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

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

Thinking in Bets: outlet sale Making Smarter popular Decisions When You Don't Have All the Facts outlet online sale
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Wall Street Journal bestseller!

Poker champion turned business consultant Annie Duke teaches you how to get comfortable with uncertainty and make better decisions as a result.


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 really that bad? Or did Carroll actually make a great move that was ruined by bad luck?

Even the best decision doesn''t yield the best outcome every time. There''s always an element of luck that you can''t control, and there is always information that is hidden from view. So the key to long-term success (and avoiding worrying yourself to death) is to think in bets: How sure am I? What are the possible ways things could turn out? What decision has the highest odds of success? Did I land in the unlucky 10% on the strategy that works 90% of the time? Or is my success attributable to dumb luck rather than great decision making?

Annie Duke, a former World Series of Poker champion turned business consultant, draws on examples from business, sports, politics, and (of course) poker to share tools anyone can use to embrace uncertainty and make better decisions. For most people, it''s difficult to say "I''m not sure" in a world that values and, even, rewards the appearance of certainty. But professional poker players are comfortable with the fact that great decisions don''t always lead to great outcomes and bad decisions don''t always lead to bad outcomes.

By shifting your thinking from a need for certainty to a goal of accurately assessing what you know and what you don''t, you''ll be less vulnerable to reactive emotions, knee-jerk biases, and destructive habits in your decision making. You''ll become more confident, calm, compassionate and successful in the long run.

Review

"A big favorite among investors these days." – The New York Times 
 
"A compact guide to probabilistic domains like poker, or venture capital... Recommend for people operating in the real world." –Marc Andreessen
 
“Outstanding.” –Jason Zweig, The Wall Street Journal

"Duke’s discussion is full of wisdom and also of fun, warmth, humor and humanity. Her sharp, data-driven analysis comes with a large lesson, which is that losers should be willing to forgive themselves: Sometimes the right play just doesn’t work." –Cass Sunstein, co-author of Nudge

"An elegant fusion of poker-table street-smarts and cognitive science insights. This book will make you both a shrewder and wiser player in the game of life." –Philip E. Tetlock, author of Superforecasting

"Thinking in Bets offers a compelling, and eminently useful, new way to think about life''s decisions. Annie Duke has written an important, and often hilarious, book that will help you understand your own shortcomings--and make smarter choices as a result. You can bet on it." –Maria Konnikova, author of The Confidence Game and Mastermind

"The insights Duke offers in this book are incredibly helpful when we contemplate decisions in the face of multiple possible outcomes, and that renders her book enormously applicable to the world of investing." –Howard Marks, co-chairman, Oaktree Capital Management and author of The Most Important Thing

"Through wonderful storytelling and sly wit, Annie Duke has crafted the ultimate guide to thinking about risk. We can all learn how to make better decisions by learning from someone who made choices for a living, with millions on the line." –Charles Duhigg, author of The Power of Habit and Smarter Faster Better 

"Brilliant. Buy ten copies and give one to everyone you work with. It''s that good." –Seth Godin, author of The Icarus Deception

"A mind-bending and indispensable book for entrepreneurs, leaders, and anyone who faces risk on a regular basis." –Olivia Fox Cabane, author of The Net and the Butterfly

“A highly-readable balance between memorable, real-world analogies and hardcore behavioral science studies... The book is packed with insights.” –John Greathouse, Forbes

About the Author

Annie Duke is a World Series of Poker bracelet winner, the winner of the 2004 Tournament of Champions and the only woman to win the NBC National Poker Heads Up Championship. Now, as a professional speaker and decision strategist, she merges her poker expertise with her cognitive psychology graduate work at UPenn. She is a founder of How I Decide, a non-profit that creates curricula and tools to improve decision making and critical thinking skills for under-served middle schoolers.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Chapter 1

Life Is Poker, Not Chess

Pete Carroll and the Monday Morning Quarterbacks

One of the most controversial decisions in Super Bowl history took place in the closing seconds of Super Bowl XLIX in 2015. The Seattle Seahawks, with twenty-six seconds remaining and trailing by four points, had the ball on second down at the New England Patriots'' one-yard line. Everybody expected Seahawks coach Pete Carroll to call for a handoff to running back Marshawn Lynch. Why wouldn''t you expect that call? It was a short-yardage situation and Lynch was one of the best running backs in the NFL.

Instead, Carroll called for quarterback Russell Wilson to pass. New England intercepted the ball, winning the Super Bowl moments later. The headlines the next day were brutal:

USA Today: "What on Earth Was Seattle Thinking with Worst Play Call in NFL History?"

Washington Post: "''Worst Play-Call in Super Bowl History'' Will Forever Alter Perception of Seahawks, Patriots"

FoxSports.com: "Dumbest Call in Super Bowl History Could Be Beginning of the End for Seattle Seahawks"

Seattle Times: "Seahawks Lost Because of the Worst Call in Super Bowl History"

The New Yorker: "A Coach''s Terrible Super Bowl Mistake"

Although the matter was considered by nearly every pundit as beyond debate, a few outlying voices argued that the play choice was sound, if not brilliant. Benjamin Morris''s analysis on FiveThirtyEight.com and Brian Burke''s on Slate.com convincingly argued that the decision to throw the ball was totally defensible, invoking clock-management and end-of-game considerations. They also pointed out that an interception was an extremely unlikely outcome. (Out of sixty-six passes attempted from an opponent''s one-yard line during the season, zero had been intercepted. In the previous fifteen seasons, the interception rate in that situation was about 2%.)

Those dissenting voices didn''t make a dent in the avalanche of criticism directed at Pete Carroll. Whether or not you buy into the contrarian analysis, most people didn''t want to give Carroll the credit for having thought it through, or having any reason at all for his call. That raises the question: Why did so many people so strongly believe that Pete Carroll got it so wrong?

We can sum it up in four words: the play didn''t work.

