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The Biggest Bluff

How I Learned to Pay Attention, Master Myself, and Win
Written by: Maria Konnikova
Narrated by: Maria Konnikova
Length: 11 hrs and 13 mins
5 out of 5 stars (5 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

How a New York Times best-selling author and New Yorker contributor parlayed a strong grasp of the science of human decision-making and a woeful ignorance of cards into a life-changing run as a professional poker player, under the wing of a legend of the game

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)

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  • 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.

3 people found this helpful

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  • 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.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Nj
  • 2020-07-07

useful insights and thoughtful concepts,

Pay attention. luck and skill, and have a great mentor to listen and expand your abilities

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  • E. Hanson
  • 2020-07-05

Wow wow wow

Brilliant and frustratingly addictive. I don't really care about poker but Maria Konnikova makes me want to care about all the ways poker is a metaphor for life and how we pay attention or deny our responsibilities or rely on luck or or or. She is a brave woman who walked into a man's smokey world and sat down at the felt table to learn...eventually to teach others through her stories. I am grateful she did. It is a joy ride with the top down and men get to grab the dash from the passenger seat!

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  • Anonymous User
  • 2020-07-03

Crazy Story!!

I binged this 11 hour book in 2 days. I'm looking forward to actually reading future books after such a mindset change. You can tell poker really changed her mindset and outlook and it's really entertaining to hear her chronicle her journey to being a pro poker player. Recommended!!

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  • jenni9ram
  • 2020-07-02

What a ride

This story way a surprise that had me hooked after hearing the same. I felt like it ended abruptly and would have liked some resolution or more understanding as to what happened.

The story itself and performance were outstanding.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 2020-07-01

excellent!

I found this book to be insightful, engaging, and applicable. Konnikova does a wonderful job weaving psychological content into an engaging narrative.