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Peter Lynch, renowned former manager at Fidelity, once said that a good way to become a better investor was to “learn how to play poker”.

We agree. Indeed poker is such an interesting teacher of decision-making skill that we’ve invited Dr Maria Konnikova, New Yorker science writer, author and rising professional poker player, to speak at this year’s Behavioral Alpha conference.

David Slansky


Professional poker player and author of numerous books on gambling, including The Theory of Poker: A Professional Poker Player Teaches You How To Think Like One. Below is his “Fundamental Theorem of Investing”:

“Before making any investment … you must be able to explain why the other party is willing to take the other side of the deal… if you cannot come up with a good explanation, your buy, sell or bet is almost certainly not as good as you think.”

Annie Duke


Annie Duke holds a World Series of Poker gold bracelet from 2004. She retired from the professional game in 2012 and now works as a coach, author and speaker.

“It was the game theorist John von Neumann who first made the distinction that chess is a form of computation, not a game. That’s because, in chess, there is always a right way forward at any point.

Poker and, for that matter, investing, are different as they are each characterized by incomplete information and a significant element of luck. What’s more, valuable information is often hidden from the participants – something that’s not so much the case for chess where each player can see where the other’s pieces are.

As a result, in both poker and investing, you can make the best possible decision at every turn – given what you know – but still lose the hand or the trade because of luck or information you didn’t have access to.”

Source: Annie Duke interview with Essentia CEO, Clare Flynn Levy: Why investing is like poker (but not chess)

Michael J. Mauboussin