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Virtual West Los Angeles Book Club
Sunday, August 15, 2021, 3:00 PM - 4:00 PM PDT
Category: Clubs

LACPA’s Summer Book Club Selection:

The Biggest Bluff:

How I Learned to Pay Attention, Master Myself and Win

by Maria Konnikova, Ph.D.


Book Summary:

The Biggest Bluff addresses the struggle for balance between luck and control, and how people make important decisions in consideration of these factors.  Dr. Maria Konnikova is a psychologist who earned her doctorate from Columbia University.  Incorporating sources from philosophy, psychology and business, she creates an intellectual and practical quest to master high-stakes, tournament level, No Limit Texas Hold’em poker.  She finds a master poker tutor to teach her the game and how big money success is achieved at the highest level of play, a major international tournament, in this mostly male world of iconoclastic risk-takers.


Her writing style is entertaining, clear and engaging as she explains the strategies and psychological principles of high stakes poker.  The ups and downs of her journey through the poker world provides a fascinating template for understanding the process of making important life decisions.


Acknowledgments and Reviews:


Please Note: Since this book isn’t as well known as the other books selected for this year, I’m including more reviews from Amazon’s website.  However, there are many more great ones, I encourage you to check them out, as well as the author’s bio and more information about the book.  Happy reading!


Recognized as a New York Times Notable Book

The Biggest Bluff feels particularly timely in the current pandemic. As governments design policies based on limited data, and individuals are forced to grapple with the probabilities of contagion – we could all do with the greater understanding of uncertainty, and how to think about it under pressure, that comes with the game.” —BBC


“Fascinating. . . . Konnikova is like your smart friend who instantly contextualizes everything by sharing the latest data and sharpest insight, whom you come to quote too often. . . . Konnikova keeps the lines so clean and even, so steady and unshowy that she might be the Charlie Watts of prose: While the backbeat never ceases and the narrative propels along, it’s her curiosity that proliferates. In fact, one of the biggest bluffs of The Biggest Bluff may be that Konnikova hasn’t written a book about her success with cards and chips exactly, but bet the house on the power of her mind to synthesize big philosophical ideas and psychological insights at a time when we, too, find ourselves questioning our fortunes, hoping to master our fates and playing much bigger odds than ever before.” New York Times Book Review


The Biggest Bluff is a brilliant book mostly because Konnikova is a brilliant writer, but also because she is a brilliant observer of the weird world she has immersed herself into . . . The most enthralling parts of the book are when she takes the reader inside the cockpit and talks through some of the high-stakes plays she finds herself involved in.” The Daily Telegraph


“I love it. Not only did The Biggest Bluff lead me into a complex and charismatic new world, it made me think about my own life and my own self-deceptions about control—and taught me to pay more attention to my own opponents, mine being of the tennis sort. The narrative is deftly crafted, and the journey—the self-examination, the oddball characters, the awful misogyny, the Aggros, the notion of tilt—accumulates in a seamless and satisfying way. I read this in what for me was record time.” —Erik Larson, author of The Splendid and the Vile (and many other books)


“There are a lot of great books about psychology. And there are even some great books about poker. There isn’t any book like The Biggest Bluff. Maria’s journey from a novice into a world-class poker player is a page-turning adventure that you’ll enjoy whether you’re a seasoned pro or someone who doesn’t know a busted draw from a full house. 
 But what makes The Biggest Bluff so unique is its honesty and humility. It understands the importance of luck and uncertainty in our lives—and how different they can look when we’re suddenly facing high-stakes, life-altering decisions. I can’t think of a better guide for navigating these subjects than Maria and I highly recommend this book.” —Nate Silver, founder and editor-in-chief, FiveThirtyEight



All Summer Book Club Meetings will be held via Zoom.  

 Please contact the Book Club facilitators to RSVP so a Zoom Invitation can be sent to you

Contact: Dr. Lauren Wecker [email protected] (310) 383-1505