Summary: The Biggest Bluff – How I Learned to Pay Attention, Master Myself, and Win by Maria Konnikova
Summary: The Biggest Bluff – How I Learned to Pay Attention, Master Myself, and Win by Maria Konnikova

Summary: The Biggest Bluff – How I Learned to Pay Attention, Master Myself, and Win by Maria Konnikova

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In poker, you can win with the best hands and you can lose with the best hands. You simply must have the best information to win. No other way is possible. And that is why poker is a skill endeavor rather than a gambling one


The betting in poker isn’t accidental, it’s integral to the learning process

Our minds learn when we’ve a stake, a real stake in the outcome of our learning. It’s like kids learn so much better, remember much longer if they know how and when they’ll apply the knowledge.

If we keep betting the wrong amount, we will be punished. If we keep saying i think i’m good (without quantifying how we’re actually good), we’ll lose our money.

But in life we often do just that without a single thought. Why did I buy that stock? The other investor said it was good over lunch.

Why did I sell that? well you shorted that and that sounds right to me. you react emotionally rather than looking at the statistics.

Traders sell winning stocks to lock in the wins. it feels good even though numbers say that winners continue to go up in the short-term


It’s also about getting comfortable with the fact that there’s no such thing as the sure thing.

You’ll never have all the information you want. And you will need to act all the same. leave your certainty at the door.


You have to suffer defeat over and over again.

As brutal as it sounds, that’s the way it is. The benefit of failure isn’t something that success simply can offer. If you win right away, you will have absolutely no way to gauge you’re that brilliant or you’re just incredibly lucky.

You must learn to take chances but still retain enough balance to pull back.


Understand the dark side of variance first. That’s the only time you’ll learn to process your decision-making well.

because when you’re winning, it’s too easy not to stop and analyze your process.

Why bother when things are going well? When it comes to winning, triumph is the real foe. It’s a disaster for your teacher. It’s a disaster that brings objectivity. It’s a disaster that brings an antidote to overconfidence. Ultimately both triumph and disaster are imposters, they’re results that are subject to chance. One of them just happens to be a better teacher tool than the other. 


What do you picture when you think of the most successful predator in the animal kingdom?

Likely a lion or cheetah with its majestic run. Or a wolf stalking its prey. They’re all striking beasts. THey’re all powerful. They’re all deadly. But none of them is even close to being most successful.The cheetah comes in highest – killing about 58 percent of the animals it hunts. The lion comes in next – at less than half that – kills about a quarter of the animals it hunts. A wolf captures only 14 percent of the animals it stalks.

The true killer is hardly anyone would ever think of – the dragonfly. The dragonfly manages to capture astounding 95 percent of its targeted prey. It may not get glamorous attention but it’s a far more effective predator. Its eyes have developed to spot the tiniest deviations in motion. Its wings allow it to swirl and scoop in unimaginable quick configurations. And it can predict its prey’s future movements with startling accuracy. The dragonfly is so good not only because it can see what its prey is doing, but also it can predict what it will do and plan its resource accordingly. 

In the world of poker, you want to be the dragonfly. You don’t want to strike prematurely or preen. You don’t want to announce your presence with a roar. You just watch it quietly and change your hunting approach based on what you observe in your prey. 


Car crashes happen most frequently near your home for two reasons.

The first is base rate. You drive frequently near your home area. 

But the second is comfort. If you’re going on autopilot and texting anywhere, it’s in the places that are most familiar. The trick is to get past the plateau.

The relationships between our awareness of chance and our skill is a U-curve. No skill – chance looms high. Relatively high skill – chance recedes. Expert level – you once again see your shortcomings and realize that no matter your skill level, chance has a strong role to play.

In poker and in life, the learning pattern is identical. You may be a scared and nervous novice but at least you have the perspective to acknowledge it. If you’re starting to learn where your shortcomings are coming form, that’s no minor feat.


The way to outmaneuver your opponent is to get inside their OODA loop.

Figuring out how they are observing, how they are orienting, how they are deciding and how they are acting as a result. That way you can anticipate them. Because at the end of the day, the fighting just like the poker table comes down to information. You’re getting signals when you play and you’re getting off-signals. 

Watch from the shadows. Don’t announce yourself with any flashy movement. Blend perfectly into your surroundings. And observe your local forces to see how exactly they should be approached. No one-size-fits-all weapon. No predetermined strategy. Just an imminently flexible and ultimately deadly system rooted in deep patience and observation before anything else. 


When everything feels overwhelming, remember ‘bird by bird’.

One of the author’s favorite books is Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird. The title comes from a story she tells about her younger brother. When he was in elementary school, he was assigned a big project about birds. He had several weeks to work on it but had been putting off until the very end. Now the report was due next morning and he was sitting at the table crying. How was he ever going to finish? “Bird by bird buddy, bird by bird” she describes her dad telling him “just take it bird by bird”.

When it seems like it’s just too much and feels like you’ll never get it done, close your eyes and tell yourself “Bird by Bird”. And immediately start working on the next bird. And then the next. Then the next. Hand by hand. It might feel overwhelming but you can do this. Take a deep breath, close your eyes and press the reset button. Reset not just strategically but emotionally. Let go of all your blunder and look ahead.


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