Hellmuth and Seidel React To Maria Konnikova’s NYT Interview2 years ago
Maria Konnikova’s year of going from amateur to sponsored pro is one of the last year’s big stories.
First it was about poker getting a book write-up from the US’s self-appointed cultural arbiter: The New Yorker, where Konnikova worked as a columnist. Then it was about a pro-coached amateur winning huge tournaments. Then it was about the publishers deadline which has now whizzed past, while she stayed out playing poker for months at a time.
Now it has come full circle – back to New York. The quondam New Yorker writer is now the subject of a New York Times puff-piece.
In the interview Konnikova did for the NYT she talks about the tournament “jackpots” she has won, but more interestingly on the seeds that grew up to push her out into the poker world:
“I was interested in the theme of skill versus chance and was looking for a way to get into it. A friend suggested I read John von Neumann’s “Theory of Games and Economic Behavior,” the foundational text of game theory [...] When he was trying to understand how strategic decision-making worked, he concluded that poker was the perfect analog.”
Konnikova won the $1,500 buy in PCA National in January, and made two final tables in March’s APPT series in Hong Kong. In total she’s earned almost a quarter-million US dollars in her year and a bit pursuing poker. But in the interview she says:
“I hate casinos. I have zero interest in gambling.”
After meeting Erik Seidel who coached her, and going on a course of:
“Studying, playing, living, breathing poker for eight to nine hours a day, every day [...] reading, watching videos or live-streaming very good players.”
All in all though, poker was originally just a way into a far broader topic about luck and risk for Konnikova.
“People often ascribe everything good to skill. And then when bad things happen, they say, ‘Oh, it’s bad luck.’ [...] So that’s what I wanted to write about. Poker was a way into it.”
Her book is due out next year.
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