourself, “What’s the probability of me being certain on this matter?” often.
Bad decisions can sometimes result in good outcomes, and if we wrongly attribute the good outcomes that can come out of bad decisions as examples of the quality of our decision-making skills instead of sheer luck, we will be setting up ourselves for future failures.
For example, people can run a red light (bad decision) and not be harmed by it. However, the result of not being harmed after running a red light doesn’t mean running a red light is a quality decision!
Most bad decisions are not as obvious as running a red light. This is why I want to share with you a pretty obvious bad decision of mine that I used to think was a quality decision before listening to this podcast because the results were good.
About twenty years ago, I was in charge of hiring a general contractor to gut-renovate a 900 sqft apartment. Not knowing where to find a general contractor, I asked my parents, who had never done any renovation of any kind for advice. They told me to call around in the classified section of the World Journal (a Chinese-language newspaper) and I did exactly that.
Out of the many ads I called, only four contractors were willing to visit the 900 sqft apartment and provide an estimate. I chose the guy who seemed the most legitimate and looked the nicest only to discover after I paid a 50% deposit that he had shown me a fraudulent contractor’s license!
He assured me that was a small detail and that he would complete the remodel within the 1-month projected timeline. And he did! The entire apartment turned out great, under budget, and he finished in 3 and 1/2 weeks.
It would be foolish of me to base the good results I got from my low-quality decision as a model for choosing a general contractor in the future. If it wasn’t for Annie Duke, I would still be patting myself on the back for knowing instinctively how to pick a trustworthy contractor.
Truth-Seeking Decision-Making Pod
Annie Duke says that if we want to make better decisions, it’s important to form a truth-seeking decision-making pod that is committed to being as least biased as possible to develop the most accurate representation of the objective truth and to hold each other accountable.
The reason is that pretty much everyone has a “bias blind spot,” meaning that we are less likely to detect bias in ourselves. However, many of us are pretty good at spotting them in other people, which is why forming a group makes sense.
I’ve seen my close friends make many terrible decisions and they have seen me make many terrible decisions. Yet we’ve never stopped each other in the past because we didn’t know the importance of forming a truth-seeking decision-making pod to help us all make better decisions.
Thanks to Annie Duke, I’ve now formed a pod where we trust each other to point out and challenge each other’s implicit biases and are committed to eagerly receiving diverse viewpoints! I’m excited to be making better decisions in the future with my pod’s help.
What’s the Probability of Me Being Certain on This Matter?
Annie Duke thinks that too many people speak in absolutes when their certainty is actually somewhere between 0% and 100%. Annie Duke likes to give her answer in probabilities which I think is brilliant.
For example, I used to tell people that “I’m going to move to Southern California in 2025.” That’s a 100% sure-sounding statement when I’m really about 80% sure. Part of the doubt is that I felt uneasy about all the wildfires and water shortages that California has. Another is because I’m unsure that the increase in projected happiness of living in sunny Southern California will be enough to mitigate the sadness I will feel from being a 6-hour flight from pretty much all of my closest friends.
After listening to Jordan Harbinger’s conversation with Annie Duke, I’ve decided going forward to try out giving answers in probabilities when the occasion calls for it.
Overall Thoughts on The Jordan Harbinger Show: #40 Annie Duke
The gist of what I learned from Annie Duke is that the quality of a person’s life will be a product of two factors, luck and the quality of their decisions. Since a person can’t control luck, then they need to focus on the quality of their decisions if they want to live a better quality of life.
I highly recommended this podcast episode to people who are seeking to make better decisions or have an interest in poker!