Take a moment to imagine that Wilson completed the pass for a game-winning touchdown. Wouldn''t the headlines change to "Brilliant Call" or "Seahawks Win Super Bowl on Surprise Play" or "Carroll Outsmarts Belichick"? Or imagine the pass had been incomplete and the Seahawks scored (or didn''t) on a third- or fourth-down running play. The headlines would be about those other plays. What Pete Carroll called on second down would have been ignored.

Carroll got unlucky. He had control over the quality of the play-call decision, but not over how it turned out. It was exactly because he didn''t get a favorable result that he took the heat. He called a play that had a high percentage of ending in a game-winning touchdown or an incomplete pass (which would have allowed two more plays for the Seahawks to hand off the ball to Marshawn Lynch). He made a good-quality decision that got a bad result.

Pete Carroll was a victim of our tendency to equate the quality of a decision with the quality of its outcome. Poker players have a word for this: "resulting." When I started playing poker, more experienced players warned me about the dangers of resulting, cautioning me to resist the temptation to change my strategy just because a few hands didn''t turn out well in the short run.

Pete Carroll understood that his universe of critics was guilty of resulting. Four days after the Super Bowl, he appeared on the Today show and acknowledged, "It was the worst result of a call ever," adding, "The call would have been a great one if we catch it. It would have been just fine, and nobody would have thought twice about it."

Why are we so bad at separating luck and skill? Why are we so uncomfortable knowing that results can be beyond our control? Why do we create such a strong connection between results and the quality of the decisions preceding them? How can we avoid falling into the trap of the Monday Morning Quarterback, whether it is in analyzing someone else''s decision or in making and reviewing the decisions in our own lives?

The hazards of resulting

Take a moment to imagine your best decision in the last year. Now take a moment to imagine your worst decision.

I''m willing to bet that your best decision preceded a good result and the worst decision preceded a bad result.

That is a safe bet for me because resulting isn''t just something we do from afar. Monday Morning Quarterbacks are an easy target, as are writers and bloggers providing instant analysis to a mass audience. But, as I found out from my own experiences in poker, resulting is a routine thinking pattern that bedevils all of us. Drawing an overly tight relationship between results and decision quality affects our decisions every day, potentially with far-reaching, catastrophic consequences.

When I consult with executives, I sometimes start with this exercise. I ask group members to come to our first meeting with a brief description of their best and worst decisions of the previous year. I have yet to come across someone who doesn''t identify their best and worst results rather than their best and worst decisions.

In a consulting meeting with a group of CEOs and business owners, one member of the group identified firing the president of his company as his worst decision. He explained, "Since we fired him, the search for a replacement has been awful. We''ve had two different people on the job. Sales are falling. The company''s not doing well. We haven''t had anybody come in who actually turns out to be as good as he was."

That sounds like a disastrous result, but I was curious to probe into why the CEO thought the decision to fire his president was so bad (other than that it didn''t work out).

He explained the decision process and the basis of the conclusion to fire the president. "We looked at our direct competitors and comparable companies, and concluded we weren''t performing up to their level. We thought we could perform and grow at that level and that it was probably a leadership issue."

I asked whether the process included working with the president to understand his skill gaps and what he could be doing better. The company had, indeed, worked with him to identify his skill gaps. The CEO hired an executive coach to work with him on improving his leadership skills, the chief weakness identified.

In addition, after executive coaching failed to produce improved performance, the company considered splitting the president''s responsibilities, having him focus on his strengths and moving other responsibilities to another executive. They rejected that idea, concluding that the president''s morale would suffer, employees would likely perceive it as a vote of no confidence, and it would put extra financial pressure on the company to split a position they believed one person could fill.

Finally, the CEO provided some background about the company''s experience making high-level outside hires and its understanding of the available talent. It sounded like the CEO had a reasonable basis for believing they would find someone better.

I asked the assembled group, "Who thinks this was a bad decision?" Not surprisingly, everybody agreed the company had gone through a thoughtful process and made a decision that was reasonable given what they knew at the time.

It sounded like a bad result, not a bad decision. The imperfect relationship between results and decision quality devastated the CEO and adversely affected subsequent decisions regarding the company. The CEO had identified the decision as a mistake solely because it didn''t work out. He obviously felt a lot of anguish and regret because of the decision. He stated very clearly that he thought he should have known that the decision to fire the president would turn out badly. His decision-making behavior going forward reflected the belief that he made a mistake. He was not only resulting but also succumbing to its companion, hindsight bias. Hindsight bias is the tendency, after an outcome is known, to see the outcome as having been inevitable. When we say, "I should have known that would happen," or, "I should have seen it coming," we are succumbing to hindsight bias.

Those beliefs develop from an overly tight connection between outcomes and decisions. That is typical of how we evaluate our past decisions. Like the army of critics of Pete Carroll''s decision to pass on the last play of the Super Bowl, the CEO had been guilty of resulting, ignoring his (and his company''s) careful analysis and focusing only on the poor outcome. The decision didn''t work out, and he treated that result as if it were an inevitable consequence rather than a probabilistic one.

In the exercise I do of identifying your best and worst decisions, I never seem to come across anyone who identifies a bad decision where they got lucky with the result, or a well-reasoned decision that didn''t pan out. We link results with decisions even though it is easy to point out indisputable examples where the relationship between decisions and results isn''t so perfectly correlated. No sober person thinks getting home safely after driving drunk reflects a good decision or good driving ability. Changing future decisions based on that lucky result is dangerous and unheard of (unless you are reasoning this out while drunk and obviously deluding yourself).

Yet this is exactly what happened to that CEO. He changed his behavior based on the quality of the result rather than the quality of the decision-making process. He decided he drove better when he was drunk.

Quick or dead: our brains weren''t built for rationality

The irrationality displayed by Pete Carroll''s critics and the CEO should come as no surprise to anyone familiar with behavioral economics. Thanks to the work of many brilliant psychologists, economists, cognitive researchers, and neuroscientists, there are a number of excellent books that explain why humans are plagued by certain kinds of irrationality in decision-making. (If you are unaware of these books, see the Selected Bibliography and Recommendations for Further Reading.) But here''s a summary.

