The Biggest Bluff by Maria Konnikova details her journey from a writer who knows nothing about poker to winning big tournaments as a poker player and all the lessons she learned along the way.
The biggest bluff of all, she learned, is that skill is enough.
Bad cards will come our way, but keeping our focus on how we play them and not on the outcome will keep us moving through many dark patches until luck once again comes our way.
Scroll down to read 30 Quotes from The Biggest Bluff by Maria Konnikova.
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30 Quotes from The Biggest Bluff by Maria Konnikova
This book isn’t about how to play poker. It’s about how to play the world.
Poker isn’t just about calibrating the strength of your beliefs. It’s also about becoming comfortable with the fact that there’s no such thing as a sure thing—ever.
Here was the cruel truth: we humans too often think ourselves in firm control when we are really playing by the rules of chance.
The benefit of failure is an objectivity that success simply can’t offer.
The more you learn, the harder it gets; the better you get, the worse you are.
Don’t worry about hoping. Just do.
If you don’t have an objective evaluation of what’s going on, you’re a loser.
For poker, unlike quite any other game, mirrors life. It isn’t the roulette wheel of pure chance, nor is it the chess of mathematical elegance and perfect information.
And while probabilities do even out in the long term, in the short term, who the hell knows. Anything is possible.
That’s the thing about life: You can do what you do but in the end, some things remain stubbornly outside your control.
Games give us a chance to confront luck in a manner that allows us to process it in life in a way we’re not always forced to do.
Clarity of language is clarity of thought—and the expression of a certain sentiment, no matter how innocuous it seems, can change your learning, your thinking, your mindset, your mood, your whole outlook.
Do we see ourselves as victims or victors? A victim: The cards went against me. Things are being done to me, things are happening around me, and I am neither to blame nor in control. A victor: I made the correct decision. Sure, the outcome didn’t go my way, but I thought correctly under pressure. And that’s the skill I can control.
People failed to see what the world was telling them when that message wasn’t one they wanted to hear.
We humans too often think ourselves in firm control when we are really playing by the rules of chance.
The best players don’t need pocket aces to win. Everything is in how you perceive it.
Poker is all about comfort with uncertainty, after all. Only I didn’t quite realize it wasn’t just uncertainty about the outcome of the cards. It’s uncertainty about the “right” thing to do. The only certain thing is your thinking.
Things in our control are opinion, pursuit, desire, aversion, and, in a word, whatever are our own actions. Things not in our control are body, property, reputation, command, and, in one word, whatever are not our own actions.
Fuck participation trophies, we go for the win.
Less certainty. More inquiry.
There is a saying in poker, that if you are never caught in a bluff, you are not bluffing enough.
Presence is far more difficult than the path of least resistance.
When it comes to learning, Triumph is the real foe; it’s Disaster that’s your teacher. It’s Disaster that brings objectivity. It’s Disaster that’s the antidote to that greatest of delusions, overconfidence.
You can’t play scared. You can’t be afraid of how you look. You can’t be afraid someone will walk away because of what you do or don’t do.
Finding a good mentor is crucial to learning any new skill.
Mike Tyson said it best. ‘Everyone has a plan until you get punched in the mouth.’ And he’s right. Until you go through a month of everything going wrong, you won’t know whether you have what it takes.
You will never learn how to play good poker if you get lucky—it’s as simple as that.
Through poker, I wanted to tame luck—to learn to make a difference even when the deck seemed stacked against me.
Nothing is all skill. Ever.
Most people think of poker as a way to get wealthy. And it is. Only not the way you think. I didn’t make millions. But the wealth of skill I acquired, the depth of decision-making ability, the emotional strength and self-knowledge—these will serve me long after my winnings have run dry.
Which quote from The Biggest Bluff by Maria Konnikova is your favorite?