Despite having been largely absent from the poker world since 2011, Annie Duke is still called on by mainstream publications to discuss poker. Such was the case when Wired Magazine asked Duke about her opinion on Donald Trump’s political strategy from a poker player’s perspective.
Specifically, Wired wants to know if the aggressive strategy that Trump used to power his way to the Republican nomination is starting to backfire. Duke thinks that Hillary Clinton and House Speaker Paul Ryan, who’s struggling to endorse his party’s nominee, are catching on to Trump’s strategy and he hasn’t properly calibrated.
“In tournament poker you’ll see people that do really well for six months to a year and then disappear,” says Duke. “In general, those people do the exact same thing–they break convention by having this naked aggression where they’re moving all their chips without normal rhyme or reason.”
In the Republican nomination race, Duke points out that Trump’s rivals either avoided his aggression, or tried in vain to counteract it, like Marco Rubio. Wired and Duke combined to offer a better solution:
Over time, though, players figure out a more sophisticated approach–to lie in wait until they have a great hand, then lure the aggressor into betting into them. Purposefully or not, that’s how things played out with the Khan family, who represented a bet that Trump couldn’t help but raise, despite the fact that he was clearly holding bad cards against them. “You have to figure out just the right way to punish the aggression,” Duke says.
As for Ryan, Duke points out that he’s waiting too long to either make a full-hearted endorsement of Trump, or completely pull his support. Ryan is currently playing a middle-road strategy that doesn’t work in his long-term political favor. Duke says that Ryan needs to make an early move, even with a weaker hand, because it’s the best strategy in this case.
“Let’s say I wait until I’m 60 percent sure I have the best hand before I bet, but I allow the chips to get so small I have to do it twice,” she says. “The chances that I’ll double up are only 36 percent. But if I’m willing to be a 45 percent favorite I’m better off.”
Duke may have been out of the game for a while, but she did a good job of relating the Presidential situation to poker. No wonder she’s been making a career out doing public speaking engagements that involve poker. Here are videos of Duke in action: