Get a free audiobook

$14.95/month + applicable taxes after 30 days. Cancel anytime.

Publisher's Summary

The New York Times best seller! 

“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 PhD 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.

©2020 Maria Konnikova (P)2020 Penguin Audio

What the critics say

“I love it. Not only did The Biggest Bluff lead me into a complex and charismatic new world; it made me think about my own life and my own self-deceptions about control - and taught me to pay more attention to my own opponents, mine being of the tennis sort. The narrative is deftly crafted, and the journey - the self-examination, the oddball characters, the awful misogyny, the Aggros, the notion of tilt - accumulates in a seamless and satisfying way. I read this in what for me was record time.” (Erik Larson, author of The Splendid and the Vile

“The narrative is so gripping that you might get halfway through The Biggest Bluff before you even notice that you're getting a master class in learning, focus, and decision making. I tore through it in two sittings, and haven't stopped thinking about it since.” (David Epstein, author of Range)

“I absolutely love this book. The story is fantastically gripping, and offers lessons about decision making, luck, risk - and most important, how to play at life like a cool-headed pro. This is one of my favorite books of the year.” (Charles Duhigg, author of best sellers The Power of Habit and Smarter Faster Better)

What listeners say about The Biggest Bluff

Average Customer Ratings
Overall
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    94
  • 4 Stars
    32
  • 3 Stars
    11
  • 2 Stars
    1
  • 1 Stars
    2
Performance
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    89
  • 4 Stars
    23
  • 3 Stars
    6
  • 2 Stars
    1
  • 1 Stars
    2
Story
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    86
  • 4 Stars
    29
  • 3 Stars
    5
  • 2 Stars
    3
  • 1 Stars
    0

Reviews - Please select the tabs below to change the source of reviews.

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

good listen while scrapping glue off old steps

very interesting and fun book to read. Kept me intrigued the whole time. Made doing relentless work enjoyable as I was working in house doing tedious job most of time I listened to book . I like poker. will probably keep playing it when I have time forsever

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

Weak delivery

The read is terrible. It’s a whispered, millennial, vocal fry delivery that has no punch or presence. I get she’s the author and not a professional announcer, but it can be hard to listen to

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

Yawn

Fluffier than your favourite pancakes. Author drags on for ages on seemingly irrelevant anecdotes and observations.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Really compelling book about risk perception

This was a really compelling read - both exciting and informative. I learned a lot about the human psychology behind our perception of risk, chance and skill. (In case you didn't realize, this isn't a book about how to play poker). It was written in a very colloquial, friendly way - this took some getting used to and contrasted to other non-fiction books, but I enjoyed the style within about 25 pages.

My only criticism is that it felt a bit rushed at the end. I would have liked some summary on what the author learned through her journey. In addition, it felt like the story wasn't completely finished - obviously that's no fault of the author... she's still living her life!

Anyway, I would strongly recommend this book if you enjoy books about human psychology and our perception of risk.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Love this thoughtful book

this is a great reflection on certainty, chance, the human condition and decision making. I enjoyed it immensely and will return to it again

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
  • DJ
  • 2021-02-15

A book with valuable lessons - poker player or not

The most wondrous thing about this book is that it almost feels like fiction, except its not. The author is exceptional at story telling, and is able to convey lessons she learned on this journey in a beautiful way. Definitely a book you will enjoy regardless of whether you play poker or not.

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

all about me

this is an account of the author learned to play poker. if you don’t play poker listening to this book is boring.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Excellent Book!!

I heard the author in an interview on Freakonomics talking about this book and I was interested immediately. I know nothing about poker or gambling TBH and yet the book was an interesting story and perspective on the game.
I loved listening to her read - her voice is interesting and a little raspy. I’m actually surprised others disliked the narration so much.
I am not a huge audio book person - I tend to listen to a bunch of things and cycle through, but I was interested and finished the book in a short period of time because I wanted to hear more about her project.
This is not a ‘how to play poker’ book and although there was insight into decision making, what I enjoyed most was the story of her journey with Erik working towards her ultimate goal.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Entertaining. Engaging. No Poker knowledge needed.

GREAT STORY - The book traces the author’s journey, complete with many side characters and events, big and small. It is engaging, lively, funny at times. Thankfully it is NOT OVERLY ANALYTICAL AND DRY. It could have so easily been, and that would have ruined it for me.

IT IS NOT A GUIDE ON DECISION MAKING. If that is what you are looking for, you will be disappointed.

NO PRIOR POKER KNOWLEDGE NEEDED - It would definitely help if you understand poker, but the author makes her explanations simple enough that you understand the gist of what’s happening without getting into technicalities. I do not understand poker at all but had no problems enjoying the story.

NARRATION - The author is not a great narrator. Her voice takes some getting used to and is lisp-y at times. But she brings the right emotions at the right time (given that she has lived them) and this more than makes up for the less than perfect speech.

Highly recommend for poker lovers and for non-fiction lovers.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • a m
  • 2020-09-24

Loved it

Clever, funny and entertaining. Learned a lot about decision making and people. I hope she writes more books like this. Having the author narrate is always a treat. Bravo

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Curtis Hauge
  • 2020-07-18

Only for Poker Fans. Not much there if you arent.

Got this because of her CBS News interview. The impression I got from reading the introduction and a few reviews was that she would give some insight because of her psychological background some insight into how her foray into the world of high stakes poker changed her outlook on life after a series of misfortunes in her life. It really doesn't delve into that. She just says at the end that it gave her a more confident attitude about life. The rest of the book is the journey she took with poker champion mentors to become one herself. Here I would have liked to hear more insight into the personalities of these (mostly men) players and what drives them to succeed and why. But mostly it is a lot of poker theory and how she applied it to win. Yay for her but for someone like me who is a casual player at best I was expecting more about everything else.

14 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • BreezyPalmera
  • 2020-06-27

One of the best books on decision-making

Maria Konnikova narrates the story of her foray into the game of poker, the lessons she learned from some of the greatest minds in the game, and what it taught her about herself in terms of making decisions. A book you won’t want to put down, with many gifts for your own life if you pay attention.

7 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Rich Tanguy
  • 2020-07-21

Buy the Book

Konnikova is an educated woman with an ability to explain complex psychological concepts in layman's language. She tells an interesting story once it gets going (@ chapter four). It is a fascinating topic that will engage your interest long after finishing the book.

When will producers learn to STOP LETTING AUTHORS READ THEIR OWN BOOKS! I listened to this book while on a long distance drive. If my passenger had this voice, I would have abandoned her at the first rest stop.

Buy the book. Plus I imagine it will have her data and studies referenced.

5 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Katie Chase
  • 2020-07-14

Incredible story, applicable to life

Absolutely loved this story. She set out to learn skills that could be amortized beyond poker and I think she got more than she bargained for.

5 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • RGT
  • 2020-07-11

Overall I enjoyed it

Objective Review: Maria Konnikova's story, and the insights she shares are worth checking out. Subjective feelings about the audiobook version: She has a writing style, and voice, that was tough for me to enjoy at times.

5 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • tsatske
  • 2020-07-14

Amazingly Insightful!!

I don’t, or well didn’t play poker, however, I really enjoy a good biography. That is how I happened upon this masterpiece of a book. It totally surprised me how much I loved it and I have continually discussed it with people throughout the past week as I’ve been listening. I’m now on the search for more psychological biographies!! I’ve picked up a little online poker in my free time. I’ve google searched Maria Konnikova and watched some videos, listened to some podcasts, and read some articles as a result of how very much I loved this book. This book is so, very good!! You won’t be disappointed.

4 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Anonymous User
  • 2020-10-06

A boring book

I am disappointed with this book . The reader has a terrible voice and the story seems to have little to no point. I could not finish this book due to the above reasons. The author should never read her own books.

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Amazon Customer
  • 2020-08-09

Not really a surprise

Enjoyed the inside look at pro poker play. Is it really a life lesson or a surprise that having the money to commit to something full time, having the world’s best players, coaches and sports psychologists in your corner will help you achieve your goal??

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Anonymous User
  • 2020-06-25

Brilliant author and beautiful story

Rarely listened to a more authentic book. Большое спасибо! Maria reading herself made it perfect.

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Armand Jarri
  • 2020-08-01

Badly written

This is bot a book on poker It is a badly written memoir. The author often gooes off on a tangent : personal banter, repetitions, name dropping. It is hard to see the thesis of the author. There is none.

2 people found this helpful