Your daily games of chance

by Randy Gingeleski

3 minutes to read

'Thinking in bets' without Annie Duke's oft-recommended book that I've never read.

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In high school there was a class where groups of us needed to publicly debate a given topic against each other.

This was the height of my casino management ambition, and really was no secret amongst my peers, so my group took the opposing side of the following prompt.

Casinos and legalized gambling are a net negative on society.

My piece went along the lines of telling everyone they had gambled that very morning on the way to school (!!). That riding a bus or in a car was itself quite risky, and constantly we gamble via decision-making without realizing it.

Visualizing chances of fatality traveling via car versus other vehicles

Casino gambling by extension was just a more recognizable form of something we do constantly — perhaps more honest, even. With money it’s out in the open and you’re all but forced to care.

Like a decade later, do I still believe in that? Not really.

Watching my birthplace of upstate New York change has influenced my opinion. The Oneida nation’s Yellow Brick Road and Pointe Place gambling parlors have noticeably concentrated certain people within their host communities that might not have otherwise entered or been parted with their money.

I’ll refrain from writing “undesirable people” or anything overt and scandalous. 🤐

This post isn’t about that though. Not about casinos or society. Let us go back to the “we all gamble every day” topic. I still believe in that.

Montage of chance scenarios including lottery tickets and lightning strikes

This morning I stumbled across — a tool intended to help assess risk around various activities and factors. Despite being sick of hearing about anything “COVID”, “pandemic”, etcetera it’s still a neat premise.

And recall I was tired of discussing any of that a year ago in my guide to uncertain times, even. Psychological payload after payload. 😴

Perhaps instinctively, my decision-making has been “in bets” for quite a while. Look at my navigation of the corporate world. Other people need to read Annie Duke’s Thinking in Bets as a primer.

Cover of Thinking in Bets book by Annie Duke
I never have but a lot of admirable people recommend the book. Your mileage may vary?

For example, you might estimate your risk level in traveling between two short points via small prop plane or rotorcraft. This is something I do quite often, as a flight school student.

Based off the untimely deaths of Kobe Bryant and Olivier Dassault, we might infer the helicopter journey is riskier. We don’t have precise numbers on hand but assume those dice are less favorable to our health than the alternatives.

That’s just one bet that may play out over the course of a day. “Throwing the dice.”

Plane, helicopter, and crash test dummy montage

This is very interesting because it attempts to break down individual variables like mask usage and even type.

Mask comparison with odds, screenshot from tool

Everybody has different personal situations, including levels of risk they opt for and/or find tolerable.

Some people lead riskier lives than others. Consider James Bond versus an elderly person shut-in at home.

Screenshot from 007 Die Another Day (2002) movie
The former isn’t just ‘cool’ for living luxuriously, but also dangerously. Sometimes his style is cramped by North Korean torture camps, etc. etc. High risk for high reward.

There are way too many factors in all of our daily “bets” to track them all the time, or use a tool like on everything.

Granted, you might say insurance companies and actuarial science do attempt to model as much as they can.

The point of “thinking in bets” for me is to gain a strategic edge in certain situations, with an eye towards getting enjoyment out of life. You have work and then you have leisure too.

Don’t turn the whole world into numbers by distilling it to “bets” all the time. Just have some awareness, with my promise it’s to your long-term benefit.

This single tool may be the introduction some people need to “get it”. Others already grasp the concept.

Or check out that book above. 📚🎲