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The Biggest Bluff

How I Learned to Pay Attention, Take Control and Master the Odds
Narrated by: Maria Konnikova
Length: 11 hrs and 13 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (133 ratings)

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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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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Inspirational and catching

I sometimes struggle to keep focus with audiobook, but the narrator and narration kept me hooked. Really great content expressed in a equally great form. Highly recommended!

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Hard to listen to.

The story is interesting but the content of the audio book is delivered in a tone by the author that I can only describe as ditzi and airheaded which would go better with a feature story for a New York socialite magazine. I find it hard to listen to and I probably will have to buy the book to finish it.

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Interesting dissection of human decision making

This is a great book in which the author, Maria Konnikova, uses her experiences in the poker world as a framing device to explore the hidden cognitive biases and social forces that shape human decision making. She balances an interesting narrative (her own evoluation as a poker player) with interesting observations, and current scientific evidence on how we as humans can make better decisions given imperfect information. Audio book is well narrated and easy to listen to.

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Beautiful insightful and enthralling

What a beautiful insightful and enthralling book. And I loved learning about poker too. Thank you Maria Konnikova for a sincerely wonderful and life-changing read.

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Must read

One of the best all round self development books I’ve ever read. So much though provoking ideas. Will definitely be sharing.

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Games and psychology

A great meditation on decision making, fallibility and games. Enjoyable for anyone who likes poker or has never played the game but has an interest in psychology

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Poker & Psychology

Very good audiobook! if you are a fan of Poker & Psychology, then you'll love this. Amazing poker journey over a few years. Great narration - I think an audiobook always sounds better & more engaging when the person reading it is the author; the story really comes alive with emotion when the voice is the author. would highly recommend!

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Great story

Very interesting if you are even remotely interested in poker. Well worth a read. 👍

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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.

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A very worthwhile journey

Exceptionally thoughtful insight into a journey of discovering the essence of human nature in the game of poker. Fantastic!

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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.

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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!