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Risk

Risk is at the heart of poker. You might win it all. You might lose it all. But nobody succeeds without taking it. When it comes to…By Kevin Berger

Risk is at the heart of poker. You might win it all. You might lose it all. But nobody succeeds without taking it. When it comes to risking everything at the table, or in life, writes Maria Konnikova, interviewed this week about her new life in poker, “There are no rules, at the end of the day, save some internal calculus that only you are privy to.”

The trick is to understand that internal calculus. Analyze and understand it to the point where the cliff from which you’re jumping feels safe. That’s what mathematician and epidemiologist Adam Kucharski, whose new book is called Rules of Contagion, is doing just now with the COVID pandemic—mapping its transmission to arrive at better strategies to treat it, to lessen the risks of living with the toughest outbreak, Kucharski says, he has ever seen.

Interviews with the card player and the mathematician are complemented by an eye-opening essay by David Krakauer and Geoffrey West of the Santa Fe Institute. What’s missing from solutions to the pandemic, they write, is a picture of its complexity, its interrelation with, and reflection of, natural and social forces. And finally we revisit what writer Bob Henderson learned about himself and his career when he took one of the biggest risks of his life and lost.


Lead image: PHOTOCREO Michal Bednarek / Shutterstock

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