"Thinking in Bets" by Annie Duke

Review by Borodutch

Not going to lie; when I first opened this book, I thought I stumbled across a title that I'd already read — but the one I had in mind turned out to be "The Biggest Bluff" by Maria Konnikova. However, only the beginning sounded similar — "Thinking in Bets" is another type of beast. The author cites research semi-heavily and suggests improving decision-making strategies in everyday life. If you've subscribed to me long enough, you already know that I like such books!

Annie compares life to poker as opposed to chess. Whereas chess has no "fog of war" and involves very little luck, poker deals in probabilities and randomness. The author emphasizes this because she proposes that everything we do in life is a bet. And not only a wager against other players — but also a chance against every other hypothetical version of ourselves that might have been better or worse off.

Some of the decisions we make are minuscule. However, good and bad choices compound over the long term. To place better bets, we must strive to get the most objective worldview possible by carefully and meticulously calibrating the worldviews. The idea of constantly modifying the probabilities and making ourselves more aligned with the objective reality falls nicely into the strategies applied by superforecasters. Over dozens of years, a person with a more accurate worldview will almost always be better off than a biased counterpart.

I enjoyed the part where the author explains the most common cognitive biases that make people act irrationally — for instance, underestimating the role of luck or the attribution error. I subscribe to all the same ideas as the author, so I'm very biased toward recommending this book to everyone.

There is so much to this short book that I almost wish it was longer. The strategies the author proposes in the later parts of the book are so helpful that I genuinely want this book to be a part of a high-school curriculum. Go pick up "Thinking in Bets" right now — it will make your life way (way) better!