The Biggest Bluff: How I Learned to Pay Attention, Master Myself, and Win

By Maria Konnikova

Recommended on: 29th September 2020

The Biggest Bluff: How I Learned to Pay Attention, Master Myself, and Win, by Maria Konnikova. What a fantastic book! Maria has a doctorate in social psychology from Columbia. But instead of going into academia, after a bout of sad events in her family, and with the stalwart support of her husband, Maria decided to tackle the world of high stakes poker.  Armed only with her own chutzpah (she had no knowledge whatsoever of poker), and a deviously informative research paper, she convinced one of the world’s best poker players to take her on as a student. This extraordinary book tells her tale. What turns this book into a master work is that Konnikova turns her psychoanalysis skills on herself.  As she observes:

“What I will offer throughout is insight into decision making far removed from poker, a translation of what I’m learning in the casino to the decisions I make on a daily basis—and the crucial decisions that I make only rarely, but that carry particular import. From managing emotion, to reading other people, to cutting your losses and maximizing your gains, to psyching yourself up into the best version of yourself so that you can not only catch the bluffs of others but bluff successfully yourself, poker is endlessly applicable and revelatory. The mixture of chance and skill at the table is a mirror to that same mixture in our daily lives—and a way of learning to play within those parameters in superior fashion. Poker teaches you how and when you can take true control—and how you can deal with the elements of pure luck—in a way no other environment I’ve encountered has quite been able to do. What’s more, in an age of omnipresent distraction, poker reminds us just how critical close observation and presence are to achievement and success. How important it is to immerse yourself and to learn new things, truly. As Erik [Konnikova’s mentor] told me that first day, lesson one: pay attention. This book isn’t about how to play poker. It’s about how to play the world.”

This book is a wow—enjoy it now! (Also great for audio.)