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The Biggest Bluff Reviews

The Biggest Bluff by Maria Konnikova

The Biggest Bluff: How I Learned to Pay Attention, Master Myself, and Win

Maria Konnikova

4.40 out of 5

3 reviews

Imprint: Fourth Estate Ltd
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 25 Jun 2020
ISBN: 9780008270834

How a New York Times bestselling 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

4 stars out of 5
27 Jun 2020

"(a) beguiling book about going from poker novice to poker pro in a year or so"

Konnikova is a good writer and hellishly bright, but she’s not a lean, mean storytelling machine like Malcolm Gladwell. If The Biggest Bluff sprawls a bit, though, it also takes you on a rewarding journey into a new world. It won’t tell you the secret of how to win at poker any more than it will tell you how to win at life, but it might give you a few ideas.
 

Reviews

4 stars out of 5
Hermione Eyre
27 Jun 2020

"A welcome story for a generation questioning the ‘work hard and prosper’ promise of the American dream."

In time she sheds what she calls her female socialisation and brings aggression into her game; because in poker, as in life, there is a ‘false sense of security in passivity’. ‘You think that you can’t get into too much trouble — but really, every passive decision leads to a slow but steady loss of chips.’ Lean in, in other words. Or, as they used to say, nothing ventured, nothing gained. The eternal verities are worth repeating anew, although there is something a little strange about reading so much about the latest scientific research only to end up having it all summarised by quotations from Kipling: ‘If you can make a heap of all your winnings/ And risk it on one turn of pitch and toss…’ The readiness to go all in, in love, in life or in a game, is everything. Konnikova goes for it, and wins.

5 stars out of 5
20 Jun 2020

"The Biggest Bluff is a brilliant book mostly because Konnikova is a brilliant writer, but also because she is a brilliant observer of the weird world she has immersed herself into. "

The Biggest Bluff is a brilliant book mostly because Konnikova is a brilliant writer, but also because she is a brilliant observer of the weird world she has immersed herself into. Her pithy descriptions of casinos in Las Vegas, Macau, and elsewhere (she refers to Vegas perfectly as “an adult playground on a lifelike scale”) captures the seedy charm of these airless, dream-filled tombs.

She is also an excellent chronicler of the gender dynamics around a poker table. Pro poker is 97 per cent male. Men tend to view women as easy marks. (Konnikova cites a study showing that men bluff women 6 per cent more than they do other men) Then there is the mixture of condescension, bullying and lechery she encounters from her fellow players. Konnikova tries to flip these prejudices to her advantage, with limited success.