When Maria Konnikova set out to investigate the science of decision-making, she thought she might learn some life lessons – but never expected to become a world poker champion under the tutelage of a legend of the game.
The author of two New York Times bestsellers, psychologist 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, winner of tens of millions of dollars in earnings — and asked him to be her mentor. She had faced a stretch of personal bad luck, and her reflections on the role of chance in her life had pointed her to poker as the ultimate master class in learning to distinguish what can be controlled and what can’t. Seidel was in, and soon Konnikova was down the rabbit hole with him, a journey that would lead her to the following year’s World Series of Poker.
Then something extraordinary happened. Under Seidel’s guidance, Konnikova began to 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. She found her way to making better decisions and to a place where she could accept luck for what it is, and what it isn’t. But she also began to win. And win. She won a major title and got used to headlines like ‘How one writer’s book deal turned her into a professional poker player’. She even learned to like Las Vegas.
In the end, Konnikova is a student of human behaviour, and ultimately the point of her incredible adventure was to render it into a container for its invaluable lessons. The biggest bluff of all, she learned, is that skill is enough.
In this free livestreamed conversation with Hannah MacInnes, Maria will teach you to focus your mind – and strengthen your hand.
Praise for Maria Konnikova:
‘This book probably won’t turn you into an international poker champ overnight, and it definitely won’t make you as smart as Maria Konnikova. But it will do something just as valuable: it will teach you to think more like her. It’s rare enough to find a memoir this transfixing or a behavioral science book this insightful. To have them combined in one place—by a psychologist who mastered one of the most competitive games on earth—is a real treat.’ — Adam Grant, bestselling author of Originals and Give and Take
‘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 bestsellers The Power of Habit and Smarter Faster Better
‘We’re all searching for greater self-knowledge—and Maria Konnikova found it through poker. She set out to make herself a champion, and along the way, she learned far more than the game. In lessons we can use ourselves, poker taught her greater emotional and physical regulation, tolerance for risk and uncertainty, more intelligent decision-making, a grasp of the intertwined roles of chance and skill, and sheer confidence. As she explains, ‘This book isn’t about how to play poker. It’s about how to play the world.’ — Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project and Better Than Before
This event takes place at 6:30pm British Summer Time.
About Our Digital Programme:
In response to the global pandemic, How To Academy is curating a not-for-profit programme of live-streamed talks and conversations bringing you advice, insight and entertainment. Tickets are offered on a Pay What You Can basis, including a Free EarlyBird option for those who cannot afford more at this difficult time. Thank you for your help sustaining How To Academy through the crisis — and for enabling us to share new thinking from across the globe at a time when it has never been more important.
Books will be shipped within two weeks of the event (hopefully sooner). Please note that due to the challenges of distribution during the global pandemic, some books may be delayed. If we experience any delay in getting your copy to you, we will contact you by email to let you know. Thank you for supporting a local London business, Primrose Hill Books.