VC/Unpacked #8: Poker Is Life

This series curates great content that folks interested in entrepreneurism and venture capital should explore. Some are from my own must list; others have been suggested by our community. Have a recommendation? Tell us about it.

Hi AVG Community,

At its core, venture capital investing is about decision-making. So is life…and so is poker.

Underlying decision making is human biology (the hardware), brain science (the reprogrammable operating system), heuristics and experiences (the programs and data). Poker is an exceptional distillation of these concepts, and a ton can be learned from the game (and the best players)-things that can be applied to business and life.

Anyone interested in becoming a better decision-maker (if VC is your chosen profession, constantly improving your decision-making should be a goal) will benefit from these content recommendations

Venture on,

- Mike Collins

The Biggest Bluff: How I Learned to Pay Attention, Master Myself, and Win
By Maria Konnikova

As a psychologist (PhD), Maria Konnikova brings another level of understanding to poker. She explores luck and skill-how to think about them as well as how to deal with uncertainty and issues of control. She also shares her journey to pay attention, think objectively, and make better decisions. As Konnikova says, ‘This book isn’t about how to play poker. It’s about how to play the world.’


Thinking in Bets + How To Decide

By Annie Duke

Annie Duke, a former World Series of Poker champion who’s now a business consultant, will teach you how to make better decisions in the midst of uncertainty. Professional poker players are comfortable with ambiguity. They know great decisions don’t always lead to great outcomes, and bad decisions don’t always lead to bad outcomes. Poker can teach you that by changing your mindset to accepting uncertainty, you’ll avoid reactive emotions, knee-jerk biases, and destructive habits-guiding you to making good decisions.



Thinking Poker

Hosted by Andrew Brokos & Nate Meyvis

Professional poker player Andrew Brokos and World Series of Poker veteran Nate Meyvis host this popular podcast that blends game strategy, entertainment, philosophy, and a lot of fascinating life stories. Recent episodes have explored both the erudite (game theory of political violence and the culture of poker) and nuts-and-bolts coaching (fold equity, range construction, even cheating). The range of guests is just as wide-from novelists to political scientists, athletes, historians, and yes, dedicated poker players-and makes my point about poker’s wide appeal and applications.


Alumni Ventures Group provides smart, simple venture portfolios with community to accredited individuals. PitchBook listed AVG as the most active VC firm in the U.S. during Q3 2020.

Originally published at on January 22, 2021.



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