When bestselling author Maria Konnikova set out to investigate the science of decision-making, she never expected to become a world-class poker player under the wing 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 podcast with Hannah MacInnes, Maria will teach you to focus your mind – and strengthen your hand.