A Pro In The Making – Maria Konnikova

img_src: The New York Times

A Pro In The Making

Maria Konnikova, journalist and author, is on a mission to help enlighten people about human psychology through tantalizing subjects, like the world of con artists and the curious mental strategies of Sherlock Holmes. Her articles are often published in the New Yorker, Big Think and the New republic and include subjects like the perils of a wandering mind and how to have a good argument with yourself.

Maria’s articles use her background in psychology and explore the factors that go into decision-making in controversial subjects. She has also the proud author of two best sellers The Confidence Game and Mastermind.

On this endeavor and for one her most recent books, the 33 year old decided to explore the world of Texas Hold’em poker. In her interview for the New York Times she said a friend suggested that poker was the perfect analog to understand how strategic decision-making worked. Konnikova was also interested in how skill and chance played out in our lives, and thus stumbled upon her befitting new subject!

With no background of the game, she began her research and scored a million dollar opportunity to shadow the legendary Erik Seidel on the felts. Konnikova went from knowing poker only from the movie Rounders, to bringing home her first tournament prize of $84,600!

While her writing job at the New Yorker was put on hold, the poker community welcomed her with open arms and here we are with yet another professional in the making!

In a game where bluffing can make or break your bank roll, Konnikova began to learn to bluff strategically and her background in psychology made it easier for her to read people and situations at the table. The main two pointers she brings to the table are the skills to observe and listen and the tactics on leveraging the human desire to say yes.

From a columnist to a pro-coached amateur bringing home the big bucks, Konnikova’s story made its way to The New York Times, a proud and inspiring moment for the global poker community!

Fellow poker players exchanged words of appreciation.

As she progresses on the poker table, her two final table appearances in the APPT series in Honk Kong are noteworthy. Her mantra: “Studying, playing, living, breathing poker for eight to nine hours a day, every day”, there are no shortcuts!

Ending on her final words of wisdom and some food for thought:

“People often ascribe everything good to skill. And then when bad things happen, they say, ‘Oh, it’s bad luck.’ That’s what I wanted to write about”

In other words: how much of our lives do we actually control?