To start, our brains evolved to create certainty and order. We are uncomfortable with the idea that luck plays a significant role in our lives. We recognize the existence of luck, but we resist the idea that, despite our best efforts, things might not work out the way we want. It feels better for us to imagine the world as an orderly place, where randomness does not wreak havoc and things are perfectly predictable. We evolved to see the world that way. Creating order out of chaos has been necessary for our survival.

When our ancestors heard rustling on the savanna and a lion jumped out, making a connection between "rustling" and "lions" could save their lives on later occasions. Finding predictable connections is, literally, how our species survived. Science writer, historian, and skeptic Michael Shermer, in The Believing Brain, explains why we have historically (and prehistorically) looked for connections even if they were doubtful or false. Incorrectly interpreting rustling from the wind as an oncoming lion is called a type I error, a false positive. The consequences of such an error were much less grave than those of a type II error, a false negative. A false negative could have been fatal: hearing rustling and always assuming it''s the wind would have gotten our ancestors eaten, and we wouldn''t be here.

Seeking certainty helped keep us alive all this time, but it can wreak havoc on our decisions in an uncertain world. When we work backward from results to figure out why those things happened, we are susceptible to a variety of cognitive traps, like assuming causation when there is only a correlation, or cherry-picking data to confirm the narrative we prefer. We will pound a lot of square pegs into round holes to maintain the illusion of a tight relationship between our outcomes and our decisions.

Different brain functions compete to control our decisions. Nobel laureate and psychology professor Daniel Kahneman, in his 2011 best-selling Thinking, Fast and Slow, popularized the labels of "System 1" and "System 2." He characterized System 1 as "fast thinking." System 1 is what causes you to hit the brakes the instant someone jumps into the street in front of your car. It encompasses reflex, instinct, intuition, impulse, and automatic processing. System 2, "slow thinking," is how we choose, concentrate, and expend mental energy. Kahneman explains how System 1 and System 2 are capable of dividing and conquering our decision-making but work mischief when they conflict.

I particularly like the descriptive labels "reflexive mind" and "deliberative mind" favored by psychologist Gary Marcus. In his 2008 book, Kluge: The Haphazard Evolution of the Human Mind, he wrote, "Our thinking can be divided into two streams, one that is fast, automatic, and largely unconscious, and another that is slow, deliberate, and judicious." The first system, "the reflexive system, seems to do its thing rapidly and automatically, with or without our conscious awareness." The second system, "the deliberative system . . . deliberates, it considers, it chews over the facts."

The differences between the systems are more than just labels. Automatic processing originates in the evolutionarily older parts of the brain, including the cerebellum, basal ganglia, and amygdala. Our deliberative mind operates out of the prefrontal cortex.

Colin Camerer, a professor of behavioral economics at Caltech and leading speaker and researcher on the intersection of game theory and neuroscience, explained to me the practical folly of imagining that we could just get our deliberative minds to do more of the decision-making work. "We have this thin layer of prefrontal cortex made just for us, sitting on top of this big animal brain. Getting this thin little layer to handle more is unrealistic." The prefrontal cortex doesn''t control most of the decisions we make every day. We can''t fundamentally get more out of that unique, thin layer of prefrontal cortex. "It''s already overtaxed," he told me.

These are the brains we have and they aren''t changing anytime soon. Making more rational decisions isn''t just a matter of willpower or consciously handling more decisions in deliberative mind. Our deliberative capacity is already maxed out. We don''t have the option, once we recognize the problem, of merely shifting the work to a different part of the brain, as if you hurt your back lifting boxes and shifted to relying on your leg muscles.

Both deliberative and reflexive mind are necessary for our survival and advancement. The big decisions about what we want to accomplish recruit the deliberative system. Most of the decisions we execute on the way to achieving those goals, however, occur in reflexive mind. The shortcuts built into the automatic processing system kept us from standing around on the savanna, debating the origin of a potentially threatening sound while its source devoured us. Those shortcuts keep us alive, routinely executing the thousands of decisions that make it possible for us to live our daily lives.

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Donnie
2.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Its Value Could Be Summarized in One Page
Reviewed in the United States on May 3, 2018
A positive write-up in the Wall Street Journal led me to purchase the book. I was looking for multiple and unique strategies to make decisions in the face of uncertainty. I had to stop after reading 40% of the book. From what I read, the book''s entire value can probably be... See more
A positive write-up in the Wall Street Journal led me to purchase the book. I was looking for multiple and unique strategies to make decisions in the face of uncertainty. I had to stop after reading 40% of the book. From what I read, the book''s entire value can probably be summed up in one page. The book repeated the same thing over and over and over again just in different words with boring filler descriptions, published work of others and examples (like the AA sobriety program). It was like reading the same chapter over and over.

Forget a one page summary, here is the crux of the book: Make a decision as if you are betting all of your money on your choice. Don''t take shortcuts based on your inborn biases and seek contrarian opinions and experienced counsel. Don''t blame bad luck on bad outcomes; figure out how you could have made a better informed decision. Oh, and surprise, surprise, join groups with participants who have had similar experiences and expertise who can critique your choices and illuminate your blindspots. There you go.
815 people found this helpful
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Hal Stern
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Far beyond a strategy book, it''s an examination of how to improve our professional and personal behavior
Reviewed in the United States on February 6, 2018
Annie Duke is best known as a professional poker player and author of poker oriented books, but in "Thinking In Bets" retraces her academic history -- it''s a business book, a strategy book, a behavioral psychology book, an organizational effectiveness book and of... See more
Annie Duke is best known as a professional poker player and author of poker oriented books, but in "Thinking In Bets" retraces her academic history -- it''s a business book, a strategy book, a behavioral psychology book, an organizational effectiveness book and of course has residual elements of a poker book at its core. It is, quite simply, one of the best business books and actionable management books I have read in years -- it''s up there with Peter Thiel''s "Zero to One." If you''re wondering what Pete Carroll''s pass play call at the end of the 2014 Super Bowl, Steve Bartman''s interference in the Cubs playoff game that eventually forced him out of Chicago, legal strategists, poker professional Phil Ivey and corporate planning have in common, buy and read, then re-read Duke''s book.

I digested an advanced reader''s copy of the book, and it''s one of the few things I''ve annotated as I went, making notes that I''ve used in staff meetings and 1:1 discussions in the last few weeks. The whole thing reads the way you''d expect and want; it''s like talking to Annie Duke in your living room with the right blend of snark, deep insights wrapped in powerful examples, and force. I''ve read several dozen business and strategy books, and most of them paint generic pictures of leadership or organizational behavior - "Thinking In Bets" actually lays out a map for where your decision making processes (and as a result, leadership and organizational acumen) are deficient, and how to build a self-improvement plan to address those shortcomings. It''s a bit of personal coaching in a purely positive direction, which is as rare as it is helpful.

Here are just some of the things I took away:
- Resist the urge to associate bad outcomes (Seahawks losing to the Patriots in the Super Bowl) with bad decisions (Pete Carroll''s play call was backing by solid data). My concern is that as we make continued investments in data science and analytics, we will tend to use that data for "resulting" rather than supporting the quality of decisions, and we''ll end up with many fewer aggressive or game-changing decisions.
- We can improve the way in which we collect and vet data, and that process may challenge some of our assumptions (one of my immediate reactions was that adopting this line of thinking actually addresses the closely held belief firewall that Matt Inman addresses in his "belief" comic
- Finding a peer group that can help you build a non-confrontational, non-threatening decision review team will improve your executive function and "network leadership" (which explains why there are CxO councils, nerd exchanges, and even why hackathons are popular -- they are immediate and safe spaces in which to share decisions ranging from corporate strategy to Javascript toolkit choice)
- Some decision paths have hysteresis - even if you end up at the same outcome, the path you take to get there may be different and therefore your valuation of the outcome is different. The example Duke dissects is winning $1,000 and then losing $900 of it back, versus losing $1,000 and winning $900 back -- you''re likely to be happier you "only lost" $100 versus the outcome where you "only won" $100.
- We have to imagine the future impacts of our decisions, which involves scenario planning, careful consideration of risks and future inputs (information) we may or may not see, and some of that future-proofing involves changing our reward valuation such that we are able to break consistently bad or ill-informed decision making processes.

Sound like a lot? It is. It''s a dense book. I read it in parallel with a some "lighter" science fiction because I found I had to turn over some of the ideas in my mind and think about both how I''ve personally exhibited some of the impairing behaviors, and how I could better use these strategies in my professional and personal domains.
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Arthur Reber
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
you know ones like you and me who make decisions all the time
Reviewed in the United States on April 4, 2018
About a quarter of the way into this latest missive from Annie Duke I found myself wondering if she''s writing for the business community but in a way that regular folks, you know ones like you and me who make decisions all the time, would get something out of or written for... See more
About a quarter of the way into this latest missive from Annie Duke I found myself wondering if she''s writing for the business community but in a way that regular folks, you know ones like you and me who make decisions all the time, would get something out of or written for us but in a way that those in the corporate world would be well-advised to read. At about the one-third mark I realized (duh) that it''s both and it''s written with such charm and insightfulness (and humor) that it succeeds splendidly on both agendas.
Duke is a rare trifecta: she has a solid academic background in cognitive psychology, she was a world-class professional poker player, and is currently a corporate and business consultant. All three of these "Dukes" are poured into the book in compelling and unique ways. I''m a cognitive psychologist and have played a lot of poker (not in her league I can assure you) and so I''m intrigued by the way she lays out the lessons we need to learn.
First: in science, poker, and business you rarely, if ever, have all the information. In poker you don''t know your opponents cards and you don''t know what they''re thinking -- including what they''re thinking about what they think you''re thinking. In scientific research you only know what''s been discovered so far. You''re ignorant about the unknown and are trying to extrapolate from current knowledge. In business and finance you unsure of the future, only know some things about markets, and work with incomplete models. In these partial information settings decision-making becomes difficult, tricky, and often contaminated by bias.
Second: virtually all the interesting things we do in life are bets. Every even mildly complex task we confront or decision we make is, in effect, a bet. And bets have consequences. We take an umbrella because we''re betting it will rain. We hire a new manager and are betting on her skills. We chose college A over B and bet that we''ll get better education. And in these and the myriad other bets we make every day, we don''t have all the facts and, because of the ways in which our minds tend to work, we often run afoul of biases and misunderstandings that lead us to make poor decisions.
And Duke lays out for us the roots of these biases and trenchant advice on how to circumvent them -- with sometimes jarring effectiveness designed to force the reader to suddenly confront what they think they know but don''t. Some examples: a) Try asking someone "want to bet?" when they claim something to be true. It puts them in a totally different place than when they were simply stating what they believed to be true. b) Look at decisions on the basis of how they were made rather than how they turned out -- you can win with a poor decision and lose with a good one but in the long run, it''s the decision-making process that counts. c) Emphasize the need to stop thinking in certainties and recognize probabilities. d) Stop imagining situations as either-or and acknowledge that most things lie along continuums. e) Recognize when you''re in an "echo-chamber" where only viewpoints you''re currently comfortable with are expressed. Quoting Mill, she reminds us that truth only emerges when all sides are heard.
Along the way we''re treated to stories of gamblers, pain and triumph in poker games, the noodling of philosophers, judicial habits of Supreme Court Justices, corporate CEO''s, betting markets, biases of social psychologists, a short but penetrating exegesis on skepticism, some advice on child rearing, and a discourse on mental time travel -- and no, I''m not going to tell you what that is. Read the damn book.
Duke makes her living now as a writer and presenter of her approach to decision-making, a corporate speaker, and a business consultant. I can just imagine jaws dropping when she tells a group of high powered corporate execs that one sure way to succeed is to make sure they have naysayers in corporate headquarters, ensure that they ask for dissenting views and voices before making major (or minor) decisions.
Oh, and in passing, she''s an engaging writer with a sense of humor who can turn a simple setting into a hilarious little psychodrama, especially when revealing some of the weird and wonderful things that happened to her during her days as a professional poker player.
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Beacon
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
A Charlie Munger book.
Reviewed in the United States on April 15, 2018
Thinking in Bets is a Charlie Munger book. Those who are familiar with Charlie’s thinking will know what I mean and will need to read no further. At the crux of the book, using poker as her model, Annie Duke focuses on our tendency to confuse thinking and outcome. We... See more
Thinking in Bets is a Charlie Munger book. Those who are familiar with Charlie’s thinking will know what I mean and will need to read no further. At the crux of the book, using poker as her model, Annie Duke focuses on our tendency to confuse thinking and outcome. We judge our thinking by the outcome, ignoring the substantial uncertainty imbedded in the outcome. We do ourselves only emotional service, or disservice, if we dwell on the outcome—and use that to praise or wage war on ourselves. Duke tells the story of a superb poker play, who likely became superb, because he had no desire to dwell on his success or failure after a game. His focus was on what he could do better. Done with persistence that will get us about as far as chance will allow, just as Charlie would say.
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the fine reverend besotted
1.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
TITLE IS FALSE ADVERTISEMENT AND BOOK LACKS SUBSTANCE
Reviewed in the United States on May 1, 2020
I read Ms. Duke''s poker instruction book and found it solid. She is a wordy writer so not the most enjoyable read but she came across as friendly and lively. Accordingly, I was willing to read this book as I was intrigued by its title. If, like me, you assumed based upon... See more
I read Ms. Duke''s poker instruction book and found it solid. She is a wordy writer so not the most enjoyable read but she came across as friendly and lively. Accordingly, I was willing to read this book as I was intrigued by its title. If, like me, you assumed based upon the title that Ms. Duke provides clear insight as to how thinking is like betting and, thereafter, provides instruction on how to think "in bets"; well, then you also will be unhappy with this book.

