Maria Konnikova

Maria Konnikova was born in 1984 at the tail end of the Soviet regime, but her parents were allowed to emigrate to the United States in 1988.

How dangerous would you rate an amateur poker player who told you they had literally written the book on how to think like Sherlock Holmes and on the skills and tricks of confidence men? What if she then went on to mention she had a PhD in Psychology and that Eric Seidel is her coach? That is what you’re dealing with in Maria Konnikova.

Maria Konnikova was born in 1984 at the tail end of the Soviet regime, but her parents were allowed to emigrate to the United States in 1988 where she was raised. In America Konnikova excelled going first to Harvard to complete a Bachelor of Arts in Creative Writing and Psychology and then to Columbia to complete her PhD. While there she was mentored by popular science writer Steven Pinker, whose footsteps she followed in going out to explain her field to the world.

As a science journalist she has written for the New Yorker, Scientific American and the Paris Review and published two books:- Mastermind: How to think like Sherlock Holmes and The Confidence Game.

Her third book, upcoming in 2019, is where the rubber hits the baize. She decided to spend a year playing poker, training with WSOP and Rounders star Erik Seidel, playing the WSOP and travelling the tournament circuit. The project started in 2017 and got off to a slow start with the odd, small win here or there during 2017.

Konnikova may have gone into 2018 with just a few final tables under her belt, all of them in tournaments with buyins of less than $400. But in the first week of the new year she found herself winning the PCA Nation $1,500 buy in event in the Bahamas for a little over $84,600 and followed it up a few days later with a 42nd place finish the main event for another $22,020.

All that brings her up to $138,224 in tournament winnings, not to mention her advance on the book. 

Perhaps amateur is the wrong assignment for this particular shark in journalist’s clothing.

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