What’s really the game?

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In 2009, Annie Duke finished second behind Joan Rivers on Celebrity Apprentice. This was surprising, said Tyler Cowen, “I would pick you.” On the show Duke was better. She raised more money and won more challenges. In those areas, Duke won. But that’s not really the game of Celebrity Apprentice.

Penn Jillette explained explained that there are two games on one show:

“On reality TV competition shows, there are always at least two competitions going on. There’s the competition that’s the make-believe of the show, and there’s the real completion that happens outside the TV show. Winning the make-believe completion does help with winning the real competition, but they’re not the same.”

Duke too was aware. She told her friends and family there was no way she would win. The rules were simple: Donald Trump chooses a winner. That’s the game of the make-believe show. However, there’s also the second game which Duke won and continues to win as she joins podcast like Cowen Convos.

There’s a joke my kids love. It goes like this: You walk into a barbershop and there are two barbers. One is well heeled and has a fantastic haircut. The other is unkempt. Whose chair do you sit at for your follicle fix?

Who do you pick?

There are multiple games at multiple levels. Mostly it’s the game of Show and the game of Go. Some succeed at both games. Warren Buffett comes to mind, and proves it goes deeper because Buffett’s Show game is a certain type.

In games with tight feedback (pool construction), the game of Go is more important. In games with loose feedback, the game of Show rises in esteem. 

Most of life is complex and we must play both games. Annie Duke might not have written books, joined podcasts, and shared what she learned without playing the game of Celebrity Apprentice. Jillette noted how the reality-TV game helped with the put-asses-in-seats-at-P&T-theater game. The games feed back on each other. We all play games, how much Show and how much Go? 

Tracking Tom Update: Well, he did it. Tom Brady passed for 4,633 yards this year, 377 more than the betting line. We’ll conduct a post-mortem in the future.

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