Now, if you go to merriam-webster.com and enter “bet”, you find the word primarily means “something that is laid, staked, or pledged typically between two parties on the outcome of a contest or a contingent issue”.

You will note that this definition clearly shows that a “bet” involves at least two people or a person and an entity (i.e. casino) willing to wager/gamble and that generally “bets” are primarily over “contests”, which would be a gambling game (i.e. craps, blackjack, poker) or a sporting event in which the wager is on who would win. You will also note that “bets” are placed on contests/contingency in which the outcome can be determined with certainty so that it is clear to both parties who “won” the bet.

The above definition, however, is not how Ms. Duke uses the word, “bet”. She too references Merriam Webster, but she parses out part of the various definitions to “prove” that “betting” is about “choosing”. [In other words, she basically uses “bet” to mean “decision”; however, a title like “Thinking in Decisions” was be tautological and, otherwise, is not a saleable title.]

Having decided that “bet” is not so much about wagering with another person but about the choices involved in determining the wager. Ms. Duke, thereafter, argues that every decision you make in life is a “choice” and, so, it is a “bet.”

So, while betting involves two or more persons, Ms. Duke exclusively addresses “betting” with yourself. The problem is that, unlike a typical bet in which an adversarial relationship arises with two specific, opposing viewpoints/sides and a clearly determined and certain result which allows the betting parties to determine who will win; Ms. Duke’s twisted version of “betting” has no such objective parameters. Even her examples implicitly show this.

One of her examples is a professional gambler, living in Las Vegas, who entered a proposition bet with his colleagues in which he bet he could live in Des Moines, Iowa for 30 days. The wager was $30,000. However, as it is not difficult to live anywhere for 30 days, particularly a city in the USA, the colleagues set the condition that he could not leave his residential block during the entire 30 days, so a modified version of “house arrest”.

This is a clear bet. There are two adversarial parties, a specific act, which permits both parties to determine with certainty if the condition of the bet was met.

Ms. Duke, however, tries to coach this bet as the professional gambler being tired of Las Vegas and moving to Des Moines to see if he might like living there instead. This is clearly not his intention since you cannot “decide” if you like a city if you are prohibited from leaving the one block on which your residence is located. Ms. Duke ignores all of this and argues that, despite the fact this is a clear bet, it was actually a “bet” by the professional gambler with himself to see if he personally liked Des Moines.

Similarly, she recounts how the Seattle Seahawks lost the Super Bowl when their coach, Pete Carroll, decided to try a pass play from the one-yard line. Rather than try to run it in from one-yard out, the Seahawks passed and the pass was intercepted. Ms. Duke argues this was a “bet” by Coach Carroll. It wasn’t. It was a decision. By her definition, every time you decide to take the long way home, you are “making a bet with yourself” because you cannot be “certain” it will turn out as you hoped.

Which would be fine, I suppose, if Ms. Duke made any attempt to assist the reader in understanding how to see decisions as “bets” by providing a system or structured analysis of the steps required to treat a decision as a “bet with yourself”. However, she does not. She just basically says ‘start seeing every decision as a bet. It will feel strange at first, but you will get use to it.”

So, I guess when I wake up, I have to “make a bet with myself” as to whether I will regret getting out of bed and then as to whether the flouride in the toothpaste is healthy for me and then as to whether I will enjoy my coffee or belatedly wish I had drunk tea ... . Somehow, without setting any stakes nor particularly being clear how I will be certain I ‘won’ or ‘lost’ the “bet with myself”, I am to futilely proceed throughout the day “betting” against myself”.

This makes no sense and as may be clear to you as it is to me, Ms. Duke came up with a clever idea and, rather than put in the necessary effort to seriously develop it, she simply decides to use her “celebrity” as a poker player, e.g. a bettor, to imply she knows what she is talking about - even if she is just talking in circles.

She never seems to understand that being a good "bettor" at poker is entirely different from everyday life. In poker, you generally know the odds and, so, know what probability you have of winning. Deciding is much easier when you know the reasonable likelihood of success. Further, it is clear what is at stake and you can always stop betting (i.e. walk away from your decision), something you cannot easily do in life. FInally, you are provide clear and decisive information on the success of your bet, you either won or lost, and so betting trains you quickly to make decisions at the table because, otherwise, you will go broke. There is no such negative reinforcement of bad decisions in life. In short, it is easy to determine whether or not to bet on a hand at a card table, to determine whether to fold the hand to a raise, and the determine whether your bet was a probable winner, even if you lost the hand. It is not so easy to determine whether the person you intend to marry is a "good bet", nor to "walk away from the bet", nor to determine until years later if the "bet was a probable winner". Bets are a very limited and situational type of decision and do not truly model life decisions - despite the cliched argument that "poker is more like life than chess". I could easily argue that contract bidding in bridges is a more complete analogy to decisions than is betting on a poker hand, but it would still be a poor model of actual decisions in life, simply because games have immediately and clear results which life decisions often do not.

