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Summary

How a New York Times best-selling author and New Yorker contributor 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.  

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. 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. This is an audiobook that will focus your mind and strengthen your hand.

©2020 Maria Konnikova (P)2020 HarperCollins Publishers Limited

Critic reviews

"The narrative is so gripping that you might get halfway through The Biggest Bluff before you even notice that you’re getting a master class in learning, focus, and decision-making. I tore through it in two sittings, and haven’t stopped thinking about it since." (David Epstein, author of Range)

"One of the most extraordinary outcomes of any experiment in participatory journalism. This is a book not just about poker, but about the meaning of luck, the science of skill, and the psychology of outsmarting your competitors." (Joshua Foer, author of Moonwalking with Einstein)

"A flat out classic. It’s a ripping good story - with an underdog heroine, a Yoda-like mentor, and a cast of wild characters. It’s a sophisticated meditation on the relative importance of deep skill and dumb luck.... [Listening to] this book is like drawing a straight flush." (Daniel H. Pink, author of When, Drive and To Sell Is Human)

What listeners say about The Biggest Bluff

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Too many quotes

The continuous quoting and referencing gets to become predictable and tiresome. The book needed editing.

2 people found this helpful

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Wonderful book about poker and life, a broken rut

I've struggled to get into a new book for months one that I actually follow through to the end and have just been revisiting old favourites. The biggest bluff has happily broken that rut!


Finished in a few days and a huge eye opener to the poker world, trading, money management and other important life lessons and advice

I can remember Marias name being brought up while watching one of the matches on YouTube talking about her mentorship with Sidel and seeing her book I wanted to get a viewpoint of learning poker by one of the very best players in the world
Not afraid to point the finger right at herself when she has messed up she holds no punches and ensures the reader understands why. She shows her human side and the struggles that an individual goes through when betting money (something that lines up very well with trading the stock and forex markets)

Proformed very well by the author, she knows when emphasise and when to hold back, another one added to the favourites list

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Please read!

Honest and insightful look at the philosophy of life using poker as a medium. Superb writing and narration makes this an absolute gem.

2 people found this helpful

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A book to read, not to listen to

The narration is annoying. She often squeeks and speaks with a vocal fry. Not pleasant to listen to.

The story itself is written like a novel. It is not particularly good, but when interested better read than listen.

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Please keep writing

Surpassed my expectations and what a great writer and speaker, I hope we can have more than 2 books on audible

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A wealth of information

It goes way beyond the world of poker. A fascinating self-experiment brilliantly lead by the author, that explores life with all the in-betweens, knowledge (and applying it!), interactions, biases, embracing the unknown and the willingness to fail, learn and try again as long as you know why. Very inspiring and highly informative!

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Narrated amazingly well and clear and told great!

The story has twists and turns, learning delivered in a fascinating way, one of the best books I read in this category

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great listen for poker players

enjoyable story through starting to playing in big leagues. worthwhile listen if expert or just an armchair fan.

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Multidimensional

A personal and professional journey that covers so much more.
Surprisingly engaging, entertaining and compelling.

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Awesome

Loved this book. Great format and a very compelling story line. Really expanded on the characters and tied it all together at the end, with how the learnings relate to real life

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  • Apie
  • 28-07-20

Unexpectedly, exactly what I needed.

I played a lot of poker in my twenties. Even won a few local tournaments. Then I had a bad run and quit. I lived quite a bit scared in my general life (traumatic events) after that as well. Then I got short stacked and went all in by selling everything and just traveling. Came back end of 2019 without knowing what to do.

This book has been exactly what I needed. I had expected that I can beat lady luck. When it failed, I withdrew. Going back into life without those delusions, and aiming at dqncing with her rather than controlling her is exactly what I needed to learn. Great listen. Thanks!

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  • Tim Rotas
  • 22-08-20

Brilliant! Don’t worry... Not necessarily about poker.

If you’re looking for a refreshing (and successful) way to approach life this is it. Told through Maria’s personal experience trying to become a poker pro. It gives you the tools to think about your own life “games” and how chance and strategy combine to give you outcomes... Well researched, some great references and frameworks for thinking I had to pause the recording and google. It’s already improved my decision making in my business and a different lens in which to view the world. Bravo.