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Maria Konnikova’s Book On Hold Because Of Money, Not Writer’s Block

Maria Konnikova has a unique problem–she keeps making so much money playing poker, she can’t find time to stop and write her book about the game.

typewriter with paper eading success story
Katie Callahan Avatar
3 mins read

New York Times bestselling author and journalist Maria Konnikova recently set aside her pen and paper for poker.

She effectively put her book on hold because she became too successful at poker, reported PokerNews. Now, she revised her poker schedule with higher buy-ins and just a larger number of events.

She told PokerNews:

“PCA was the moment where everything kind of came together. I’m learning and it’s sticking and I’m playing well. It’s a really wonderful feeling when you’re studying and working to have that validated.”

Konnikova originally came onto the poker scene to connect her writing with poker exploits as a form of mental strategy. Using Erik Seidel as her coach and keeping her dominant writing topics of psychology, science, and poker in her arsenal, she began to cash big.

Konnikova is unstoppable

Her first and best live cash came from the $1,650 PCA National, where she took home first place and $84,600. She had three other cashes in Monaco and three more at the World Series of Poker (WSOP) last year.

Within the span of five months, she went from almost $140,000 to $203,560, an approximate $63.5oo difference.

She also got a Platinum Pass to the 2019 PokerStars Players No Limit Hold’em Championship, valued at $30,000.

In March, Konnikova did very well at the Asia Pacific Poker Tour:

  • 2nd in the Turbo edition of the $5,000 No-Limit Hold’em Main Event ($57,519)
  • 7th in the $20,000 No-Limit Hold’em event ($2,434)
  • 28th in the $3,000 No-Limit Hold’em event ($727)

In total, she snagged $60,680 from that tournament alone. In April, she went to Monte Carlo for the European Poker Tour Monte Carlo for the $2,200 No Limit Hold’em Event #22, winning $4,567 when she placed 40th.

Following a sports book trend?

Konnikova isn’t the first to write about her experience. A long line of authors and athletes also utilized their status as outsiders to drive their success, found Deadspin.

This list includes:

  • George Plimpton – utilized his tryouts with the NFL, MLB, and NHL to write multiple books
  • Michael McKnight – learned how to dunk and hit a homer (journalist for Sports Illustrated)
  • Stefan Fatsis – wrote books about trying to become a kicker for the Denver Broncos and a competitive Scrabble player
  • Dan McLaughlin – tried to become a professional golfer using Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000‑hour theory after having never played golf before
  • James McManus – finished fifth in the 2000 WSOP in Vegas after originally being there to cover a murder case and write a book

More on her start

A friend originally told Konnikova to look into John Von Neumann’s “Theory of Games and Economic Behavior,” a book born out of a desire to solve poker, reported The Independent.

After finding her own interest in the book, Konnikova tried the game, took a year off from The New Yorker, and started taking lessons from Erik Seidel.

Now, she wins consistently because her own practice, repetition, and writing career make her a keen outside observer, a “fly on the wall.”

“Emotional decision-making is exactly what poker is,” she said. “You can actually see it happening. Even the most mathematical stoic players are not computers,” she said to The Independent.

Her previous writing picks up on cons and decision-making practices that make her especially able to apply that to poker.

‘The Biggest Bluff’ still coming; status of her book

Konnikova adjusted her book schedule to come out in the summer or fall of 2019.

The book, to be called “The Biggest Bluff”, will discuss how poker can be used to make better everyday decisions. While Erik Seidel has been her primary coach, Jason Koon and Isaac Haxton have also come to her aid.

Konnikova has already touched on what makes her different from others, like Victoria Coren Mitchell (Observer columnist turned poker player), who have tried this before.

Even with this perspective, she said she fell behind.

“I should have had a first draft in long, long ago,” she told the New York Post. “I could never have predicted that I would ever be where I am now. I started this project with absolutely zero background in it.”

But she won’t fall out of writing.

“I’m not abandoning writing. I really want to give it my all, but this is for the book ultimately. There’s definitely one version of the future where I still write and play poker professionally. Why in the world wouldn’t I do both?”

Katie Callahan Avatar
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Katie Callahan is a freelance journalist, blogger and copywriter who covers everything from poker, business, education and politics to construction, startups and cybersecurity.

View all posts by Katie Callahan

Katie Callahan is a freelance journalist, blogger and copywriter who covers everything from poker, business, education and politics to construction, startups and cybersecurity.

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