Ms. Duke cites to several sources to show people tend toward absolutes in their judgment, along with confirmation bias and group think when deciding (or when "betting" by her very loose definition); however, she never gives any clear instruction as to how one can overcome such ingrained thought patterns - other than, as noted above, to keep trying to be aware of such patterns and trust by being aware that somehow the pattern will be mitigated.

If you, like me, expect an author to do more than cite to psychological reports which merely prove what most of us already know about bias and such in our decision-making and, otherwise, would like a workable system then you should pass on this book and read Alan Jessop''s "Let the Evidence Speak"; in which he provides a system to use Bayesian analysis to revise your opinions as new information is learned by you.
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Boat Boy
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Buying this book is a good decision!
Reviewed in the United States on February 12, 2018
A lively read that presents a useful and novel framework for analyzing decisions when you are faced with less than perfect information: that is, the situation you likely find yourself in on a daily basis. Annie Duke writes clearly, with verve and wit and uses examples not... See more
A lively read that presents a useful and novel framework for analyzing decisions when you are faced with less than perfect information: that is, the situation you likely find yourself in on a daily basis. Annie Duke writes clearly, with verve and wit and uses examples not just from the poker table but from her experience as a decision strategist and from examples drawn from headlines and stories we all know: was it a bad decision--or just bad luck--that Seattle threw the ball (for an interception) when down by four with 26 seconds left on the clock in Super Bowl XLIX? Was Vizzini really using his “dizzying intellect” to consider all the possibilities in his duel of wits in "The Princess Bride"? Did Steve Bartman really cause the Cubs to lose the 2003 NL division series in his attempt to catch that foul ball? The book focuses on our human foibles that cause us to make bad decisions, the inherent difficulty in separating good (bad) results from good (bad) decision making (and sets forth how you can), and how to make more effective and better decisions. Yes, it stands on the shoulders of giants, drawing from many writers in psychology and science (including Daniel Kahneman, Richard Feynman, Nassim Taleb, B.F. Skinner, among a host of others), but I enjoyed the way the book weaves its tapestry of how to think probabilistically. I see how the principles that are presented in the book can be applied in much of my daily life, from those facing me as a father of two teenagers to better considering possible outcomes when making investment decisions. The book is worth more than its price.
29 people found this helpful
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David J. Aldous
4.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Amiable overview of thinking in terms of probabilities
Reviewed in the United States on May 23, 2018
As the author writes, this is not about literal bets, but about thinking of outcomes in terms of probabilities of what might happen, rather than an "all or nothing" Yes/No expectation. The book is easy to read, combining accounts of academic research with stories... See more
As the author writes, this is not about literal bets, but about thinking of outcomes in terms of probabilities of what might happen, rather than an "all or nothing" Yes/No expectation. The book is easy to read, combining accounts of academic research with stories from the author''s own experience and the wider world. Typical topics:

(1) In thinking about our past decisions, we tend to focus on the outcomes (good or bad) rather than on our decision process --- was our decision the "percentage play" choice? And we claim credit for success but blame failure on bad luck.

(2) What psychology research tells us about various aspects of predictable irrationality, such as "the stubbornness of belief" even in the face of contrary evidence.

(3) Scenario planning; thinking more about long-term effects than short-term ones.

(4) Most interesting (to me) were chapters on the benefits of group interaction and the CUDOS structure for group discussions -- disinterestedness and organized skepticism etc.

The book provides an amiable overview of this subject with useful references to academic literature. The announced 288 pages is in fact 231 pages of main content, with comparatively few words per page, so it''s actually quite a short book. And the style -- general ideas and specific memorable stories -- somehow lacks the sharp relevance to everyday life that one might hope for, which is why I gave 4 stars instead of 5. Each of the topics is covered in more depth in other non-technical books, for instance Superforecasting: The Art and Science of Prediction or Thinking, Fast and Slow or The Poker Face of Wall Street or The Success Equation: Untangling Skill and Luck in Business, Sports, and Investing .
17 people found this helpful
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Sam Lawhon
3.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Helpful but far too long
Reviewed in the United States on December 30, 2019
While there were certainly some helpful nuggets in this book, it was far too long. I understand repeating an illustration to make a point but repeating it 3-4-5 times is just annoying. The key takeaway is this: Instead of assigning 0 or 100% chance to probable... See more
While there were certainly some helpful nuggets in this book, it was far too long. I understand repeating an illustration to make a point but repeating it 3-4-5 times is just annoying.
The key takeaway is this: Instead of assigning 0 or 100% chance to probable outcomes, work through problems assigning different scenarios and probable outcomes for each

