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"The Biggest Bluff" Review

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TitleThe Biggest Bluff
AuthorMaria Konnikova
Skill Levelany
ProsGuided by one of the best players of all-time, Konnikova takes a surprisingly quick journey from poker novice to the World Series of Poker and beyond. Side trips show how she applies lessons from poker to her real life.
ConsNot much actual poker. Not much of the WSOP beyond hands the author is involved in.

Table of Contents
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xiiA prelude -- Las Vegas, July 2017
6Ante up -- New York, late summer 20161
32The birth of a gambler -- Boston, fall 20162
46The art of losing -- New York, fall 20173
66The mind of a strategist -- New York, late fall 20164
94A man's world -- New York, winter 20165
116No bad beats -- Las Vegas, winter 20176
136Texting your way out of millions -- Las Vegas, winter 20177
154A storytelling business -- Las Vegas, March 20178
170The gambler and the nerd -- Monte Carlo, April 20199
194The art of the tell -- New York, May-June 201710
210Full tilt -- Las Vegas, June-July 201711
226Glory days -- The Bahamas, January 201812
266The heart of the gambling beast -- Macau, March 201813
318The ludic fallacy -- Las Vegas, June 201914
327Glossary of Poker Terms

Note: The books chapters aren't actually numbered.

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Maria Konnikova immigrated from Russia with her parents as a young child, turned a Harvard education into a good job as a psychologist and author. For her third book, she followed in the footsteps of Anthony Holden, Al Alvarez, James McManus, Peter Alson, Pat Walsh, and Colson Whitehead, while branching out beyond the usual training sequences, false starts, setbacks, and trip to Las Vegas. Konnikova's profession serves as the basis for her journey and provides her with a far different point of view from these other authors.

A huge part of her success is that she is able to convince her New York neighbor, who happens to be all-time great Erik Seidel, to mentor her. While this is not a role he usually plays, he performs it well. In less than a year, Konnikova goes from not knowing how many cards are in a deck to holding her own at the 2017 World Series of Poker.

The book, however does not end there, although that was the original plan. Konnikova is playing well enough and profitably enough to extend the experiment another year. The publication delay pays off when, against all odds, she wins a major tournament and becomes a professional poker player.

Throughout her adventures, Konnikova also successfully applies lessons she learns from poker to improve her real life. Her goal had been to better understand how humans handle chance, but she eventually enriches not only her bank account but also her non-poker life, which is more than you can expect from most poker books.

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