The Great Poker Players Fold – Maria Konnikova

The life of academic, author and journalist turned poker player Maria Konnikova took another unexpected turn last month.

Maria Konnikova spoke at the World Economic Forum on January 22. Not only that, but she held her own amongst royalty, top CEOs and renowned thinkers.

At the forum, Maria Konnikova took part in a panel called ‘Global Risk Perception, Deception and Delusion’.

Quite an apt topic for a poker player, and later on she gave a talk of her own. Her talk was entitled ‘Psychology of the Con: How not to Get Fooled’.

Konnikova spoke to Pokerstars about her experience, discussing the themes of trust, distrust and of course, poker.

“It was definitely surreal,” said Konnikova.

“It was one of these environments where one minute you’re just chatting with someone and you turn around and run into some royalty or some huge name person who you never in a million years thought you would be in the same room as, let alone just bumping into.

“I had people who are decision-makers at really big organizations and who are in all sorts of areas coming up to me and being like, ‘Hey, you know, we’d like you come talk about poker’… [or] ‘we’d like you to consider consulting with us about this type of legislation,'” she said.

One of the most interesting nuggets from her interview is the role of trust in Poker. Poker players are obviously naturally suspicious of each other. But as Konnikova outlines, to be a top poker player, sometimes a little bit of trust is what you need.


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“I think what people don’t understand about the best poker players in the world, often, is that it can be much more difficult to fold than it is to call.

“And folding comes from understanding when you’re actually being told the truth.

“Big folds are sometimes the characteristic of the really great players as opposed to big calls.

“You have to be able to do both, but the big folds are often more difficult. Sometimes you have to be able to say, ‘You know what? I trust you. You’re telling me the truth right now.'”