A more detailed synopsis:
-Thinking in bets helps avoid common "decision traps"
-Equating the quality of a decision with the quality of an outcome is common but incorrect. Instead, it is better to evaluate the decision on the available evidence and probability of the desired outcome
-When we work backward from decisions we are very susceptible to link our outcomes with our decisions. We do this by cherry-picking data or mistaking causation for correlation
-It is crucial to separate luck from good decisions. It is entirely possible to have had made all of the right decisions and had bad luck, or the other way around. The key is to figure out what is attributable to chance and what is attributable to competence
-"What makes a decision great is not that is 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" pg 27
-Most people don''t actually think through their beliefs. They hear it from a source they hold in high esteem and maintain that belief. Believing is very easy and we are wired to believe, no doubt
-Our beliefs inform how we view the world, then how we act, and how we plan for the future
-It is better to think less about whether we are confident in something and more about how confident we are
-Having a close circle that you can talk to, debate with, and think through difficult things is very important to growth. We are very vulnerable to peer approval, therefore using that desire for approval within your circle becomes a powerful agent for change
-Because our beliefs are based on past experiences and inputs, it is wise to be purposeful about the inputs and experiences that we have going forward as that will guide our future selves
-Make decisions when you are emotionally stable "decision fit" as Annie puts it
-Set up barriers to avoid negative decisions "Decision interrupting"
-Imagine your future self, take the best and worst-case scenarios you can imagine, then work backward to establish a plan for going forward
7 people found this helpful
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Nathik
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Reading this book has been a good bet
Reviewed in India on September 3, 2018
Thinking in Bets’ by Annie Duke is probably the best book on decision making that I have read. The Basic idea of the book is that thinking in bets will substantially improve the decision-making skills in our day-to-day life. Annie Duke is a professional poker player and...See more
Thinking in Bets’ by Annie Duke is probably the best book on decision making that I have read. The Basic idea of the book is that thinking in bets will substantially improve the decision-making skills in our day-to-day life. Annie Duke is a professional poker player and according to her life imitates poker, not chess. Poker is a decision making game under uncertainty over time. It has valuable information hidden, there is element of luck in any outcome. The decision we make in our lives- raising kids, health, business- have uncertainty, hidden information & luck. What a bet really is? A bet a decision about an uncertain future. Thinking in bets starts with recognizing that there are exactly two things that determine how our lives turn out: the quality of our decisions luck. Learning to recognize the difference between the two is what thinking in bets is all about. What’s your best and worst decision? Take a moment to imagine your best decision in the last year. Now take a moment to imagine your worst decision. Chances are you will equate the outcome of the decision to the quality of the decision. This is because we’re susceptible to “resulting” and hindsight bias. We must disassociate outcome with decision. A great decision is the result of a good process and that process must represent an accurate picture of our state of knowledge. Resulting: tendency to equate the quality of a decision with the quality of its outcome Hindsight bias: tendency, after an outcome is known, to see the outcome as having been inevitable. When we work backward from results to figure out why those things happened, we are susceptible to a variety of cognitive traps, like assuming causation when there is only a correlation, or cherry- picking data to confirm the narrative we prefer. We will pound a lot of square pegs into round holes to maintain the illusion of a tight relationship between our outcomes and our decisions. Two Brains: We’re susceptible to these mental traps because our brains are not built for rationality. Our brains work basically in two modes. Daniel Kahneman popularized the labels of “System 1” and “System 2”. System 1: encompasses reflex, instinct, intuition, impulse and automatic processing. System 2: is how we choose, concentrate and expend mental energy. Both systems are necessary for survival. Mistakes happen when System 1 overtakes System 2 in decision-making. Since most of what we do daily exists in automatic processing. We are used to thinking in System 1 mode. The challenge is to figure out how to make decisions within the limitations we already have. Embrace uncertainty and Redefine wrong: Embracing “I’m not sure” is difficult. We are trained in school that saying “I don’t know” is a bad thing. Not knowing in school is considered a failure of learning. Of course, we want to encourage acquiring knowledge, but the first step is understanding what we don’t know. “I don’t know” is not a failure but a necessary step toward enlightenment. There are many reasons why wrapping our arms around uncertainty and giving it a big hug will help us become better decision- makers. Here are two of them. First, “I’m not sure” is simply a more accurate representation of the world. Second, and related, when we accept that we can’t be sure, we are less likely to fall into the trap of black- and- white thinking. Decisions are bets on the future, and they aren’t “right” or “wrong” based on whether they turn out well on any particular iteration. An unwanted result doesn’t make our decision wrong if we thought about the alternatives and probabilities in advance and allocated our resources. Redefining wrong allows us to let go of all the anguish that comes from getting a bad result. First, the world is a pretty random place. The influence of luck makes it impossible to predict exactly how things will turn out, and all the hidden information makes it even worse. Second, being wrong hurts us more than being right feels good. All decisions are bets: All our decisions are always bets. We routinely decide among alternatives, put resources at risk, assess the likelihood of different outcomes, and consider what it is that we value. The betting elements of decisions— choice, probability, risk, etc.— are more obvious in some situations than others. Investments are clearly bets. A decision about a stock (buy, don’t buy, sell, hold, not to mention esoteric investment options) involves a choice about the best use of financial resources. Incomplete information and factors outside of our control make all our investment choices uncertain Most bets are bets against ourselves: In most of our decisions, we are not betting against another person. Rather, we are betting against all the future versions of ourselves that we are not choosing. Whenever we make a choice, we are betting on a potential future. Our bets are only as good as our beliefs: Our bets are only as good as our beliefs. our default setting is to believe what we hear is true. We might think of ourselves as open- minded and capable of updating our beliefs based on new information, but the research conclusively shows otherwise. Instead of altering our beliefs to fit new information, we do the opposite, altering our interpretation of that information to fit our beliefs. Our pre- existing beliefs influence the way we experience the world. This irrational, circular information- processing pattern is called motivated reasoning. The way we process new information is driven by the beliefs we hold, strengthening them. Those strengthened beliefs then drive how we process further information, and so on. Being smart makes it worse: Being smart makes it worse the smarter you are, the better you are at constructing a narrative that supports your beliefs, rationalizing and framing the data to fit your argument or point of view. we all have a blind spot about recognizing our biases. The surprise is that blind- spot bias is greater the smarter you are. Wanna bet? Offering a wager is the best way to fight these mental traps and brings the risk out in the open, making explicit what is already implicit. We can train ourselves to view the world through the lens of “Wanna bet?” Once we start doing that, we are more likely to recognize that there is always a degree of uncertainty, that