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Business Book Review: "The Biggest Bluff" by Maria Konnikova

"The Biggest Bluff: How I learned to Pay Attention, Master Myself and Win"

Maria Konnikova


Most people miss the most profound fact about this book: It's about how to be

successful in business and life in general. It's not about poker. It's not about the author's journey from never having played poker to becoming a world champion. Okay yes, it's about both of those things but if you're like me, you'll learn the bigger lessons.

In life and business, you can make every "right" decision and sometimes Life will come along and kick your ass anyway. I'm a poker player. I've gone "all in" (meaning I bet everything I had) with a pair of aces and been beaten by someone who made a horrible play and got lucky. I made the right decision at the right time. And I lost everything. So what did I do the next time I got a pair of aces? I went all in again and I won a huge pot. However, over the years, I've gotten much better at "reading the board" i.e. figuring out the strengths and weaknesses of my position, based on what I see in front of me. Which has led me to making "right decisions" after some cards have been shown and the decisions become much more complex. Obviously, this has applied to my business acumen, as well.

She also talks about how the new, hyper-aggressive style of poker has driven a lot of the old players (from say, way back in 2010!) to change their style of play or get out of WSOP and high-end poker events altogether (Many of us here in #LasVegas were glad to see certain tantrum-throwing players, depart).

Again, this applies to business. I know people in my industry who are doing things the same way they did in 2010. I'm not doing things the same way I did three months ago. That is what this book teaches you. Figure out what the right decision are when it comes to the basics. Use your wins and losses to figure out what the right decisions are, when things become more complex, Adapt to an ever changing environment. When know you made the right decision and Life decides to just kick your ass for no reason, don't give up. Don't get emotional and exacerbate things by making wrong decisions (what poker players call "Tilting") because the right decisions didn't work every time. Nothing works every time. Deal with it. Have the discipline to keep identifying and making the right decisions, and in the long term, you will succeed. I highly recommend this book.


Frederick Shelton is the CEO of Shelton & Steele. He can be reached at fs@ sheltonsteele.com or (soon) at the Texas Hold 'Em tables in casinos on the Fabulous Las Vegas Strip.