It’s a game of statistics.

Last night on Radiolab I heard Annie Duke say you couldn’t rely on tells. Because some people were too inexperienced to know whether they had a good hand or a bad one. Your only hope was to do the math.

I don’t play cards. But it’s been the rage for in excess of a decade. I thought it was a game of personalities, of bluffs, of mano a mano combat.

No, it’s a game of the smart against the dumb. The informed against the ignorant. All the best players reveal no physical reaction. You’ve got to know the math.

I get it, I get it. You can put up a YouTube clip and become famous!

But very few succeed and do you end up rich?

Not usually. Or not for long.

We’re undergoing a revolution in America. And it’s all based on intelligence. And if you’re uneducated, if you don’t understand the game, you’re going to be left behind. It’s like America’s a giant train, and the cars in front have uncoupled from those in the rear and are zooming down the track at light speed while those left behind aren’t even moving or are going down blind alleys. Everything your parents told you was true. You’ve got to apply yourself, you’ve got to do well in school, or you’re going to get left behind. Hell, it’s much worse than it was in the sixties and seventies, you can’t survive on minimum wage. You might be able to get a job at McDonald’s, but you can’t pay your bills.

Turns out there are charts. Of odds. Of probabilities. Turns out 20% is usually enough to go all-in. So what on the surface appears to be a bad bet is actually a safe one.

Annie makes a good point. It’s not about winning every time, it’s about winning enough of the time, breaking even.

Record labels and artists are clueless when it comes to this. So busy trying to ensure success, labels load up writers and producers on a track in order to make sure they’ve got a hit. Whereas they’d be better off letting the artists go free, have them take multiple chances. They don’t have to hit every time, but enough of the time!

You’re not gonna take a risk if you’ve only got one chance.

And you know if your left field track is any good, radio is gonna play it. That’s their business, playing hits. And in a world where it can take the better part of a year for a cut to bubble up, the winners float and the losers sink.

In other words, data is gonna revolutionize the music business.

Only there’s not enough money in it now.

And nobody in entertainment likes the truth. They’d rather operate on smoke and mirrors.

So listen to this Radiolab podcast. Maybe you’re a poker player and know everything. But I bet most are not and will be fascinated.

Meanwhile, Ms. Duke went to Columbia undergrad and then Penn for grad school. And you don’t have to attend these blue chips in order to make it. But you too have to do the work, you too have to have the insight and smarts. Or else you end up in the underclass, fighting over the scraps.

“Dealing With Doubt”

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