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Book synthesis

Deciding (when you can’t see a thing)

Winners in poker aren’t the players with the best hand, but people who best adapt to the hazards of chance and their opponents’ bluffs. In today’s uncertain environment, a few poker lessons may be your best guide.

Maria Konnikova, a journalist and psychology graduate from Columbia University, set herself a special challenge in 2016: to learn how to play poker so she could explore decision-making processes in a context where nothing is certain. And her bet paid off: two years later Konnikova had won a major professional poker tournament, hundreds of thousands of dollars and demonstrated that the strategies of the top poker players can be used to optimize the choices we make in volatile environments.  


Amathematician John von Neumann, the author of Theory of Games and Economic Behavior, once noted, poker reflects the complexity of life. Unlike Russian roulette, poker isnt about pure chance: mathematical logic plays a role. Unlike chess, however, poker cannot be modeled by an algorithm: the bluffing aspect – the human, psychological dimension – plays a decisive role. This means that the player holding the best hand wins only 12 percent of the time.  


Having good cards isnt enough in itself: its the best strategist who wins, even with a poor hand. Maybe you dont hold all the cards but still want to increase your chances of winning? Then watch the poker pros closely. 


Find out what is really in your control 


Excerpt from Business Digest N°309, September 2020


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Françoise Tollet
Published by Françoise Tollet
She spent 12 years in industry, working for Bolloré Technologies, among others. She co-founded Business Digest in 1992 and has been running the company since 1998. And she took the Internet plunge in 1996, even before coming on board as part of the BD team.