Best-selling author and poker player Maria Konnikova has signed a new ambassador deal to represent PokerStars, almost four years after parting ways with the operator.
The move coincides with the long-awaited return of PokerStars live events in the United States with the upcoming launch of the North American Poker Tour at Resorts World in Las Vegas in early November.
Konnikova is a Harvard-trained psychologist whose literary work and public appearances have brought attention to the interplay between poker skills and life skills, which was the central subject of her bestselling 2020 book ‘The Biggest Bluff’. This chronicled her rise from a novice poker player being trained by renowned pro Erik Seidel to a tournament champion at the 2018 Pokerstars Caribbean Adventure.
Konnikova didn’t even know the rules of the game when she first contacted Seidel in 2017, which makes her 2018 victory all the more remarkable.
In June of that year, she signed with PokerStars before leaving as part of a wider cull in November 2019. She announced the decision on her Twitter account, reassuring fans it “doesn’t mean I’m parting ways with poker!”
How true that’s turned out to be.
Since her first run with PokerStars, Konnikova has cashed in 33 different events around the world, from Las Vegas to Monte Carlo.
‘The Biggest Bluff’ hit the New York Times bestseller list and remains on the shortlist of modern poker-related books. On the back of the book’s release, Konnikova won the Award of Merit at the 2021 Global Poker Awards.
Konnikova’s previous best-selling books also touched on themes that give more context to her interest and success in poker. ‘Mastermind’ examined the critical thinking skills and how they were applied in Arthur Conan Doyle’s literary tales of Sherlock Holmes. ‘The Confidence Game’ chronicled Konnikova’s immersion into the world of con artists, examining how and why so many people fall for their schemes.
Konnikova deal great for poker
It might be a surprise to even Konnikova that she’s still so immersed in poker six years after contacting Seidel as a curious outsider.
For poker fans, it’s a cause for celebration. With PokerStars’ appearing to be increasing its marketing efforts in the US, Konnikova’s advocacy for poker as a skill game could signal a broader ambition to increase lobbying efforts for online poker regulation in America, which has taken an arduous state-by-state pathway to opening up arguably the most important market for poker.
We spoke with Konnikova just after the PokerStars announcement was made – look out for the interview later on today.
In the meantime, you can order ‘The Biggest Bluff’ from Amazon, along with her other books, ‘Mastermind: How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes’ and ‘The Confidence Game’.