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We are taught that learning occurs when there is lots of feedback tied closely in time to decisions and actions. Then why do so many poker players stall in their learning when poker creates a fast and closed feedback loop – hundreds of decisions per hour all with immediate consequences attached. What poker teaches us that more is not necessarily better. A small sample size is certainly problematic for drawing conclusions from data. Paradoxically, too much evidence coming at us too quickly creates a different set of problems. The swarm of data amplifies the human tendency to assess evidence in a path dependent manner. Poker teaches us that even when we get a lot of feedback quickly, we still field each outcome on its own, swatting away the most painful parts of the message that data is sending us. Top players make use of pre-commitment strategies and accountability to a constructive decision group to help turn evidence into expertise.
Annie Duke is an experienced corporate speaker and consultant on the behavior of decision making. As a former professional poker player, she won more than $4 million in tournament poker. She has won a World Series of Poker bracelet, the World Series of Poker Tournament of Champions, and the NBC National Poker Heads-Up Championship. She has written four books (with a fifth on the way, about learning and decision making), raised four children, raised $18 million for charities, and navigated on-screen dramas with Donald Trump and Joan Rivers while setting fundraising records on Celebrity Apprentice. Annie is a cofounder of HowIDecide.org and a member of the National Board of After-School All-Stars. She recently joined the board of directors of the Franklin Institute, one of America’s oldest and greatest museums, an honor and responsibility her four-year-old self would have loved but never imagined possible. She has also won a televised championship in rock-paper-scissors.