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Maria Konnikova      

Author; Psychologist; Poker Player

Maria Konnikova is a Russian-American writer and psychologist. She has a B.A. in psychology and creative writing from Harvard University and a Ph.D. in psychology from Columbia University. She has worked as a television producer, written for several magazines and online publications, and authored two New York Times best selling books. She primarily writes about psychology and its application to real life situations.

Maria is the New York Times-bestselling author of The Confidence Game (Viking/Penguin 2016) and Mastermind: How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes (Viking/Penguin, 2013). She is a contributing writer for The New Yorker, where she writes a regular column with a focus on psychology and culture, and is currently working on an assortment of non-fiction and fiction projects.

She is interested in poker and described it as a way to examine the mind’s responses to conditions that involve both skill and chance. Her upcoming book will explore " as a metaphor for life in general." To research this book, Konnikova made contact with Erik Seidel, who allowed her to observe him competing at an event for high-stakes players.

After starting with $20 and $40 tournaments, she began playing in higher stakes tournaments. Konnikova has taken up professional poker playing full-time, and is an Ambassador of Poker League of Nations, the world's largest women's poker organization. In 2018, Konnikova decided to delay work on her book to compete in more poker tournaments with higher stakes.

Speech Topics

How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes

No fictional character is more renowned for his powers of thought and observation than Sherlock Holmes. But is his extraordinary intellect merely a gift of fiction, or can we learn to cultivate these abilities ourselves, to improve our lives at work and at home? We can, says psychologist and journalist Maria Konnikova, and in this talk, she shows us how. Beginning with the “brain attic”—Holmes’s metaphor for how we store information and organize knowledge—Konnikova unpacks the mental strategies that lead to clearer thinking and deeper insights. Drawing on neuroscience and psychology, she explores Holmes’s unique methods of ever-present mindfulness, astute observation, and logical deduction. In doing so, she teaches how anyone, with some self-awareness and a little practice, can employ these same methods to sharpen their perceptions, solve difficult problems, and enhance our creative powers.


Reporter puts poker book on hold to double down on hot streak

She's all in! New Yorker journalist Maria Konnikova picked up the game of poker a year ago while researching a book — but she hit such a hot winning streak...

Writer Maria Konnikova played poker for book research. Then she ...

Pay attention and listen closely is a key message in the writing of Maria Konnikova, a journalist and author whose two best-selling books illuminate lessons ...

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