Author Halts Writing Poker Book after Making $200k during Research

Posted on by RTR Dennis

Maria Konnikova didn’t even know how many cards were in a deck until she started researching a poker book. Konnikova simply wanted to know enough about playing poker to explain how the strategy helps people make better decisions in everyday life.

But after winning over $200,000 through poker, the Russian-American author has decided to take a break from writing her book. Konnikova wants to take advantage of the current opportunity and use her newfound skills to continue winning money.

Let’s discuss how Konnikova became so good in such a short time span and if she plans to get back to her writing any time soon.

Learning Poker from the Best

Konnikova interviewed some of the world’s top poker players during her research, including Isaac Haxton, Jason Koon, and Erik Seidel. It’s very likely that getting advice from star players accelerated the 33-year-old’s learning curve.

Her poker results started slowly, though, with a number of small tournament cashes throughout 2017. Her fortunes would change in January 2018, when she won a $1,500 PokerStars Caribbean Adventure (PCA) NL Hold’em event.

She collected an $84,000 payout after topping a 230-player field. Konnikova tweeted the following about her big win:

“Oh I’m certainly far from the first writer to play poker! But as far as I know, I am the first to go from@not knowing the number of cards in a deck to winning a major title within one year :).”

In addition to the $84.6k payout, Konnikova also earned a seat in the 2019 PokerStars No-Limit Hold’em Championship. Encouraged by her success and excited about the free entry, she’s decided to put her book on hold in order to “stay in shape” for the upcoming event.

“I should have had a first draft in long, long ago,” she said. “I could never have predicted that I would ever be where I am now. I started this project with absolutely zero background in it.”

Will Konnikova Keep Writing? Or Become a Poker Pro?

Konnikova’s quick poker success is what many beginning poker players dream of. In addition to winning the PCA side event, she also finished 42nd in the $10,300 PCA Main Event ($22,020) and second in an Asia Pacific Poker Tour Macau side tournament ($57,519). Overall, she’s won $203,560 up to this point.

But despite her strong results, Konnikova’s poker journey will be a short one. She plans to return to her regular job once the PokerStars tournament is over.

“I’m not abandoning writing. I really want to give it my all, but this is for the book ultimately,” she explained. “There’s definitely one version of the future where I still write and play poker professionally. Why in the world wouldn’t I do both?”

Konnikova’s Story is Similar to Victoria Coren Mitchell

Konnikova’s poker story echoes a similar one by Victoria Coren Mitchell. The latter was a columnist for the Observer and began playing poker on the side.

It wasn’t long until Coren Mitchell became so successful with the game that she played more and more. One of her crowning poker achievements includes becoming the first woman to win a major European Poker Tour (EPT) event.

Coren Mitchell has always considered journalism and TV presenting her primary jobs. But she’s also had a lot of success in the poker world. That said, it’s a wonder if Konnikova will keep playing poker tournaments on the side of her writing job.

More on Konnikova’s Writing Career

It certainly makes sense that Maria Konnikova wants to focus on writing over poker in the future. After all, she’s had a very successful career penning books.

Originally born in Russia in 1984, her Jewish family immigrated to the US after the country opened its border to let Jews move to Israel. The Konnikovas eventually settled in suburban Boston, Massachusetts.

Maria would go on to graduate from Harvard and land a job as a producer for the Charlie Rose show. She also began writing for the Scientific American, the New York Times, Slate, and The Atlantic. By 2013, she was regularly contributing articles about psychology and science to the New York Times.

Konnikova wrote her first book in 2013, with Viking Press/Penguin Group publishing Mastermind: How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes. This work went on to become a New York Times bestseller and has been translated into 17 languages. Her second book, The Confidence Game, also became a bestseller in 2016.

Given her writing credentials, it’ll be interesting to see if Konnikova’s poker book will be another hit. She’s already generated plenty of publicity for it thanks to her impressive tournament results.

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