Right decision, Bad Outcome

car accident

Driving down a highway last Summer, my car hood of popped open, smashing into the windshield and nearly ripping off its hinges. Luckily, no other cars were around and I was able to safely decelerate into the breakdown lane. Other than being shook-up, I was fine.

According to the auto body mechanic, the hood latch and its safety catch had a catastrophic failure. In his opinion, it wasn’t the fault of the oil change people who opened the hood the week before. The 2001 Chevy Prism was showing its age.

The other news the auto body mechanic gave me: the bill for repairs to the hood, fenders, latch, and windshield was going to be $2100.

Two months before the accident, trying to save money insuring a car that was more than a decade old and long since paid off, I stopped carrying comprehensive insurance. That sliced my car insurance bill in half, but also meant I’d be paying for this accident entirely out of pocket.

That sucked.

But I didn’t kick myself over the decision to reduce the insurance coverage. It was the right decision, given the circumstances and the information I had. Right decision, bad outcome.

Many lessons in poker play are also useful in life. Since I started playing poker, being aware of “results-oriented thinking” has helped immensely in my everyday life. The stress of worrying about bad things happening is reduced because I’m focused on making good decisions.

Results-oriented thinking is when you stop using logical analysis for decision making — information, deduction — and make decisions based simply on possible outcomes.

In poker, for example, holding AK suited and investing half your stack in a pot, only to fold to a weak bet on the river, is probably results oriented play. Or folding your button to a raise while holding a medium pair and a small stack, is probably results oriented thinking.

If we’re getting smarter — using stronger logic and better information — over time our decisions are going to be better. Correct decisions don’t always work out, but when they don’t it still feels great to know you’ve done your best and aren’t living scared worrying about bad outcomes.