What has the mainstream been saying about poker over the past week? Here’s an update, highlighting items appearing in The New York Times, BBC News, The Atlantic, The Action Network, and elsewhere, plus a fun read about the early history of poker on TV in Card Player.
You have probably heard there is a new poker book out, written by our bestselling author friend Maria Konnikova. It was officially released yesterday, and there has already been a lot of buzz surrounding it from many mainstream outlets.
Titled The Biggest Bluff: How I Learned to Pay Attention, Master Myself, and Win, Konnikova’s primary purpose is to examine the significant role luck plays in our lives, with poker being her primary way of exploring the topic.
We shared our review of The Biggest Bluff yesterday (spoiler — it’s awesome). So did many other publications, and in all cases the reviews have been very positive.
For example, Michael Paterniti reviewed the book for The New York Times, and among his many praises was one regarding Konnikova’s clear and pleasing writing style.
“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,” writes Paterniti.
For those unfamiliar with classic rock, that’s Rolling Stones durmmer Charlie Watts to whom Paterniti refers. He’s right — while the insights are often deep, the story keeps on rocking as the pages turn.
READ: “How a Writer With a Ph.D. in Psychology Became a Poker Champ” (The New York Times)
Like bestselling authors do, Konnikova has been doing her part to help promote the book. That includes giving a detailed and interesting interview to BBC News that works as a good introduction to The Biggest Bluff while also building on some of its ideas. Check it out:
READ: “How to Think Under Pressure” (BBC News)
And if you want a taste of The Biggest Bluff before picking up a copy, you’ve got options. Here are some links to excerpts from the book:
- “How I Became a Poker Champion in One Year” (The Atlantic)
- “Push-Up Contests, Kevin Hart, and $100K Tournaments: Inside the World of Super High Rollers” (Vanity Fair)
- “Lodden Thinks: Why the world’s elite poker players love this gambling guessing game” (Slate)
- “Poker and the Psychology of Uncertainty” (Wired)
I mentioned this in my review yesterday, but I might reiterate it here. For those who wonder (or worry) about how poker is being presented to non-poker audiences, you can rest assured that The Biggest Bluff defends our favorite card game especially well.
You’ll recall how Konnikova was recently an ambassador for PokerStars. Well, with her book she’s now become an especially adept ambassador for poker, generally speaking, showing a wide audience all the ways poker can both entertain and educate us.
A perusal of early responses to her book proves this point well, showing how many are picking up on her argument that even though poker obviously involves a chance element, it should be distinguished from other gambling games thanks to its skill component.
For more on that discussion, check out that excerpt appearing in Wired listed above. It is one appearing early in the book that finds Konnikova discussing her poker-playing plan with her 92-year-old grandmother who understandably wonders why her smart granddaughter wants to go gamble.
In non-Konnikova mainstream poker news, we were able to catch up with another friend of the PokerStars Blog when David Williams was interviewed by The Action Network.
In the interview, the 2004 World Series of Poker Main Event runner-up reminisces about his poker breakthrough more than 15 years ago (has it really been that long?). Other topics of conversation include Magic: The Gathering, being a parent, and life in Las Vegas.
Williams additionally relates what it was like to participate in another intense televised competition. A few years ago Williams was a finalist on Season 7 of MasterChef starring Gordon Ramsay, and he talks a bit about how he handled the pressure of that moment. And about soft-boiled eggs.
In fact, you can watch and see how Williams did yourself, if you like:
Finally comes this item reflecting on the early days of televised poker.
It was more than two decades ago that the UK program Late Night Poker brought hole cards and a whole lot of excitement about poker to a mainstream audience.
Irish poker pro Padraig Parkinson was there at the start, and while he missed playing on the show’s initial series he did eventually take a seat and become part of the show’s story.
In a piece for Card Player appearing this week, Parkinson laments choosing not to play on LNP initially while also sharing other behind-the-scenes anecdotes, all from a book by Parkinson called Rebel Without a Pause. Check it out: