Summary of Thinking in Bets

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Thinking in Bets book summary

Editorial Rating



  • Background
  • For Beginners
  • Engaging


Annie Duke went from studying for her doctorate in psychology to winning more than $4 million and multiple championships in professional poker. Here she molds what she learned at the poker table into sound, practical advice for making decisions in life. She writes with equal compassion for people who think luck dominates their lives and for people who believe their own skills drive every outcome. Duke believes that both luck and skill define every decision. She offers original ideas about learning to make better choices, such as creating a “truthseeking” group of like-minded friends to review one another’s life decisions with kindhearted ruthlessness. Anyone who has to make decisions on a regular basis will welcome Duke’s program for getting out of your own way.

About the Author

Annie Duke, the only woman to win the WSOP Tournament of Champions and the NBC National Heads-Up Poker Championship, is a corporate speaker and consultant on decision strategy.


Every bet in poker is a “decision about an uncertain future.”

Annie Duke graduated from Columbia University with undergraduate degrees in English and psychology. She earned a master’s degree at the University of Pennsylvania and intended to earn a PhD in cognitive psychology. Fate intervened, however, and she found herself in rural Montana. Her brother Howard, a poker player who would go on to win more than $6 million playing professionally, urged her to play in Billings. Duke ended up enjoying a two-decade career as a professional poker player. She won a World Series of Poker gold bracelet, the WSOP Tournament of Champions and the NBC National Heads-Up Championship. In total, she won more than $4 million.

Duke came to understand that poker is a crucible for learning about decision-making: how she made decisions, how others made decisions and how people regard their own decision-making processes. A poker hand usually involves about 20 choices. The result of those decisions is simple: The player wins money or loses it. So every hand proves to be a rich vein of feedback that the astute player can mine. Duke came to regard bets as decisions. Because...

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    R. T. 4 months ago
    As a book abstract this is a very interesting read and I need to buy the book. It's seemingly badly rated, and depending on your perspective could just as easily be a "9" as a "6".
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    E. S. 2 years ago
    Annie's video at Google Talks was a great summary of the book's views and advice:

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