Maria Konnikova Puts Poker Book On Hold While Tournament Winnings MountMay 8, 2018 8:21 am
Best selling author Maria Konnikova, famous for such books as How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes (2013) and The Confidence Game (2016), decided to turn her psychology and writing skills towards the subject of poker in early 2017. At the time, though, the Harvard University educated Ph.D. in psychology admitted to not even knowing how many cards were contained in a standard deck.
Fortunately, she wisely used the $5,000 advance she was given for her latest book to gain valuable insights into the game by consulting and receiving coaching from such top pros as Erik Seidel, Isaac Haxton and Jason Koon. The author’s original plan was to spend one year learning and playing poker before releasing her new book called “The Biggest Bluff” at the end of 2018.
That release date has now been pushed back until the fall of 2019, however, simply because she is enjoying so much success at the game at the moment that she has decided to continue playing professionally for a while longer.
“I should have had a first draft in long, long ago. I could never have predicted that I would ever be where I am now. I started this project with absolutely zero background in it,” explained Konnikova.
Inspiration for Poker Book
Konnikova, 34, said that she first became interested in writing a book about poker after considering the topic of luck, and how much of our lives is actually under our own control. A friend of Konnikova’s then told her to study the subject of game theory, and after reading John Von Neumann’s book “Theory of Games and Economic Behavior”, she decided to take leave from her writing job at The New Yorker in order to research poker, and learn what the popular game had to teach a person about the ‘luck and skill’ elements of life.
“In life, we also always have cards that we can’t control, but it’s much more difficult to see that.. In any successful endeavor, be it in poker or in life, you need to play well, but you also need to run good,” explains Konnikova.
Konnikova was able to draw on knowledge she gained from writing her previous book called “The Confidence Game: Why We Fall for It … Every Time,” to improve her poker game, with the Russian-American writer explaining that both con artists and poker players alike have to be “tell a good, compelling, consistent story” in order to be successful.
In addition to her background in psychology and behavior, Konnikova has also received training by some of the game’s most successful players, and now studies poker for eight hours a day, and also estimates to have already spent around 2,400 hours competing at poker tournaments.
A Star in the Making
Maria Konnikova started her practical poker research in a moderate way, and won $31,604 in prize money from 13 cashes in 2017. This year, however, started with a flurry after recording an impressive run at the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure (PCA), including taking down the PCA $1,650 NLHE event for $84,600, before in March placing runner-up at the Asia Pacific Poker Tour (APPT) HK$20k NLHE event for HK$451,200 ($57,519).
Konnikova says that she now feels that all the studying and work she has put into her game over the past year has been validated, and that it was a wonderful feeling when everything eventually comes together. Needless to say, winning such a huge amount of money over such a short amount of time is what has inspired her to put her book project on hold as she concentrates on the live poker circuit. However, as Konnikova explains:
“The great thing about books is you don’t need to have an ending in mind. The book could work even if I ended up sucking as a poker player. But, I hope I can do better than that. I hope my story can inspire people. I want them to think, ‘I can do this, too.’”