Maria Konnikova has shaped a successful writing career out of her pursuit of the hidden narratives in human psychology. In the years since she earned a Ph.D. in psychology from Columbia University, she has written about the subject from just about every angle: work habits, electability, how to tell when someone is lying, and the healing art of the unsent angry letter. She has detailed the cultivation of keen observational habits in Mastermind: How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes, and explored the nature and nurture of human deception in The Confidence Game: Why We Fall for It … Every Time. In her new book, The Biggest Bluff: How I Learned to Pay Attention, Master Myself, and Win, Konnikova chronicles her 12-month education in high-stakes, no-limit Texas Hold’em, and her subsequent rise from poker novice to international champion.
In the wake of several personal and professional challenges, Konnikova yearns to understand the nature of her family’s streak of bad luck. First, Konnikova’s mother loses her job. Then her grandmother dies after a freak accident at home. Next, her husband loses his job, and, breaking the proverbial rule of three, she is diagnosed with an autoimmune condition that leaves physicians stumped and Konnikova isolated and in pain. There must, she hopes, be some way to make sense of this apparently random sequence of unfortunate events.