Features of The Biggest Bluff By Maria Konnikova PDF
The Biggest Bluff By Maria Konnikova PDF
A New York Times Notable Book
“The tale of how Konnikova followed a story about poker players and wound up becoming a story herself will have you riveted, first as you learn about her big winnings, and then as she conveys the lessons she learned both about human nature and herself.” —The Washington Post
It’s true that Maria Konnikova had never actually played poker before and didn’t even know the rules when she approached Erik Seidel, Poker Hall of Fame inductee and winner of tens of millions of dollars in earnings, and convinced him to be her mentor. But she knew her man: a famously thoughtful and broad-minded player, he was intrigued by her pitch that she wasn’t interested in making money so much as learning about life. She had faced a stretch of personal bad luck, and her reflections on the role of chance had led her to a giant of game theory, who pointed her to poker as the ultimate master class in learning to distinguish between what can be controlled and what can’t. And she certainly brought something to the table, including a Ph.D. in psychology and an acclaimed and growing body of work on human behavior and how to hack it. So Seidel was in, and soon she was down the rabbit hole with him, into the wild, fiercely competitive, overwhelmingly masculine world of high-stakes Texas Hold’em, their initial end point the following year’s World Series of Poker.
But then something extraordinary happened. Under Seidel’s guidance, Konnikova did have many epiphanies about life that derived from her new pursuit, including how to better read, not just her opponents but far more importantly herself; how to identify what tilted her into an emotional state that got in the way of good decisions; and how to get to a place where she could accept luck for what it was, and what it wasn’t. But she also began to win. And win. In a little over a year, she began making earnest money from tournaments, ultimately totaling hundreds of thousands of dollars. She won a major title, got a sponsor, and got used to being on television, and to headlines like “How one writer’s book deal turned her into a professional poker player.” She even learned to like Las Vegas.
But in the end, Maria Konnikova is a writer and student of human behavior, and ultimately the point was to render her incredible journey into a container for its invaluable lessons. The biggest bluff of all, she learned, is that skill is enough. Bad cards will come our way, but keeping our focus on how we play them and not on the outcome will keep us moving through many a dark patch, until the luck once again breaks our way.
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Description of The Biggest Bluff By Maria Konnikova PDF
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Maria Konnikova is the author of Mastermind and The Confidence Game. She is a regular contributing writer for The New Yorker, and has written for The Atlantic, The New York Times, Slate, The New Republic, The Paris Review, The Wall Street Journal, Salon, The Boston Globe, Scientific American, Wired, and Smithsonian, among many other publications. Her writing has won numerous awards, including the 2019 Excellence in Science Journalism Award from the Society of Personality and Social Psychology. While researching The Biggest Bluff, Maria became an international poker champion and the winner of over $300,000 in tournament earnings. Maria also hosts the podcast The Grift from Panoply Media and is currently a visiting fellow at NYU’s School of Journalism. Her podcasting work earned her a National Magazine Award nomination in 2019. Maria graduated from Harvard University and received her PhD in Psychology from Columbia University. This text refers to the paperback edition.
Dimensions and Characteristics of The Biggest Bluff By Maria Konnikova PDF
- Identification Number : B082ZQYGSL
- Publisher : Penguin Books (June 23, 2020)
- Publication date : June 23, 2020
- Language : English
- File size : 1750 KB
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Screen Reader : Supported
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Enabled
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Print length : 368 pages
- Lending : Not Enabled
June 23, 2020
In April, I read somewhere that Maria Konnikova had become a poker pro and won over $200k in prize money. Huh?! Same social psychology PhD Konnikova who wrote for The New Yorker? And ‘The Confidence Game’ and ‘Mastermind: How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes’? This seemed so farfetched that I just had to find out more. Especially since I’m a social psych aficionado and once was a semipro player myself. How did she train up to play well enough to win a big tourney in less than a year? Who taught her? Could a psych PhD trained in cognitive biases by the great Walter Mischel of marshmallow-test fame apply her knowledge to the game, or will she be a fumbling mortal like the rest of us? And, of all the pain one could inflict upon oneself in the name of journalism, why poker?! Does she enjoy sitting at a table for days on end with guys who frankly smell funny? So many questions. I had no choice but to pre-order the book to find out more.
When the ebook arrived last night, I consumed it one sitting. The tale of Konnikova going from 100% poker-naïve novice to sponsored pro in a year is crackingly compelling. No triumphalist tale here. She’s candid about the painful process of improving via trial and error and error and error: impatience, misplaced pride, susceptibility to the biases she has written whole books about, and incomplete self-knowledge. But she also has the insight and humility to ask for help from a mindset coach, who apparently makes some difference (even though he quotes Freud, and it’s not exactly clear *how* he changes mindset — this here coach is curious to know). She endures enough crap — crippling self-doubt, insomnia, sexism, vicious migraines, perfidious allies, crude propositions by creepy dudes — that when she describes her first big tournament win, I threw my hands in the air and audibly woo-hooed. Her victory is every smart, hard-working underdog’s victory.
