How a New York Times bestselling author and New Yorker contributor parlayed a strong grasp of the science of human decision-making and a woeful ignorance of cards into a life-changing run as a professional poker player, under the wing of a legend of the game
As long as she can remember, Maria Konnikova has been fascinated by the tension between luck and skill. But nothing could prepare Konnikova for the string of bad luck that befell her in 2015, when, in quick succession, she was diagnosed with a painful auto-immune disease, her beloved grandmother died in a tragic accident, and unexpected layoffs for her mother and husband left the family in financial disarray.
Searching for a way to understand her fate, Konnikova revisited the work of legendary mathematician and game theoretician John von Neuman, who believed that oker was the best lens through which to understand the role of chance in our lives. What if she tried to find out? Could she, a total poker novice, find some better way to approach her own decision-making in life by mastering a game she had barely tried?
Determined to follow von Neuman's lead, Konnikova scored a coup - she convinced Erik Seidel, one of the greatest poker champions in history, to take her on as a student. In exchange, Konnikova agreed to an improbable challenge: after one year's training, Konnikova would compete to win the World Series of Poker, a feat never accomplished by a woman.
Lady, Cowboy, Joker, Knave is the remarkable story of that year: of Konnikova's fish-out-of-water immersion in the colourful world of competitive poker and of her impressive mastery of the game. As she develops skills at the poker table - how to truly pay attention, take control, and beat the odds - she comes to understand that have powerful applications to the higher stakes decisions of daily life. Konnikova has accomplished a very rare feat: an irresistible, once-in-a-lifetime narrative, told with humour and charm, that illuminates the world around us - and ourselves.
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