we are generally less sure than we thought we were, that practically nothing is black and white, 0% or 100%. We don’t need someone challenging us to an actual bet to do this. We can think like a bettor, purposefully and on our own, like it’s a game even if we’re just doing it ourselves. Instead of thinking of confidence as all- or- nothing (“ I’m confident” or “I’m not confident”), our expression of our confidence would then capture all the shades of grey in between. Incorporating uncertainty into the way we think about our beliefs comes with many benefits. Use CUDOS: CUDOS stands for Communism (data belong to the group) Universalism (apply uniform standards to claims and evidence, regardless of where they came from) Disinterestedness (vigilance against potential conflicts that can influence the group’s evaluation) Organized Skepticism (discussion among the group to encourage engagement and dissent) Techniques to become a better bets: Techniques like Suzy Welch’s 10-10-10, temporal discounting problem, pre-commitment, pre-mortem can help us make better bets on our futures. Our irrational, impulsive & instant gratification tendency are because we favor our present-self at the expense of our future-self. This is called “temporal discounting”. Thinking about the future and recognizing when we commit temporal discounting and helps us maintain the right frame of mind. Suzy Welch’s 10-10-10 has the effect of bringing the future-us into more of our in the moment decisions. Before taking a bet/decisions visualize how it will affect us in the next 10 minutes, 10 months and 10 years. Tilt is a poker term when a player is not in a mental or emotional state to choose optimal strategy. whenever you feel you are experiencing “tilt”, pre-commit to walk away from the situation. Backcasting is a useful time-travel exercise where we imagine a successful future and identify necessary steps for reaching our goals. Working backward helps even more when we give ourselves the freedom to imagine an unfavorable future. It also makes it possible to identify when there are low-probability events that must occur to reach the goal Premortems: working backward from a negative future. It’s an investigation into something awful, but before it happens. Asking “Okay, we failed. Why did we fail?” frees everyone to identify potential points of failure without the for fear of being viewed as a naysayer. Despite the popular wisdom that we achieve success through positive visualization, it turns out that incorporating negative visualization makes us more likely to achieve our goals. We are going to do better, and be happier, if we start by recognizing that we’ll never be sure of the future. Final thoughts: Although the book becomes repetitive places, this is easily one of the best books have read on decision making and cognitive psycology. If you are planning to read only one book for the year, I recommend you pick this up. In case if you are looking for super-short and concise book summary of the same, you can check out my twitter thread.
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Hande Z
2.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Heads she wins, tails you lose
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on April 11, 2019
This book probably deserves one star but I give it two because it is not entirely gibberish. In fact it is quite entertaining, and has some interesting points on the making of bets. The better books on the area of decision-making - if that is what you, like me, want - are...See more
This book probably deserves one star but I give it two because it is not entirely gibberish. In fact it is quite entertaining, and has some interesting points on the making of bets. The better books on the area of decision-making - if that is what you, like me, want - are Daniel Kahneman''s ''Thinking, Fast and Slow'', and Leonard Mlodinow''s The Drunkard''s Walk''. Thinking in bets, as a book on betting, is probably for people who have been losing badly in casinos, in which case, this book won''t help much either. Hence, if you are stuck with no much choice and wish to spend an afternoon reading on light reading, this book is a candidate.
15 people found this helpful
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Peter - Denmark
3.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
It is worthwhile - it gets better after 100 pages.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on March 3, 2020
I was in doubt whether this is a 3 or 4 star book. Duke writes well and tells many anecdotes - making her points more memorable. Some of the points are somewhat trivial - and is covered in by greater works by Daniel Kahneman (Thinking fast and slow) and Nassim Taleb (Fooled...See more
I was in doubt whether this is a 3 or 4 star book. Duke writes well and tells many anecdotes - making her points more memorable. Some of the points are somewhat trivial - and is covered in by greater works by Daniel Kahneman (Thinking fast and slow) and Nassim Taleb (Fooled by randomness). Duke prefers to use the term of "luck" over "randomness" - although it does feels like, quite a bit of inspiration comes from Taleb. I like the book, although, especially the first 100 pages are rather repetitive, re. the simple message of recognizing randomness (luck) from skill when evaluating the outcome of a decision. I recommend you to hang in there and finish the book - the last 50-80 pages are quite good. The list of recommended readings is quite useful. I settled on the 3 stars due to the points being made in a repetitive manner - but it is close to a 4. I might read more from Duke. There are some real world (mine is in investing) lessons that are useful to keep in mind.
4 people found this helpful
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Gumshoe
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
How to make smart decisions
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on January 16, 2019
To guess is to gamble. Applying some methodology to decision-making reduces, if not eliminates, guesswork thus making any decision less of a gamble. Thinking in Bets describes that sort of methodology quite comprehensively. For example, considering negative predictions,...See more
To guess is to gamble. Applying some methodology to decision-making reduces, if not eliminates, guesswork thus making any decision less of a gamble. Thinking in Bets describes that sort of methodology quite comprehensively. For example, considering negative predictions, besides positive ones, can insert some scepticism into a decision so rendering it more realistic. A smart decision involves knowing all the pros and cons of each option, which is where history comes in, then weighing up those pros and cons. A few hands, of poker, come to mind where if I had done exactly that I would have folded a cooler. Annie Duke describes how to manage the decision-learning process. Not all negative outcomes are down to flawed decisions. Random factors will also influence the outcome. Outcome quality is different from decision quality. Thinking in Bets is useful because it helps you to identify the flawed assumptions in your decision making.
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@Timothy_Hughes
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Did you know that great decisions can create bad outcomes?
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on April 12, 2021
Annie Duke, the author of “thinking in bets” is a former World Series of Poker champion, turned business consultant. In the book, Annie discusses the importance of the different types of decisions. Good decisions can generate, bad outcomes and bad decisions can generate...See more
Annie Duke, the author of “thinking in bets” is a former World Series of Poker champion, turned business consultant. In the book, Annie discusses the importance of the different types of decisions. Good decisions can generate, bad outcomes and bad decisions can generate great outcomes. This is something she has learned from playing poker. She also discusses the difference between “skill” and “luck”, often in life if we had a good outcome we put that down to skill and a bad outcome, we put down to bad luck. Surely everything is about skill? Annie discusses that if you say to people “will you take a bet on that?” people will start unpacking their belief systems and the knowledge we have which we assume to be true. Once pushed, to put our money where our belief systems are will we really do it? Finally she discusses the need to have an open mind in life and a lifelong learner. I certainly enjoyed the book and it’s worth adding to the reading list.
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