The heart of the book is her relationship with her poker coach, Erik Seidel, one of the game’s all-time greats. A deeply wise and caring mentor, he dispenses advice that is not just timeless but omni-applicable: “Telling bad beat stories is like dumping trash on your neighbor’s lawn: it just stinks. The goal of poker is not to win pots or chips but to make good decisions. Defeat teaches you more than victory. Don’t play a tournament if you don’t feel at your best.” We all wish we could have a mentor this good.
I also picked up on a lot of useful resources to improve my own game: the PioSOLVER software for game-theory optimized play; SnapShove; Phil Galfond’s Run It Once coaching site; and live streaming of real hands played by pros. These alone were easily worth the cover price.
What delighted me was Maria’s interweaving of the scientific literature into her narrative of training and tournament play: The description-experience gap will make our gut feelings trump numerical rules. Only a third of tournament hands go to showdown, and the best hand only wins 12% of the time. Facial tells are worse than useless; look at hand motions instead. Her long digression into the science and lore of superstition was particularly fun. If you have a lucky shirt or necklace, Konnikova makes a persuasive case for getting rid of it.
This is also a book about entrepreneurship: setting a goal, assembling a team, getting some funding, and executing on the plan. That funding part is pretty essential, because hey, world-class poker training don’t come cheap. Poker coaches can charge hundreds of dollars an hour, well beyond the reach of mere mortals without a substantial bankroll or publisher’s advance. This is a detail I wish the book shared more about.
Finally, there’s much dishy poker lore here. Konnikova has met some greats of the game – Paul Magriel, LuckyChewy, Ike Haxton, Patrik Antonius, and my personal hero “Action Dan” Harrington – and retells stories from legends like Doyle Brunson, Antonio Esfandiari and Phil Laak. Thanks to Maria, our home games will probably soon feature the silly but fun sides bets of the Lodden Game.
Even though the bits of poker strategy Konnikova shares are incidental to the storytelling and not the book’s main show, I learned more about the psychology of my own game from this book than dozens of pure strategy books I’ve read. Besides being a compelling tale, ‘The Biggest Bluff’ is about how seemingly unlikely results can come within reach through persistence, planning, systematic training, and mindset management. Konnikova has earned every bit of her results, one of them being this book. How about you? May the book serve as rocket fuel for your own farfetched daydreams, or that of your favorite budding entrepreneur.
— Ali Binazir, M.D., M.Phil., Happiness Engineer, poker therapist, executive coach and author of The Tao of Dating: The Smart Woman’s Guide to Being Absolutely Irresistible , the most-highlighted book in Kindle Store, and Should I Go to Medical School?: An Irreverent Guide to the Pros and Cons of a Career in Medicine
PS: Lest you think that this review is an endorsement of a career in poker, be forewarned: do not try this at home. First off, you can’t get someone like Erik Seidel to coach you in poker – they’re just not available. And if you did get him, to afford him you’d need be so rich that you wouldn’t need to play poker in the first place. You do not have a supremely supportive spouse who will totally understand your need to travel to tournaments for 9 months out of the year. And you probably aren’t as smart and hardworking as Maria.
Most important, poker is no way to make a living. Spoiler alert: Maria did well in her first year, but went negative in her second year. Have you ever had a job where you worked 40 hrs a week, and made *negative* money? Well, in poker, that happens all the time. Even the best of the best go dead flat broke, regularly.The Biggest Bluff By Maria Konnikova PDF
But beyond the financial swings, it’s the emotional swings that crush. Every time you have a seemingly lock hand and get some chump to call you, only to see him hit two perfect cards to beat you: you will remember those forever. Your brain will become a Hall of Pain of micro-PTSD episodes of bad beats and cosmically unfair tournament eliminations. And after every tourney you lose, which is pretty much all of them, you’ll be no fun to be around for a day or two. I love the game, too, but poker is hard on the soul.
Ultimately, here’s the reason why you should not become a poker pro: even if you do spectacularly well, you will have only done one thing — won at poker. Sure, the money can be nice. But you will not have discovered a new drug to cure a child, composed a poem that people will recite 200 years hence, planted a forest, or led a movement of social progress. Getting really good at poker requires your complete devotion, to the exclusion of almost all else. So if you’re smart enough to be good at poker, perhaps you have other options to make a more meaningful contribution to humankind instead.The Biggest Bluff By Maria Konnikova PDF
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