How a New York Times bestselling author 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.
... fascinating ... Part of the book’s deliciousness is Konnikova’s journey from 'novicedom,' starting out in online poker cafes in Hoboken, N.J., and making it all the way to the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas ... What elevates Konnikova’s journey above a Plimpton-esque stunt is the way she constantly peppers “The Biggest Bluff” with compelling studies and quotes ... Konnikova is like your smart friend who instantly contextualizes everything by sharing the latest data and sharpest insight, whom you come to quote too often to other friends and family ... a feminist story without being a feminist tract. It’s an underdog tale in which the rise of the underdog has an air of inevitability and sweet revenge. It’s a nonfiction Bildungsroman minus the navel-gazing. Konnikova keeps the lines so clean and even, so steady and unshowy that she might be the Charlie Watts of prose: While the backbeat never ceases and the narrative propels along, it’s her curiosity that proliferates. In fact, one of the biggest bluffs of The Biggest Bluff may be that Konnikova hasn’t written a book about her success with cards and chips exactly, but bet the house on the power of her mind to synthesize big philosophical ideas and psychological insights at a time when we, too, find ourselves questioning our fortunes, hoping to master our fates and playing much bigger odds than ever before.
There has never been a more pressing need for digestible and coherent literature on rational decision-making ... What at first seems a light-hearted story about a curious academic dipping her toe into shark-infested waters delivers a crucial lesson in how to thrive in an increasingly misleading world ... Mindset is key, and Konnikova wisely dedicates much of her book to this ... Despite her clear aptitude, some crushing early losses almost see Konnikova abandon the game entirely. She helps the reader avoid the same pitfalls by sharing her mistakes and moments of self-doubt with stark honesty ... As someone who has read almost every piece of literature on poker, I can say that The Biggest Bluff is the best depiction yet of the game I love, and the invaluable thinking skills it teaches. This is not a book that will teach you how to play your Ace–Queen out of position against a laggy villain (although it will teach you what that means). But it will show you how to play the game of life more effectively. Konnikova’s is an uplifting zero-to-hero journey that will raise a smile in these trying times.
... what a fascinating journey and narrative it is, as the fretful neophyte not only masters the intricacies of Texas hold ’em but also gains some profound insights about herself. What starts as a whim is transformed in the process into a provocative and moving spiritual journey, one that will inspire readers as much as it entertains them ... I was all in for Konnikova from the day she first approached Seidel at a New York coffee shop, charmed by her honesty and self-deprecating humor. I found myself cheering even her small victories and feeling the disappointment of her losses. In the end, readers share in her big win, though her winnings are not what we — or she — originally had in mind. The biggest bluff, she comes to understand, is the belief that skill can ever be enough when luck is stacked against us. Yet this hope is what keeps us going, both in the casino and in life. In the end, Konnikova’s winning hand is dealt out not in aces and jacks, straights and flushes, but in self-knowledge, acceptance and serenity.