Jeffrey Ma’s DevLearn Keynote

Emerging market for a card counter – opening of a casino
3 types of people at the opening of any casino – celebrities, card counters, hookers
Opening night of Bellagio, playing blackjack with Kevin Costner
When he started losing his friends said “this is like Water World all over again”
His defining moment: 21 and making objective decisions at the casino
Had $50K on the table with 19-19-19; dealer hit 21 lost the money
Decisions can’t be influenced by emotion
Omission bias we would rather have something harm us from inactivity
Following the correct objective strategy means fighting this bias
His mom had a bad stroke and the treatment was to do nothing with a 22% survival rate past 60 days
Decided on aggressive approach that worked
The fallacy of “gut feeling” – your stomach doesn’t have brain cells that makes decisions
Use the data
Separate the decision from the outcome – his friends ask him what to do; if he tells them to hit and they get it wrong, they blame him
If there’s a lot of high cards left in the deck it’s in the player’s favor
Bet more when the odds are in your favor, less when not
The most important thing in building your team is that you trust them
Give people small steps using game mechanics to increase motivation
Nobody wanted to be the “donkey boy” guy carrying chips and cash, wanted to move to the next level
Communicate – using codewords in the casino to find the best table
Metrics – measured everything, wrote down every situation to understand their own performance
Transparency – So everyone knew how everyone else was doing
Competition within in an organization; aligned incentives, when you win everyone in the team wins
Had trouble splitting 10s (something you shouldn’t do) despite the mathematical evidence to the contrary; people all around thought he was an idiot
You have to make the tough decision; do follow the groupthink just to please people who don’t have the same information
Loss aversion – we’re impacted by a loss more than a gain by the same amount
It causes us to make bad decisions
Invested in Apple at $60, his partners decided to sell at $120 despite the fact that they thought Apple was still a good buy
Invest long term
Facebook took the same risks at 30mill users as they did when they had 500mil
What if athletes didn’t know their stats?
Barry Bonds obsessed with chasing the HR record, Michael Jordan obsessed with championships
What if employees know their stats? Even microstats?
His company, show people to be 10x better by showing people their data
After his biggest loss $100K in 3 minutes, decided not to continue inaction
Why would he let 2 hands change his belief? He made the right decision but had a poor outcome.
Went back to playing and won all his money back and made $70K
We need to stick with systems we believe in even when things are hard


Posted on November 1, 2012, in Life and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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