Annie Duke, winner of the 2004 World Series of Poker Tournament of Champions, will speak at 4 p.m. Thursday at the Overby Center. As part of the 2019 Oxford Conference of the Book, Duke will discuss her new book “Thinking in Bets: Making Smarter Decisions When You Don’t Have All the Facts.”
Her book, published in February 2018, details Duke’s methods of behavioral science and decision-making.
Neil Manson, a philosophy professor at Ole Miss, suggested inviting Duke to this year’s conference after he was invited to participate in a panel on cognitive psychology. Manson said that getting in touch with Duke was a no-brainer.
“I also knew her to be incredibly smart, successful and charismatic. She also has a very strong research background in cognitive psychology from before she started playing poker professionally,” Manson said. “Overall, she’s a very intriguing person.”
Manson also added that he encourages all to attend Duke’s presentation and Q&A. The first two rows will be reserved for students, and he said that Duke will provide beneficial insight that students can use during their college careers.
“One of the most important things you can learn in college is how to make decisions,” Manson said. “Economics, psychology, ethics, business, logic — all these courses are teaching you different ways to make decisions. That’s what her book is all about. Her key lesson is to stop ‘resulting’ — stop judging decisions just by their results.”
Duke, who has also been a contestant on NBC’s “Celebrity Apprentice,” told GQ that, in her book, she discusses the concept of being afraid of uncertainty. To Duke, there’s no need to fear the unknown.
“The more you can get comfortable with uncertainty, the better off you are,” Duke said. “It’s a more accurate representation of the world. You’re able to be calmer and more compassionate toward other people and towards yourself. Things aren’t always going to work out. You can make the best decision in the world, and it can go awry. You can make the worst decision ever, and it can go just fine.”
James Thomas, director for this year’s Oxford Conference of the Book and the associate director for publications for the Center for the Study of Southern Culture, said that opportunities like hearing this week’s speakers give students something that goes beyond the classroom.
“These opportunities are a big part of what college is all about, I think,” Thomas said. “It’s not always about completing assignments for a grade. It’s about having a sense of wonder and cultivating a desire for knowledge. To me, that’s a significant way college prepares us for the future and expands our understanding of the world.”