A writer who learned how to Play Poker for a book wins £95,000 and becomes a professional
Maria Konnikova, a New Yorker writer and best-selling author, has won more than £95,000 ($130,000) while playing poker which she had no knowledge to play about over a year ago.
The writer wanted her next book to focus on luck after her past success in books such as ‘The Confidence Game: The Psychology of the Con and Why We Fall for it Every Time.’ Speaking to The Independent, she said that the project about luck would be used to try ‘to tell the difference between skill and chance and how much we control’
Maria was suggested to by a friend to check John Von Neumann’s book, ‘Theory of Games and Economic Behaviour’ which would appeal to her due to John’s desire to solve poker.
‘Metaphor for life’
It is John’s theory that led her to try her luck on the game. In his theory, Von Neumann described poker as a ‘metaphor for life.’
Maria would take a year off from writing to sharpen her skills including getting lessons from some of the pros. She says the journey did not start as expected and that she was ‘scared’ to play live poker. However, she started to record wins. ‘I started living and breathing poker.’ She says.
She came second in the prestigious PokerStars Championship Monte Carlo which was her first big high-stakes game. After the championship experience, she would then record winnings consistently.
Maria, who now plays the table professionally, believes there is a positive side of it and the disadvantages too. She cites practice and repetition as tips to give an experience which makes a player better. However, she notes that she had a career and a different life and through it, she brings several skills. ‘I am going in as an outsider with a fresh set of eyes.’ She says.
Emotional decision making
She says that being a writer is helpful in ‘observing other people like a fly on the wall.’ The observance plays a major role especially while competing in the high-stress environment. With a background of psychology, she can study emotional decision-making which helps her identify those players who make decisions based on stress or emotions.
Konnikova notes that as much as she can tell a person making emotionally-charged decisions, she also makes them and is aware of that. She explains that playing for many hours makes one tired and emotionally depleted. Once at this point, the emotions get rawer and once she notes this on the players, she takes advantage of that.
However, getting to accurately read people will not always depict that one can determine when a person lies. Konnikova notes that there are no universal signs of deception and that it varies from one person to another. She, however, notes that some subtle changes may point to signs of a person bluffing or lying.
The ability to take advantage of emotional behaviour and her hard work has given her an edge despite her lack of experience in the past.
A year later, she plays No-Limit Hold’em professionally. Speaking on the game, she says, ‘It has the perfect balance of the info you have and the info you don’t have.’ The game has opened up a career for her for the ‘foreseeable future.’
The release of her poker book ‘The Biggest Bluff’ has been postponed. However, she is still recording winnings
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