While we’re still waiting for the world of poker to normalize again, it’s can be increasingly difficult to find the pastime in the news at all. We know that poker rooms are slowly but surely opening back up, albeit not yet for tournaments on any scale. And we also know that major online events are in the offing; we’ll be talking about some news concerning one of those events a bit later in this article.
All of that is a preface to saying that it was quite refreshing to see all of the publicity this week surrounding a book about poker. It’s called The Biggest Bluff: How I Learned to Pay Attention, Master Myself, and Win, written by Maria Konnikova. And it’s an intriguing take that goes well beyond the do’s and don’ts of holding and folding.
Konnikova, who makes her living as a freelance writer, several years back faced suffered a series of personal setbacks that included family tragedy, financial turmoil, and health problems. It was around that time that she became fascinated by poker and submerged herself into the game. She also had the idea to a write a book about the experience.
Along the way, she convinced poker legend Erik Seidel to become her coach, something that he hadn’t really done before. The Biggest Bluff contains a blow-by-blow of how Konnikova went from complete poker novice to tournament champion in a relatively short amount of time, albeit with some bumps in the road along the way. But it also acts as a kind of self-help book in addition to being a memoir, as Konnikova used the game as a way to rethink her personal circumstances, with Seidel along for the ride as a kind of inadvertent guru.
Konnikova has been making the rounds in the past week to promote the book, with a feature in the New York Times, a CBS This Morning profile, and excerpts popping up on different online sites. It’s clear from that push that her publishers expect big things from the book.
From the excerpts that this author has checked out, you shouldn’t go into it expecting a how-to on high stakes poker. But you could end up gleaning some insights about your life from it.
In interviews, Konnikova has driven home the idea that the game allowed her to rethink the way she viewed the turmoil in her life. In one excerpt, she talked about how, just as you shouldn’t go through your poker life complaining constantly about the bad beats that haunt you, neither should you spend your life dwelling on the bad stuff. Instead, you should be forging personal resilience as a way to cope.
Whether or not the book is able to make those connections remains to be seen; I haven’t had the chance to check out the book yet. But the excerpts are engaging, with Konnikova using real-life poker examples to drive home her points. It helps that she’s a writer of serious note, with other published books and a long line of magazine and online articles to her credit prior to this book.
And who knows? It might be genuinely helpful to those who are trying to find a way to deal with excess crisis in their lives.
As someone who is generally skeptical of self-help in general, I have to say that the excerpts I read show that Konnikova doesn’t come at it with a heavy hand. She’s making observations based on her experiences, some of which might indeed be germane to others.
Will The Biggest Bluff end up ranking with other poker-with-an-angle classics like James McManus’ Positively Fifth Street? Or will it be something that fills a niche but not necessarily the one that hard-players care about?
That remains to be seen. But, if nothing else, you’ll have some intriguing reading material available to you while you’re on the waiting list for your real money poker table.
WSOP Online Event Taking Shape
While it’s good to have optimism about it, there is no way to tell if we will actually witness a live World Series of Poker event this year. It was officially postponed and not cancelled, so there is still hope. But there is no way of knowing in the months to come, making it impossible to predict the eventual outcome.
That’s why any news on the World Series of Poker Online Series has to be greeted with much enthusiasm. This past week, the schedule of how the 85 bracelets will be broken up was released, including information on all of the international events taking place via GG Poker. That is in addition to the events previously announced to be held at WSOP.com.
In addition to the schedule, the values at stake in each event were also released. And the numbers should have prospective players salivating.
The behemoth prize is the $5,000 No Limit Hold’em Main Event, which begins on August 30. That carries a guarantee of $25 million in purse money.
There are 10 other events on the schedule with guarantees of at least $1 million. And the variety of tournaments is also encouraging, with just about every imaginable offshoot in the offing.
There is even some mystery involved with the People’s Choice bracelets up for grabs, since there hasn’t been specific word yet and how those choices will be determined. Even if you’re not a player, you can follow along with all the action at GG Poker to get your vicarious thrills from it all.
The whole affair begins on July 19 and concludes on September 6. In an ideal world, maybe conditions will have improved by that point to where the actual World Series of Poker could then take place, making it like the icing on the cake after the online action. But, if nothing else, these online tournaments at the top gambling sites should provide enough excitement to help get poker fans through the long summer months.