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Writer Halts Book on Poker After Winning $86,000 Playing Poker

Don't mind me, just frantically Googling "how to win big at Texas hold 'em and never work again."

by Drew Schwartz
May 3 2018, 6:05pm

Photo via World Poker Tour / Flickr

Most of us entertain fantasies of ditching our lowly, soul-crushing jobs and making it as the next Timothée Chalamet or Russell Westbrook or Cardi B or whatever, though we know deep down that most of us never will. In lieu of those talents, we work away as bartenders or salesmen or, you know, bloggers, and we deal with it. But one woman proved that it doesn't take otherworldly, innate skill to leap from the humdrum world of the everyday into a higher, more thrilling plane—that with a little hard work and a little luck, you can hit the big time doing something you don't know a damn thing about.

This heroine—this ray of hope in the darkness—is Maria Konnikova, a New Yorker contributor who decided to write a book about high-stakes poker. She teamed up with Erik Seidel—a Poker Hall of Famer who's made more than $34 million playing—who let her shadow him, showed her the ropes, and got her going on a career of her own.

She came into the world of poker "as someone who’d never had any experience with the game,” and started out playing small, $20 and $40 tournaments and never winning much, Poker News reports. Then, with Seidel's guidance, she got better—shared higher-stakes tables with good players at serious Las Vegas casinos like the ARIA, and walked away from a few games with upwards of $2,000. Pretty soon, she was playing major tournaments.

As if that's not sick enough on its own, less than a year after she'd picked up the game, she struck gold. In January, at a national championship in the Bahamas, she beat out 230 other players and came out on top—winning $86,400 from a game she'd started playing from scratch, as an experiment, to research a book.

Now, according to Poker News, she's making so much goddamn money playing poker that she's putting the whole writing thing on the back burner—pushing her book schedule back, and living it up in the lucrative world of professional gambling. And apparently, the move is paying off—she just won $57,519 at a tournament in Macau, where she came in second. She also recently touched down in Monaco, where she ponied up $25,000 at a tournament for a chance to win, oh, who knows, somewhere in the range of millions of fucking dollars.

Maria Konnikova did it. She peaced the hell out of her job, tried her hand at some wild-ass hobby she didn't have a lick of experience with, crushed it, and now, she's unbelievably rich! Let her be an inspiration to us all. I don't know about you, but it's time for me to go learn Texas hold 'em.

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Related: Rise of the Poker Bot