Annie Duke joins board of nonprofit group

Annie Duke

The Palo Alto nonprofit group Decision Education Foundation is betting that professional poker player Annie Duke will be a great addition to its board of directors.

The Decision Education Foundation is an organization focused on helping children make better life decisions. On Saturday the group hosted an "Evening with Annie Duke" to welcome her to the organization, and she talked about "Good Decision Making and Other Lessons Learned from Poker."

"Poker is this incredible game of skill that really is the ultimate decision-making problem," Duke said Monday in the San Jose Mercury News.

The Decision Education Foundation's approach to making good choices is based on decades of experience in academia and industry. It describes both how to judge the quality of a decision as it is made and how to make a good decision.

Duke plans to work with the foundation's current programs in schools, both locally and internationally, to help the Decision Education Foundation incorporate lessons from poker into their curricula.

On Saturday, Duke discussed her life as a winning poker player and how she uses decision-making skills both in her profession and in her personal life.

"Lots of people frame (poker) as a math or a probability problem," Duke said in the Mercury News. "But I really do frame it as a decision-making problem... I talk about different alternatives."

With a passion for quality education and a deep understanding of how good decisions help gain a competitive edge, Duke is eager to work with the Decision Education Foundation as it continues to expand and attract additional school partners.

"How we make decisions shapes the quality of our lives," Duke said. "I know that if I didn't understand what makes a good decision, I wouldn't be a success at what I do. And for kids, who are making decisions that will significantly impact their safety, their health and their future, it is a critical skill - and a huge gap in their education."

Duke said she hopes to move students away from emotional decision making to a more logical consideration of their options.

Taking an example from her profession, she said poker players often operate under a typical bias known as "sunk cost." She says players are more likely to continue with bad hands and make a bad call when they're already emotionally invested in the pot.

There is still discussion about whether or not the game of poker will actually be played as part of the Decision Education Foundation's programs, but Tom Keelin, one of the foundation's founders, told the Mercury News Duke's books and articles reflect the foundation's philosophy.

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